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NFL Week 17 Playoff Clinching Scenarios

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The NFL enters Week 17 of the expanded playoff field of 14 teams compared to the previous playoff field of 12 with only half of the playoff team having clinched by week 17. It’s safe to say that adding an extra team to each side of the bracket has juiced up the intensity of the final week of games. Here are the NFL week 17 playoff clinching scenarios. Let’s get nuts.

NFL Week 17 Playoff Clinching Scenarios: NFC

NFC Wild Card

The NFC Wild Card race is down to three teams: the Rams, Cardinals, and Bears. With Tampa Bay already securing one of the three spots, each team needs a win and/or some help to secure a spot in the playoffs.

Of all of the NFL week 17 playoff clinching scenarios, LA has one of the easiest. Los Angeles needs a win over Arizona to secure a spot or a loss from the Bears. Chicago faces Green Bay at home this weekend. If Arizona is able to knock off the Rams, that will secure a spot for them and potentially eliminate Los Angeles. However, if Chicago loses and the Rams lose, the Rams will hold that final spot. If the Bears win and the Cardinals lose, Arizona is eliminated.

NFC East

The worst division in the NFL will finally come to a conclusion. To be honest, none of these teams really have any business being in any of the NFL week 17 playoff clinching scenarios, yet here we are.

Washington heads to Philadelphia, and Dallas heads to New York. All of the teams except Philadelphia are still in play to win the division title. If Washington defeats the Eagles, they’ll clinch the division. The Giants and Cowboys need some help from Washington in order to clinch. Whoever wins that game needs Washington to lose in order to clinch. That means in the Giants’ case, a 6-win team could make the playoffs.

NFC Home Field Advantage

The top three teams at the top of the NFC are Green Bay, New Orleans, and Seattle. In order to maintain home-field advantage throughout the tournament, they all need a win this weekend and some help. If Green Bay wins at Chicago, they’ll secure the number one seed outright.

For the Saints to garner home-field advantage, they need a win at Carolina plus the Seahawks to defeat San Francisco, which brings us to Russell Wilson‘s squad. They need a lot to surpass Green Bay and New Orleans. The Seahawks need to beat the 49ers and have both the Packers and Saints lose, which is asking a lot, but not entirely out of reach of happening.

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NFL Week 17 Playoff Clinching Scenarios: AFC

AFC Wild Card


This is where things get crazy. We do not yet know who will fill the AFC Wild Card spots, but we know how that will happen. Five teams remain in contention, but only three spots are up for grabs.

The Titans are the most interesting team because there’s a chance they could secure a division title or fall out of the playoff picture entirely. But we’ll get to them later. Currently, the first wild card team is the Miami Dolphins. The late-game heroics of Ryan Fitzpatrick against Las Vegas on Saturday helped lift them to the fifth seed spot going into Week 17. They can clinch that spot with a win, or one of the wild card spots with a Ravens loss to the Bengals, a Browns loss to the Steelers, or a Colts loss to the Jaguars.

In Baltimore’s case, they need a win over the Bengals to hold on to that sixth spot, or a Cleveland loss or an Indianapolis loss. If Baltimore loses, they will be out and set Cleveland up to jump up to that sixth spot. The Browns need a win over Pittsburgh to make the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. If they lose back-to-back games for the first time this season, they would need Indianapolis to lose to Jacksonville or more chaos to occur. The Browns would need Tennessee to lose to Houston, Baltimore to win, Indianapolis to win, and Miami to win.

That all would knock the Titans out of the playoffs because the Browns hold the tiebreaker against them. This brings us to Indianapolis and Tennessee. Both are playing for the AFC South title this weekend.

AFC South

It’s simple for the Titans. Win and clinch and even if Indianapolis were to lose, they would still be crowned AFC South champs. But, if Tennessee were to lose and the Colts win, that would knock Tennessee out of the tournament picture if Miami, Baltimore, and Cleveland all win given their record. They would need just one of those teams to lose to still secure a wild card spot. For the Colts, they would have to win and hope Tennessee loses to clinch the AFC South, but need either Miami, Baltimore, or Cleveland to lose to still secure a wild card spot.

So there you have it! One of the more intriguing Week 17’s we have seen in a long time with drama across the board! Enjoy the final regular-season weekend and Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading my article on the NFL week 17 playoff clinching scenarios. Follow me on Twitter @BrenDevCle.

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