Most teams control their paths to the playoffs

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With just five Sundays remaining in the season, there’s good news for all the fans out there: For most of you, your favorite team still controls its path to the playoffs.

But just barely, as there are 18 teams that can say for certain that if they win out they’ll be in the postseason, while 14 teams either need help or are already out of playoff contention. We’ve gone through all the scenarios, and here’s how it plays out:

AFC East

New England: At 9-2, the Patriots win the division and earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win at least four of their final five games.

AFC North

Cincinnati: The 7-3-1 Bengals win the division if they win out.

Pittsburgh: The 7-4 Steelers win the division if they win out as well, because Pittsburgh and Cincinnati play twice. A 12-4 Steelers team would win a tiebreaker over either a 12-4 Browns team or a 12-4 Ravens team, which is why the Steelers control their path to the division title while the Browns and Ravens don’t.

AFC South

Indianapolis: The 7-4 Colts clinch the division if they win at least four of their final five games.

AFC West

Denver: The 8-3 Broncos clinch the division if they win at least four of their final five games.

AFC wild card

Kansas City: The 7-4 Chiefs still play the Chargers and Steelers and would win a conference record tiebreaker with the Browns or Ravens.

San Diego: The 7-4 Chargers still play the Chiefs and Ravens and would win a conference record tiebreaker with the Browns.

Ravens: The 7-4 Ravens still play the Chargers and Browns and by winning out would finish ahead of either the Steelers or Bengals.

Browns: The 7-4 Browns still play the Ravens and by winning out would finish ahead of either the Chargers or Chiefs, as well as either the Steelers or Bengals.

NFC East

Philadelphia: The 9-3 Eagles clinch the division if they win at least three of their final four games.

NFC North

Green Bay: The 8-3 Packers clinch the division if they win out.

Detroit: The 8-4 Lions also clinch the division if they win out, as that would include Week 17 at Green Bay, which would give the Lions the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta: The 4-7 Falcons clinch the division if they win out.

New Orleans: The 4-7 Saints clinch the division if they win out. New Orleans hosts Atlanta in Week 16.

Carolina: The 3-7-1 Panthers clinch the division if they win out. The Panthers play at New Orleans in Week 14 and at Atlanta in Week 17.

NFC West

Arizona: The 9-2 Cardinals clinch the division and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they win out.

NFC wild card

Seattle: The 8-4 Seahawks clinch at least a wild card if they win out.

Dallas: The 8-4 Cowboys clinch at least a wild card if they win out.

46 responses to “Most teams control their paths to the playoffs

  1. So, if the Ravens win out they beat the Bengals? But if the Bengals win out, they would have a better record. I wish research would be done before posting.

    Michael David Smith replies: I wish reading comprehension were a requirement for commenting. It says if the Ravens win out they would finish ahead of EITHER the Steelers OR the Bengals. The Steelers and the Bengals still play each other, which means that if the Ravens win out, they’re guaranteed to finish ahead of one of those two.

  2. nopepper123: Bengals and Steelers play each other twice. It says the Ravens will finish over the Bengals or Steelers. Depends on who wins. Either way one team has to lose or both tie, in that case the Ravens winning out would put them ahead.

    In the case of the Ravens winning out and there being a split ravens would be in 1st, in the case of sweep, the sweeping team would be in first.

  3. Hey Seattle fan. Just make sure you check in next Sunday afternoon after you’re completely run out of the stadium in Philly, beaten handily by Mr Buttfumble himself. It will be a day of GLORY

  4. Here in a Washington, we control our own chances … Of getting a top three pick in the 2015 draft!! Woo-hoo!!!

  5. Umm excuse me guys. You seem to be leaving out the greatest 6-5 team of all time the Miami Dolphins. You know, the team with the unstoppable defense that has the AFC on the run and is a lock for the playoffs?

  6. The Bengals have the most to worry about. They have a non-conference game this week, so it won’t matter much if they win or lose, but any loss in their division just might put them out of the playoffs for good. Steelers are looking real good right now, it looks like the worst they can do is a wild-card berth.

    I think it will end up NE, Den, Pitts, Colts as division leaders, with SD, KC, Cincy fighting for the wildcard spots. Chargers @ KC (the final game for both teams) just might be the game that does it. Likely one of those teams will be the spoiler.

  7. When all is said and done, Mr. Pete Carroll, the leagues best coach, will have the Seahawks back in the Super Bowl.
    Opposing the Birds, will be the KC Chiefs, led by Mr. Andy Reid, the leagues 2nd best coach.

    Sorry Denver fans, the Donkeys are going back, and the AFC west division belongs to KC. Old man Manning is done, and your team will be hamstrung from the salary cap, and the high percentage of old players for years.

    This will be the best of ALL of the previous Super Bowls.

  8. I really get a kick out of NFL fans ragging on one another lol my team this! Your team that’s! lol lol it makes for great comedy! Keep it up boys and girls! PS Thanks for all the laughs!

  9. Out of those AFC teams, if one runs the table to the end of the season, they will probably be in the SB. Too many games against one another.

  10. The bottom line is this: No one knows the seeding yet! Pat’s loose there last 4 games and the Dolphins win out? Who knows, who’s going to win NFC North? Same goes for the NFC South. NFC West. AFC East is a 3 team race. AFC North is a 4 team race. AFC South us a 2 team race. AFC West is a 3 team race. NFC East is a 2 team race. NFC North is a 2 team race. NFC South is a 4 team race NFC West is a 4 team race. Then you have all the Wild card teams and also the teams that are still mathematically alive. Yeah, one could say. well this team is better then that team or this team holds a tie breaker over that team! Bottom line is, no one knows who is winning what? Until the last snap in the last game of the regular season!

