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Week 17 playoff scenarios: Patriots, Panthers can clinch top seeds

New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers Getty Images

For the Patriots and Panthers, Week 17 is simple: Win, and you clinch home-field advantage.

For other teams, the playoff scenarios are more complex. The Cardinals can get home-field advantage, but only with help. The Broncos can get home-field advantage with help, but they could also be a wild card if things don’t go well on Sunday.

Here are the full playoff scenarios for Week 17, as distributed by the NFL today:

AFC

CLINCHED: New England – AFC East and a first-round bye, Cincinnati – AFC North, Denver – playoff berth, Kansas City – playoff berth.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (at Miami)
New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with a win or tie or a Denver loss or tie

DENVER BRONCOS (vs. San Diego)
Denver clinches the AFC West with a win or tie OR a Kansas City loss or tie.
Denver clinches a first-round bye with a win OR a tie and a Cincinnati loss or tie OR a Kansas City loss or tie and a Cincinnati loss.
Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and a New England loss.

CINCINNATI BENGALS (vs. Baltimore)
Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with a win and a Denver loss or tie, OR a tie and a Denver loss, OR a Denver loss and Kansas City win.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (vs. Oakland)
Kansas City clinches the AFC West with a win and a Denver loss.

NEW YORK JETS (at Buffalo)
The New York Jets clinch a wild card with a win or tie OR a Pittsburgh loss or tie.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (at Cleveland)
Pittsburgh clinches a wild card with a win and a Jets loss.

HOUSTON TEXANS (vs. Jacksonville)
Houston clinches the AFC South with a win or tie OR an Indianapolis loss or tie.
Houston can also clinch the AFC South by clinching the strength of victory tiebreaker or the strength of schedule tiebreaker over Indianapolis. Houston clinches the strength of victory tiebreaker over Indianapolis if one of the following teams wins or ties: Cincinnati, New England, New Orleans, the New York Jets or San Diego. Houston clinches the strength of schedule tiebreaker over Indianapolis if Kansas City wins or ties and Baltimore wins or ties as long as both teams don’t tie.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (vs. Tennessee)
Indianapolis clinches the AFC South with a win and a Houston loss if all of the following teams win: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver and Miami AND Oakland and Pittsburgh either win or tie, but they don’t both tie.

If Houston and Indianapolis end up tied in strength of victory and tied in strength of schedule, the teams would then go to the next tiebreaker, which is best combined ranking among AFC teams in points scored and points allowed in all games. Houston would likely win that tiebreaker because Houston is currently 11th in points scored and sixth in points allowed in the AFC, while Indianapolis is currently 12th in points scored and 13th in points allowed in the AFC.

The bottom line on the AFC South is that although it is technically still in play, there is almost no chance that the Colts will win the tiebreaker with the Texans.

NFC

CLINCHED: Carolina – NFC South and a first-round bye, Arizona – NFC West and a first-round bye, Washington – NFC East and the No. 4 seed, Green Bay – playoff berth, Minnesota – playoff berth, Seattle – wild card.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (vs. Tampa Bay)
Carolina clinches home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win or tie OR an Arizona loss or tie.

ARIZONA CARDINALS (vs. Seattle)
Arizona clinches home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win and a Carolina loss.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (vs. Minnesota, Sunday night)
Green Bay clinches the NFC North with a win or tie.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (at Green Bay, Sunday night)
Minnesota clinches NFC North division with a win.

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25 Responses to “Week 17 playoff scenarios: Patriots, Panthers can clinch top seeds”
  1. romophobic says: Dec 29, 2015 11:14 AM

    You’ve been on point with this coverage, well done man.

  2. STILLlolatpatshaters says: Dec 29, 2015 11:23 AM

    The Dolphins have already quit.

    If the Patriots can’t beat them now then they don’t deserve to be the top seed. It’s that simple.

