Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Cardinals, Packers can clinch this week
Through 14 weeks of the season, no NFL team has clinched a playoff berth. On Sunday, five teams can clinch playoff berths.
Here are the NFL’s official playoff scenarios:
DENVER BRONCOS clinch the AFC West if they beat the Chargers on Sunday. Denver also clinches a first-round bye with a win and losses by the Colts, Bengals and Steelers. Even if the Broncos lose to the Chargers they can clinch a playoff berth if the Dolphins and Texans both lose and at least two AFC North teams lose.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS clinch the AFC East if they beat the Dolphins on Sunday. New England also clinches a first-round bye with a win and losses by the Colts and Steelers, as well as a loss by either the Bengals or Broncos. Even if the Patriots lose to the Dolphins they can clinch a playoff berth if they get enough help in the form of a loss by the Bills and various combinations of losses by teams including the Bengals, Steelers, Ravens, Texans, Chiefs and Chargers.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS clinch the AFC South if they beat the Texans on Sunday.
ARIZONA CARDINALS clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Rams on Thursday, as long as Sunday’s Cowboys-Eagles game doesn’t end in a tie.
GREEN BAY PACKERS clinch a playoff spot if they beat the Bills on Sunday and the Cowboys lose to the Eagles, as long as the Packers clinch the “strength of victory” tiebreaker over the Cowboys, which is frankly too complicated a calculation to be worth determining right now.
Of this week’s 16 games, only two have no playoff implications at all: Washington visiting the Giants, and the Jets at Tennessee. We apologize to those of you in New York for the lousy games you’re stuck watching on Sunday afternoon.