No NFL teams have clinched a playoff berth yet. But one team can do it tonight, and five teams may have done it by this time next week.
Seattle, which hosts New Orleans tonight, is in the playoffs with a win. Obviously, there’s almost no scenario in which the 10-1 Seahawks will miss the playoffs, but it becomes a mathematical certainty if they win tonight.
More teams can reach the playoffs on Sunday. In the NFC, the Saints’ scenario is simple: They clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Seahawks tonight and then beat the Panthers next week.
In the AFC, the Broncos will clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Titans on Sunday. Even if the Broncos lose to the Titans on Sunday, they’ll clinch at least a wild card if the Dolphins lose to the Steelers.
The Broncos beating the Titans would also clinch the AFC South for the Colts. And even if the Titans pull the upset, the Colts will clinch the AFC South if they beat the Bengals.
The Patriots will clinch the AFC East if they beat the Browns and the Dolphins lose at Pittsburgh.
So by the end of the day on Sunday, as many as five of the 12 playoff spots may have been clinched by the Seahawks, Saints, Broncos, Patriots and Colts. Realistically, those five teams have playoff berths all but wrapped up, and so do the Chiefs, Panthers and Bengals, even if they can’t clinch mathematically yet. Throw those eight teams in with the 49ers as an NFC wild card and the Lions as the likely NFC North winners, and we’ve got 10 playoff spots figured out. The two playoff spots that are the toughest to predict are the final AFC wild card (which will probably go to the Ravens or Dolphins) and the NFC East winner (the 7-5 Cowboys own the tiebreaker over the 7-5 Eagles, but those teams still have a Week 17 meeting to settle things). And that’s your NFL playoff picture.