  11. Also I saw a post that said the Cowboys O line wasn’t the best in the League?!! What?!!! I hate, HATE the Cowboys! But let’s face it, they do have the best O line! Now they had a bad day on Thursday, Which we’ll happen to every team! I do know this, the Cowboys had the best O line I ever saw in the early 90’s and still have not seen yet in my entire life! But guess what,,,, that same O line that won 3 Super Bowls! Also gave up 10 Sacks against the Eagles in 1989. So having a bad day happens! Yes, I just watched the “Wall” on the NFL Network today! Again, I hate the Cowboys! But to say there O line is overrated? Well, then you’re just drinking your teams Kool-Aid! Because I haven’t seen an O line like the Cowboys have now. Well, since they won 3 Bowles! The Eagles also have a great O line too! No wonder why those two teams are fighting it out for the Division. PS I hate the Eagles too! But I’m a Football fan! Not a laundry fan!

  12. Iknownothing: Denver is done by their old age but if you take out Manning and Ware they have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL…that makes sense, who could deal with having 2 of their 53 players being that old?!?!?!

    Btw with a win tomorrow Denver pretty much wraps up the West, essentially a 3 game lead with 4 games left.

  13. Finally a Cowboys hater with football intelligence. So much better then they suck, their trash. Keep it up 34defense2014 so refreshing from the same old I hate the cowboys crap..

  14. Notwithstanding that this article is about teams controlling their destiny, I think you had a moral obligation to point out that the 2-9 Buccaneers would win their division if they win out, and the other three teams do no better than 2-3.

    I mean, seriously, in your lifetime, do you ever think you’ll ever again be able to write about a 2-9 team having a chance to make the playoffs, let alone it being more than just a mathematical chance?

  15. New England: At 9-2, the Patriots win the division and earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they win at least four of their final five games.
    ——————————————————–
    And the Packers await in the confines of the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field…

    Good thing it’s not five out of five.

  16. 34defense2014 says: Nov 29, 2014 6:23 PM

    Also I saw a post that said the Cowboys O line wasn’t the best in the League?!! What?!!! I hate, HATE the Cowboys! But let’s face it, they do have the best O line! Now they had a bad day on Thursday, Which we’ll happen to every team! I do know this, the Cowboys had the best O line I ever saw in the early 90’s and still have not seen yet in my entire life! But guess what,,,, that same O line that won 3 Super Bowls! Also gave up 10 Sacks against the Eagles in 1989. So having a bad day happens! Yes, I just watched the “Wall” on the NFL Network today! Again, I hate the Cowboys! But to say there O line is overrated? Well, then you’re just drinking your teams Kool-Aid! Because I haven’t seen an O line like the Cowboys have now. Well, since they won 3 Bowles! The Eagles also have a great O line too! No wonder why those two teams are fighting it out for the Division. PS I hate the Eagles too! But I’m a Football fan! Not a laundry fan!
    ================

    Do you get your exclamation points in bulk from Costco?

  17. I’m confused…you say if the Steelers win out they win the division because they have tie breakers over the Ravens and Bengals, but then you say if the Ravens win out they finish ahead of the Steelers and Bengals. The Ravens and Steelers don’t play each other again, so something in those statements is wrong.

  18. For the 11th yr in a row my Rams won’t just be left out of playoff talk, they finish with another losing record. But at least we’ll get to take part in the draft talk AGAIN. Yes…it gets old.

  19. It’s funny how people are talking about the Browns like their this little joke the have come this far! Yet really the blew up pit blew up bengals, and lost two trap games. They don’t have a harder schedule than the rest of the AFC North so why don’t we really talk about them like they are a contender not a pretender!

  20. Look through the article other than my comments the words Cleveland and Browns aren’t mentioned. Why? Because they don’t stand a chance? Bengals Buffallo Baltimore and Carilina should all be Ws. The only team that frightens me is Indy.

  21. Chargers have one of, if not the most difficult road to the post season. Road games against Bal, SF, and KC. Plus Denver and NE at home. They need to win at least four, if not all of their games to get in.

  22. Seahawk fan here.

    Hey all you 12’s:

    Remeber 2 weeks ago when Hawks were 6-4 and the Cards were 9-1. All the word was about how the Hawks were done.

    What a difference 2 weeks makes?

    I would like to make a point of saying that the Cards caught a real bad break when Carson Palmer went out for the season. There is only so much a team can take on the injury equation before it all adds up to losses. I like the Cards but I think they will have a tough time of it with Stanton as QB.

    But it is all about how the season unfolds in its entirety. A few weeks ago Seahawks were playing like they were dazed and confused. Now its like gangbusters.

    Go Hawks!

  23. Funny how now all of a sudden only the next matchup matters for Dallas fans. Wasn’t the case last week, isn’t the case now. Any way you slice it, that game was bigger for Dallas than it was for Philly

    Bottom line, even if Dallas does beat Philly in Philly, they need help to win the division. If Dallas wins out, and Philly beats Seattle, NYG and Redskins, the Eagles win the division since they only have 1 division loss

    Meanwhile, if the Eagles win their next 2 games, the division is over. If the Cowboys look past the Bears and slip up, the Eagles could lose to Seattle, and still clinch with a win.

    Plus, Philly gets Seattle at home (seahawks are a different team on the road), Dallas at home, followed by trips to NY and Washington, who are division rivals, but will both be completely finished by that point.

    Dallas gets Chicago on the road in that slop, Philly in Philly, Indy who will be fighting for a bye, and finish up in Washington

    Clearly Dallas has the tougher road, even if they do beat Philly

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