  3. inbillwetrust says: Dec 29, 2015 11:25 AM

    whatever you say about the patriots just doesn’t matter. Tom brady and the patriots have brought me 15 years of Joy and happiness over the years.. Joy and happiness that most fans of the other 31 teams have not and probably will not ever experience. And I understand that’s why you are bitter and angry… But it doesn’t matter how they achieved it they still brought that joy and happiness to me just about every sunday during the course of the nfl seasons and plenty of playoff games and superbowls as well.. once again, I am sorry we can’t all feel this way… but I rather it be me then you…

    GO PATS

  4. skiier4384 says: Dec 29, 2015 11:27 AM

    This is how I think it plays out:

    AFC

    1) Patriots
    2) Broncos
    3) Bengals
    4) Texans
    5) Chiefs
    6) Jets

    NFC

    1) Panthers
    2) Cardinals
    3) Vikings
    4) Redskins
    5) Packers
    6) Seahawks

  5. jetsfan136 says: Dec 29, 2015 11:27 AM

    Top seeds shouldn’t put any thought into the Jets. We haven’t played anyone. We aren’t that good. Revis is over the hill. Fitzpatrick will revert to bad Fitz. We’re not a threat to anyone.

    #undertheradar

  6. jim699 says: Dec 29, 2015 11:29 AM

    Clinch is a weird verb to chose considering it’s the last week of the season.

  7. cardinalsfan87 says: Dec 29, 2015 11:31 AM

    Cardinals are the best team in the nfc

  8. middy84 says: Dec 29, 2015 11:49 AM

    The Pats are so overrated and they are depleted in manpower. They may make it past the first round.

  9. donny1rodriguez says: Dec 29, 2015 11:49 AM

    “whatever you say about the patriots just doesn’t matter. Tom brady and the patriots have brought me 15 years of Joy and happiness over the years.. Joy and happiness that most fans of the other 31 teams have not and probably will not ever experience. ”

    Yeah I’m sure the Steelers, Giants, and Ravens with their multiple Super Bowl wins in the same time span have no idea what it’s like. Gotta love that Pats superiority complex

  10. iseek11 says: Dec 29, 2015 12:02 PM

    Seeding matters for wilcards too.

    KC or Denver are 5th seeds and would play Houston/Indy.

    But in the NFC , 5th and 6th seeds are in play. If Green Bay loses, they are 5th seed regardless of what Seattle does (because of head to head) and would go to Washington. Seattle would go to Minnesota.

    If GB wins and Seattle wins, then Minnesota goes back to GB and Seattle gets to go to Washington. If Seattle loses, then they go to GB and Minnesota goes to Washington.

    Don’t want to be to dismissive of Washington, but I think Seattle would rather play there than the Frozen Tundra or Minnesota again. And Minnesota would probably rather not play back to back games in GB.

    But Seattle will likely lose in Arizona and play either GB or Minnesota with the other going to Washington.

  11. wimpyburgers says: Dec 29, 2015 12:15 PM

    Does Seattle play for pride or for the play-offs?

    I hope they rest a bunch of starters in the second half on Sunday.

    I’m sure that AZ and Panthers wish they could use their position to do the same thing.

  12. flash1287 says: Dec 29, 2015 12:21 PM

    middy84 says:
    Dec 29, 2015 11:49 AM
    The Pats are so overrated and they are depleted in manpower. They may make it past the first round.

    Yeah, you may want to look up the definition of “overrated”

  13. kitmandew says: Dec 29, 2015 12:51 PM

    Does Seattle play for pride or for the play-offs?

    I hope they rest a bunch of starters in the second half on Sunday.

    I’m sure that AZ and Panthers wish they could use their position to do the same thing.

    It’s ok, we can rest our players during the bye week, but thanks for your concern… Keep Pounding!

  14. inbillwetrust says: Dec 29, 2015 1:01 PM

    “whatever you say about the patriots just doesn’t matter. Tom brady and the patriots have brought me 15 years of Joy and happiness over the years.. Joy and happiness that most fans of the other 31 teams have not and probably will not ever experience. ”

    Yeah I’m sure the Steelers, Giants, and Ravens with their multiple Super Bowl wins in the same time span have no idea what it’s like. Gotta love that Pats superiority complex

    key word “most”… look up “most”..

  15. sueb45 says: Dec 29, 2015 1:24 PM

    jetsfan136 says:
    Dec 29, 2015 11:27 AM
    Top seeds shouldn’t put any thought into the Jets. We haven’t played anyone. We aren’t that good. Revis is over the hill. Fitzpatrick will revert to bad Fitz. We’re not a threat to anyone.

