14 games have playoff implications


In this week’s slate of 16 NFL games, only two will have no effect at all on the playoff race. Here’s a handy explanation of how each game can affect each team’s path to the playoffs:

Playoff implications for both teams

Saints-Panthers: A huge game. If the Saints win, they clinch the NFC South and a first-round playoff bye. If the Panthers win, they clinch at least a playoff spot and are in the driver’s seat for the NFC South and a first-round playoff bye.

Patriots-Ravens: If the Patriots win, they clinch the AFC East. If the Patriots win and both the Bengals and Colts lose, the Patriots clinch a first-round playoff bye. If the Ravens win they stay alive in the AFC North, and the Ravens can clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Dolphins and Chargers both lose.

Bears-Eagles: The winner of this game will continue to lead its division and have the inside track for the No. 3 seed in the NFC. If the Eagles win and the Cowboys lose, the Eagles win the NFC East. If the Bears win and the Packers and Lions lose, the Bears win the NFC North.

Colts-Chiefs: The Colts are the only team in the NFL that has clinched its division, but they could be anywhere from the No. 1 seed to the No. 4 seed in the AFC depending on how the last two weeks play out. The Chiefs have clinched a playoff berth but can leapfrog the Broncos in the AFC West with a win and a Denver loss.

Cardinals-Seahawks: The Seahawks clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win. The Cardinals’ slim playoff hopes will get a big boost if they can upset Seattle. (It would also help the Cardinals if the Panthers lose to the Saints.)

Steelers-Packers: If the Packers win, they just need to beat the Bears in Week 17 to clinch the NFC North. If the Packers lose, they need the Bears to lose as well or else Green Bay would be eliminated. The Steelers have to win out and get a lot of help to make the playoffs.

Playoff implications for one team

Broncos-Texans: The Broncos clinch the AFC West and a first-round bye if they win and the Chiefs lose, and they clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win and both the Chiefs and Patriots lose.

Giants-Lions: The Lions must win to stay alive. If they lose, they are mathematically eliminated. If the Lions win and either the Bears or Packers lose, the Lions head into Week 17 with a chance at the playoffs. If the Lions win and both the Bears and Packers lose, the Lions just need to win in Week 17 to clinch the NFC North.

Falcons-49ers: The 49ers clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Falcons on Monday night. (It’s possible the 49ers will already have clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, which will happen if the Seahawks beat the Cardinals.)

Dolphins-Bills: The Dolphins are in the playoffs if they win out. They can also clinch the playoffs this week if they win while both the Bengals and Ravens lose.

Vikings-Bengals: The Bengals win the AFC North if they win and the Ravens lose, and the Bengals clinch a playoff berth if they win and the Dolphins lose.

Cowboys-Redskins: If the Cowboys win, they’re a Week 17 win over the Eagles away from winning the NFC East. If the Cowboys lose, they’ll be eliminated unless the Eagles also lose to the Bears.

Raiders-Chargers: The Chargers’ playoff chances are slim, but they can still get in if they win out and get some help.

Playoff implications, but not for either team playing

Browns-Jets: Although both of these teams are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, it’s still possible that this game could affect the AFC playoff race. The Steelers’ only path to the playoffs involves a four- or five-way tiebreaker that includes the Jets, and that can only happen if the Jets win this game. If the Jets lose, the Steelers are mathematically eliminated.

No playoff implications

Buccaneers-Rams, Titans-Jaguars: Do yourself a favor and don’t watch these games.

20 responses to “14 games have playoff implications

  1. Parity nirvana brought to you by Roger Goodell and his band of merry officials.

    Happy Holidays.

  2. Ahh parity. It affects every team save for the mighty New England Patriots. In time it will affect us too but no team since 2001 has defied parity like the pats. Talk all the smack you want but facts are facts, how many years have the pats missed the playoffs in the past twelve years? Even when Brady was out we managed 11 wins and missed the playoffs by a hair. Top to bottom it’s the most well built organization in the NFL. We’ve lost how many starters this year and still gonna get a first round bye. Classic. Bring it on trolls.

  3. A Browns victory will eliminate the Steelers from the playoffs?


    Also, Go Falcons!

    Furthermore, and I don’t believe I actually am saying this, Go Redskins.

  4. Congrats to the vikqueens for having wrapped up the NFC basement 3 weeks before the end of the season.

    Their 53 year streak of irrelevance stays intact.

    I hope they all get the new blow-up boyfriends of their choice for Xmas.

  5. That last sentence was a low blow, ouch man….but like any true fan i will watch my Titans and cheer them on to win a meaningless game…Go Blue!

  6. Our Niners are coming on strong, and at the right time!

    We all know the NFC goes through Seattle for the Super Bowl….let’s just say that the 2nd round of the playoffs between the 49ers and Seattle will undoubtedly create a seismic event on the west coast and one everyone will not soon forget!

    Go Niners!

    Look forward to seeing you in Seattle!

  7. Why no Saturday games this year? Given the odds, very likely woulda had a national draw on a Saturday night game with playoff implications.

  8. There’s no REAL parity in the league; there are only 4 teams who can actually win it all this season: the Seahawks, Broncos, 49ers, or Saints.

    The other teams in the mix are just filler.

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