Seven NFL teams have already clinched playoff berths, and four more teams can clinch this week.
The NFL has released the Week 16 playoff scenarios, which show that the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East and the Falcons and Lions can clinch the two NFC wild-card berths, while the Broncos can clinch the AFC West.
In the NFC, the Packers and 49ers have clinched their division while the Saints have clinched at least a wild card. The Panthers, Vikings, Rams, Buccaneers and Redskins are all mathematically eliminated. That’s what we know. What we don’t know is which of the other scenarios will play out.
The Packers will clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if the 49ers lose to the Seahawks on Saturday, or if the Packers beat the Bears on Sunday night. The 49ers clinch a first-round bye if they win and if the Saints lose to the Falcons on Monday night.
The Saints clinch the NFC South if they beat the Falcons. The Falcons clinch a wild card and remain alive in the NFC South if they beat the Saints. Even if they lose to the Saints, the Falcons can clinch a wild card if the Bears and Cardinals both lose, and either the Cowboys or the Giants lose.
The Lions can clinch a wild card if they beat the Chargers, and they can even clinch a wild card if they lose to the Chargers, although they’ll need a lot of help in the form of the Bears, Cardinals and Seahawks all losing, plus one of the Cowboys, Giants or Saints losing.
The Cowboys clinch the NFC East if they beat the Eagles and the Giants lose to the Jets.
In the AFC, the Texans and Patriots have clinched their divisions, while the Ravens and Steelers have clinched a trip to the playoffs. The Bills, Browns, Colts, Dolphins and Jaguars are mathematically eliminated.
New England can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a loss by the Texans, or a win and losses by both the Steelers and the Ravens. The Patriots clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win and all three of those teams lose.
The Ravens clinch the AFC North if they beat the Browns and the Steelers lose at home to the Rams, and they clinch a first-round bye if that happens plus the Texans lose to the Colts on Thursday night.
The Broncos clinch the AFC West if they win and the Raiders lose, and they clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Jets, Bengals and Titans all lose.
If you’re a fan of one of the teams that can clinch, your rooting interests are clear. But if you’re just a fan of football, you’re probably rooting against all the teams that can clinch in Week 16 — because the more playoff spots that are still in play after Week 16, the more fun Week 17 will be.