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Week 16 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots try to lock up homefield

Week 16 Playoff Scenarios: Cowboys and Patriots try to lock up homefield

This is my 25th year handling the NFL playoff scenarios for the league and it never gets old, especially when you have exciting, meaningful games in the last three weeks of the season. 

This past week was no exception, as we had thrilling finishes for the early Sunday games with massive tiebreaker implications. It looks like we will have some great games next week as well. 

Most of America wakes up to playoff scenarios right about now, when more teams start clinching playoff spots and others are eliminated. We also have a lot of misinformation in the playoff scenarios market — including ESPN and others saying Carolina was eliminated this past Sunday and they are still alive heading into Monday Night Football — as everyone tries to figure out their favorite team's situation.

The time between Week 15 and 16 is usually the most interesting since we have many clinching scenarios and questions about what needs to happen over the last two weeks for "my team to get in."

Before we get to Week 16, let's recap Week 15.

Going into the week, we had 26 teams alive for 12 playoff spots with Dallas as the only team that had clinched a playoff berth. Twenty-six teams alive with three weeks to play was the most since 2004 and the third most in the NFL since 1990. The week started on Thursday as Seattle clinched the NFC West Division title by beating the Los Angeles Rams. 

Then, Saturday night's Miami win over the hapless New York Jets eliminated the San Diego Chargers, and it forced New England to win on Sunday to clinch the division. 

On Sunday, we saw Cincinnati and Philadelphia eliminated from the playoffs with their losses in the early window, while New England clinched the AFC East Division title and a first-round playoff bye and Oakland clinched a playoff berth in the afternoon. In addition, Arizona was eliminated from the playoffs with their loss.

On Monday Night, if Washington wins, that will eliminate both Carolina and New Orleans and put the Redskins back in the lead for the NFC's No. 6-seed. So during Week 15, we had three more playoff spots clinched for a total of four-of-12 spots taken and at least four more teams eliminated leaving 22 — or 20 if Washington wins — total teams left in Super Bowl contention.

QUIZ TIME: The New England Patriots have won their eighth consecutive division title — an NFL record. Which team won seven straight division titles in the 1970's? Answer Below.


CLINCHED: Dallas Cowboys — playoff berth. Seattle Seahawks — division title.
ELIMINATED: San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles.

Dallas Cowboys:
— Cowboys clinch NFC East division title and homefield advantage throughout playoffs: 
    1) DAL win or tie
    2) NYG loss or tie

Seattle Seahawks:
— Seahawks clinch a first-round bye:
    1) SEA win + DET loss + ATL loss or tie

New York Giants:
— Giants clinch a playoff berth:
    1) NYG win or tie
    2) DET loss or tie
    3) GB loss or tie
    4) TB loss or tie
    5) ATL loss 

Detroit Lions:
— Lions clinch NFC North division title:
    1) DET win + GB loss or tie
    2) DET tie + GB loss
— Lions clinches a playoff berth:
    1) DET win + TB loss or tie
    2) DET tie + TB loss
    3) DET tie + TB tie + ATL win
    4) WAS loss or tie + TB loss + ATL win or tie

Atlanta Falcons:
— Falcons clinch NFC South Division title:
    1) ATL win + TB loss or tie
    2) ATL tie + TB loss

— Falcons clinch a playoff berth:
    1) ATL win + ATL clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over DET
    2) ATL win or tie + GB loss or tie
    3) ATL win + DET loss or tie
    4) ATL tie + DET tie 
    5) WAS loss or tie + GB loss 
    6) WAS loss or tie + GB tie + DET loss 

Green Bay Packers:
— Packers clinch a playoff berth:
    1) GB win + WAS loss + TB loss + ATL win or tie + GB clinches 
          strength of victory tiebreaker over TB 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
— Buccaneers clinch a playoff berth:
    1) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS loss
    2) TB win + GB loss + DET loss + WAS tie + TB clinches strength of victory
        tiebreaker over DET


CLINCHED: New England Patriots — division title and first-round bye. Oakland Raiders— playoff berth.
ELIMINATED: Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, N Jets, San Diego, Cincinnati.

New England Patriots:
— Patriots clinch homefield advantage throughout AFC Playoffs:
    1) NE win + OAK loss or tie
    2) NE tie + OAK loss

Oakland Raiders:
— Raiders clinch AFC West Division title and a first-round bye:
    1) OAK win + KC loss or tie
    2) OAK tie + KC loss

Pittsburgh Steelers:
— Steelers clinch AFC North Division title:
    1) PIT win

Kansas City Chiefs:
— Chiefs clinch a playoff berth:
    1) KC win or tie
    2) BAL loss or tie

Houston Texans:
— Texans clinch AFC South Division title:
    1) HOU win + TEN loss

Miami Dolphins:
— Miami clinches a playoff berth:
    1) MIA win + DEN loss or tie
    2) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss or tie
    3) MIA tie + BAL loss + DEN loss + TEN loss or tie


