Bears

2021 NFL season: Playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 17

Bears

With just two weeks to play in the 2021 NFL season, there are still eight playoff spots available.

That means six teams have already clinched spots in the 2021 postseason -- the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. Six AFC playoff spots are up for grabs, while two remain in the NFC.

Seven of those final eight playoff tickets can be punched on Sunday, Jan. 2. Five AFC teams and two NFC teams have playoff-clinching scenarios, though some are likely longshots that will have to wait for Week 18. Several of the playoff-bound teams can also clinch their divisions or seeding based on Sunday's results.

Here's a look at all the playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 17:

AFC

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)

The Chiefs have already clinched the AFC West division title, but KC can lock up the No. 1 seed (bye and homefield advantage) with either of the following results on Sunday:

  1. KC win + TEN loss or tie OR
  2. KC tie + TEN loss

Tennessee Titans (10-5)

The Titans can secure the AFC South title with these scenarios:

  1. TEN win OR
  2. IND loss OR
  3. TEN tie + IND tie

If the Titans don't clinch the division, they can still lock up a playoff spot on Sunday:

  1. TEN tie OR
  2. LAC loss/tie + BAL loss/tie OR
  3. LAC loss/tie + NE loss/tie OR
  4. BAL loss/tie + NE loss/tie

Buffalo Bills (9-6)

The Bills control their own destiny in the AFC East, meaning they clinch the division if they win out against the Atlanta Falcons in New York Jets. Here's how they can clinch a playoff spot in Week 17:

 
  1. BUF win + BAL loss/tie OR
  2. BUF win + LAC loss/tie + LV loss or tie OR
  3. BUF tie + MIA loss/tie + LAC loss + LV loss OR
  4. BUF tie + MIA loss/tie + LAC loss/tie + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie OR
  5. BUF tie + MIA loss/tie + LV loss/tie + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie OR
  6. BUF tie + NE loss/tie + LAC Loss + LV loss OR
  7. BUF tie + NE loss/tie + LAC loss/tie + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie OR
  8. BUF tie + NE loss/tie + LV loss/tie + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie OR
  9. BUF tie + LAC loss + LV loss + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie

Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Two things are on the line for Cincinnati on Sunday when they host the Chiefs: the AFC North title and a playoff spot. Here's how the Bengals can clinch the AFC North:

  1. CIN win OR
  2. CIN tie + BAL loss/tie OR
  3. BAL loss + CLE-PIT tie

And here's how the Bengals can clinch a playoff berth, which would have to involve a tie against the Chiefs:

  1. CIN tie + LAC loss + LV loss + MIA loss/tie OR
  2. CIN tie + LAC loss + LV loss + NE loss OR
  3. CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + MIA loss/tie + NE win OR
  4. CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + NE tie + MIA tie + BUF win/tie OR
  5. CIN tie + LAC loss + LV tie + NE loss + MIA win + BUF win/tie

Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

The Colts' road to the playoffs is simple: just win, baby. A victory against the Raiders in Week 17 punches their ticket, but there are other scenarios that can get Indy into the postseason:

  1. IND win OR
  2. IND tie + BAL loss + NE loss/tie OR
  3. IND tie + BAL loss + MIA loss/tie

New England Patriots (9-6)

After two straight losses, the Patriots are now fighting for their playoff lives as the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town in Week 17. Here's how the Pats can clinch a postseason spot:

  1. NE win + MIA loss/tie OR
  2. NE win + LV loss/tie OR
  3. NE tie + MIA loss + LV loss + LAC loss/tie OR
  4. NE tie + MIA loss + BAL loss/tie OR
  5. NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss + BAL loss + PIT loss/tie OR
  6. NE tie + LV loss + LAC loss/tie + BAL loss/tie + MIA win + BUF win

NFC

The Packers, Cowboys, Bucs, Rams and Cardinals are locked into the playoffs, so it comes down to seeding over the final two weeks of the season.

Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Aaron Rodgers and Co. already clinched the NFC North. Now, they are looked for more. Here's how Green Bay can secure the NFC's No. 1 seed in Week 17:

  1. GB win + DAL loss/tie OR
  2. GB tie + DAL loss + LAR loss + TB loss/tie OR
  3. GB tie + DAL loss + LAR tie + TB loss

Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

It seemed improbable a few weeks ago, but the Rams now control the NFC West after some wins coupled with Cardinals losses. Here's how L.A. can clinch the division on Sunday:

  1. LAR win + ARI loss/tie OR
  2. LAR tie + ARI loss

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

The Eagles are riding high after winning five of six games, and the playoff are now a very realistic possibility. A win over the Washington Football Team, plus some help, could get Philly back into the postseason:

  1. PHI win + MIN loss or tie + NO loss or tie OR
  2. PHI win + MIN loss or tie + SF win or tie OR
  3. PHI tie + MIN loss + NO loss + ATL loss or tie OR
  4. PHI tie + MIN loss + NO tie + ATL loss or tie + SF win or tie

San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

The 4-11 Houston Texans are heading to the Bay as the 49ers can clinch a wild card spot. Here's how it can happen on Sunday:

  1. SF win + NO loss or tie OR
  2. SF tie + MIN loss or tie + NO loss + ATL loss or tie