    #undertheradar
    —————
    I’m a Pats fan and I have to disagree. You outplayed us. Todd Bowles has brought the Jets from a Rex Ryan circus to a contender. You get the right QB and the skies the limit. Having said that, Drive for Five, Pats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. sueb45 says: Dec 29, 2015 1:26 PM

    middy84 says:
    Dec 29, 2015 11:49 AM
    The Pats are so overrated and they are depleted in manpower. They may make it past the first round.
    ————
    Take a look at who we’ll have back in time for the playoffs and you may want to re-access. Go Pats!

  17. whereyaat says: Dec 29, 2015 1:42 PM

    Here’s the Week 21 scenario:
    Cardinals win it all.

    You can take that to the bannnnnnnnkkkk!

  18. wikidpissah says: Dec 29, 2015 2:37 PM

    donny1rodriguez says:
    Dec 29, 2015 11:49 AM

    “whatever you say about the patriots just doesn’t matter. Tom brady and the patriots have brought me 15 years of Joy and happiness over the years.. Joy and happiness that most fans of the other 31 teams have not and probably will not ever experience. ”

    Yeah I’m sure the Steelers, Giants, and Ravens with their multiple Super Bowl wins in the same time span have no idea what it’s like. Gotta love that Pats superiority complex
    —————————————————————-

    Three very successful organizations. But none of them has had an uninterrupted 15 year run of success like the Patriots, during the salary cap era. And the Patriots have won twice as many Super Bowls during that period than any of those three.

    In the Super Bowl Era, only the 49ers have had a similar run.

  19. flyerfan78 says: Dec 29, 2015 2:54 PM

    inbillwetrust says:
    Dec 29, 2015 11:25 AM
    whatever you say about the patriots just doesn’t matter. Tom brady and the patriots have brought me 15 years of Joy and happiness over the years.. Joy and happiness that most fans of the other 31 teams have not and probably will not ever experience. And I understand that’s why you are bitter and angry… But it doesn’t matter how they achieved it they still brought that joy and happiness to me just about every sunday during the course of the nfl seasons and plenty of playoff games and superbowls as well.. once again, I am sorry we can’t all feel this way… but I rather it be me then you…

    GO PATS

    69 45
    Report comment

    ———————-
    As an Eagles fan, I couldn’t agree more. Id kill for 1/8 the success that the Pats have had. I find it comical that people love to bash the Pats, a team that we will look back 30 years from now and say was easily the most dominant, and successful franchises for almost two decades: kudos:

  20. beastmode5150 says: Dec 29, 2015 2:54 PM

    Should be a fun Playoffs, i am hoping for a Seattle Vs Arizona NFC Title game with Beastmode ready to go, that game would be awesome.

  21. solo681 says: Dec 29, 2015 3:04 PM

    Kraft & BB wasted the opportunity they had to go ‘ALL OUT’ in providing protection for Brady and giving him some SPEED / DEEP THREAT WR’s for this year.

    Brady’s career could be over after this year as one injury could end it or diminish his ability.

    Very disappointed in watching year after year of a very weak Secondary, and a one time Top WR in Moss.

    WASTED OPPORTUNITIES by Management.

  22. whereyaat says: Dec 29, 2015 3:51 PM

    Considering Seattle management doesn’t want Lynch to ever play for them again, I am pretty sure he won’t be lacing them up against the Cardinals.

  23. pettsmagee says: Dec 29, 2015 3:58 PM

    Should come down to NE vs AZ in the bowl. Edelman and Amendola in the lineup for the playoffs immediately transforms that offense back into a powerhouse…Edelman is that important. The return of the quick passing will be enough to curb that achilles heal of a decimated O-line.

    AZ is just rolling right now. Seems only chance of knocking them off is Rodgers and GB getting hot at the right time. But who knows…any given Sunday.

  24. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonAndNeverToReturn says: Dec 29, 2015 4:16 PM

    How sad that the Steelers are among those pitiful teams that need all kinds of miracles to happen in order to get into the playoffs. They were supposed to embarrass the Ravens at home last Sunday. Anybody know what happened? LOL

  25. denverdude7 says: Dec 29, 2015 5:55 PM

    The Patri*ts and the Panthers are both one and done pretenders.

    After that it’s a crap shoot.

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