  • If Washington wins MNF, we have the possibility of all 12 playoff spots being clinched during Week 16. It would be DAL, SEA, DET, ATL, NYG and WAS in NFC and NE, OAK, PIT, HOU, KC and MIA in the AFC.
  • CAROLINA is still alive for the playoffs going into MNF (contrary to many media reports). Here's what they need:
  1. CAR wins out
  2. TB loses out
  3. MIN beats GB and loses to CHI
  4. GB loses to DET
  5. NO loses to ATL
  6. WAS loses to CAR then loses one game and ties the other
  7. CAROLINA beats TB within division on conf record 7-5 to 6-6 (they tie in common opponents 6-6)
  8. Sets up 3-way tie for No. 6 seed between 7-7-2 (= 8-8) WAS, 8-8 MIN and 8-8 CAR
  9. They are all 1-1 in head-to-head play
  10. CAROLINA claims No. 6 seed based on better conference record (7-5 vs. WAS 5-6-1 and MIN 5-7)
  • Many more notes to come after Monday night

QUIZ ANSWER: The Los Angeles Rams won the NFC Western Division title from 1973 to 1979 and saw their streak end in 1980 when the 12-4 Atlanta Falcons bested the 11-5 Rams for the division championship.  Yes, the Atlanta Falcons were in the NFC "West" from the Conference's formation in 1970 until NFL Realignment in 2002.




  1. Dallas Cowboys
  2. Seattle Seahawks
  3. Atlanta Falcons
  4. Detroit Lions
  5. New York Giants
  6. Washington Redskins

AFC  PLAYOFFS              

  1. New England Patriots        
  2. Kansas City Chiefs        
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers        
  4. Tennessee Titans           
  5. Oakland Raiders            
  6. Miami Dolphins           

Enjoy Week 16 and best of luck to your favorite team!

MORE NFL: Redskins are in control of playoff destiny

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Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

Two other Redskins RBs intend to learn whatever they can from Adrian Peterson

A few weeks ago, running backs coach Randy Jordan floated a hypothetical out to his unit: If you could start a franchise with any guy, who would you pick?

Rob Kelley's answer was Adrian Peterson. And as fate would have it, Peterson is now a part of Kelley's franchise, a fact that has the third-year back floored. 

"I was kind of amazed," Kelley said on Tuesday, which was Peterson's first day as a 'Skin. "I have a opportunity to play with Adrian Peterson, it feels surreal."

Kapri Bibbs' reaction was much of the same.

"It's amazing having him in the building," he told reporters. "I couldn't hope for anything better."

Samaje Perine wasn't in a position to speak to the media by the time the locker room was closed, but at least in the eyes of Kelley and Bibbs, Peterson's arrival is something to embrace. It's not too often you get to go through drills and meetings with a guy who's going to have a bust in Canton sometime soon.

"I don't think there really is a cap to that," Bibbs answered when asked what he's hoping to pick up from Washington's new No. 26. "There's not too much you can learn from him."

"I got him here, what can I learn from him?" Kelley said in reponse to a similar question. "What can I gain from this situation? How can I make myself a better player by watching him?"

Bibbs revealed that Peterson is already "spilling information" to him, which lines up with Peterson saying at the podium in Ashburn he wants to come in and be a positive influence on the rest of the group.

However, Peterson also said in his presser that he "without a doubt" wants to be the starter, and if that does eventually happen, it'll come at the expense of someone else's spot on the roster or someone else's reps in a game, whether that be a Kelley, a Bibbs or a Perine.

That's not something that bothers two of the options already in the Burgundy and Gold's backfield, though.

"I'm always gonna come in every single day, regardless," Bibbs said when Peterson's resume and talents were brought up as something that could pressure him.

Kelley isn't stressed, either.

"Right now, I'm just putting my head down and working and trying to get better."


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Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Does Adrian Peterson want to start for the Redskins? 'Without a doubt'

Adrian Peterson wants to be a good teammate, but he also made clear that he came to the Redskins to compete for the starting running back job. 

"Without a doubt," Peterson said when asked if he wanted to start. "And I would be cheating myself if that wasn't my approach."

The legendary running back is right, of course. 

Elite athletes always want to be at the top, and that drive is what gets them there. Peterson has run for nearly 12,000 yards in his NFL career, and that doesn't happen by accident.

Coming to Washington presents a different challenge for Peterson. 

Unsigned until August 20th, Peterson ran for a career low 3.4 yards-per-carry last season in split time between the Saints and Cardinals. It's no sure thing he even makes the roster, let alone starts for the Redskins on September 9 when the season begins. 

Peterson, however, is confident he has more left in his legs. 

"I continue to work because at the end of the day I control my output. So that’s why I continue to work hard. I knew an opportunity would present itself. And at the end of the day, God’s willing, stay healthy, the guys up front stay healthy as well, I know that I’ll be able to contribute in a big way in the run game."



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