NFL playoff scenarios for Week 16: Browns and Colts can clinch a spot — with some help

The New Orleans Saints secured their fourth straight NFC South title with a win over the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured their first playoff berth since 2007 on Saturday afternoon and the Miami Dolphins kept their playoff hopes alive with a come-from-behind victory Saturday night to kick off Week 16 of the NFL season.

So far, six teams have clinched postseason berths, leaving seven spots still up for grabs — four in the AFC, and three in the NFC.


Here’s what the playoff picture looks like entering Sunday, including possible playoff-clinching scenarios:


Clinched playoff berth


1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1; AFC West champions)

Remaining games: vs. Falcons, vs. Chargers

Kansas City clinches the first-round bye with:

  • KC win or tie OR
  • PIT loss or tie OR
  • BUF loss or tie OR
  • KC clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over PIT or BUF AND clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over the other club

2. Buffalo Bills (11-3; AFC East champions)


Remaining games: at Patriots, vs. Dolphins

The Bills, who clinched their first AFC East division title since 1995, will be eliminated from first-round bye contention with a loss or tie against the Patriots; or a Chiefs win or tie; or a Steelers loss or tie.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3; lead AFC North)

Remaining games: vs. Colts, at Browns

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:

  • PIT win OR
  • CLE loss OR
  • PIT tie + CLE tie

In the hunt

4. Tennessee Titans (10-4; lead AFC South)

Remaining games: at Packers, at Texans

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:

  • TEN win + IND loss

Tennessee clinches playoff berth with:

  • TEN win OR
  • BAL loss OR
  • TEN tie + BAL tie

5. Cleveland Browns (10-4)

Remaining games: at Jets, vs. Steelers

Cleveland clinches playoff berth with:

  • CLE win + BAL loss or tie OR
  • CLE win + IND loss OR
  • CLE tie + BAL loss

6. Indianapolis Colts (10-4)

Remaining games: at Steelers, vs. Jaguars

Indianapolis clinches playoff berth with:

  • IND win + BAL loss or tie OR
  • IND tie + BAL loss

7. Miami Dolphins (10-5)

Remaining games: vs. Bills

The Dolphins, who beat the Raiders, 26-25, on Saturday night, could neither clinch a playoff berth nor be eliminated in Week 16.

On the bubble

8. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

Remaining games: vs. Giants, at Bengals

The Ravens can neither clinch a playoff berth nor be eliminated in Week 16. However, they would make the playoffs under these scenarios over the next two weeks:

  • Two wins AND one loss by the Dolphins (in Week 17), Colts or Browns. (The Ravens’ tiebreaker over the Dolphins would be strength of victory, where they currently hold a strong advantage.)
  • Two wins AND two losses by the Titans.
  • A Week 16 win vs. the Giants AND two losses by the Browns or Colts.
  • A Week 17 win vs. the Bengals AND a Week 17 loss by the Dolphins.


Clinched playoff spot

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3; NFC North champions)

Remaining games: vs. Titans, at Bears

Green Bay clinches the first-round bye with:

  • GB win + SEA loss or tie

2. New Orleans Saints (11-4; NFC South champions)

Remaining games: at Panthers

The Saints clinched the NFC South title with a 52-33 win over the Vikings on Christmas Day.

3. Seattle Seahawks (10-4; lead NFC West)

Remaining games: vs. Rams, at 49ers

Seattle clinches NFC West division title with:

  • SEA win

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5)

Remaining games: vs. Falcons

The Buccaneers clinched a playoff berth with a 47-7 win over the Lions on Saturday.

In the hunt

4. Washington Football Team (6-8; lead NFC East)

Remaining games: vs. Panthers, at Eagles

Washington clinches NFC East division title with:

  • WAS win + NYG loss or tie OR
  • WAS tie + NYG loss + PHI-DAL tie

6. Los Angeles Rams (9-5)

Remaining games: at Seahawks, vs. Cardinals

Los Angeles clinches playoff berth with:

  • LAR win or tie OR
  • CHI loss or tie

7. Arizona Cardinals (8-7)

Remaining games: at Rams

After a 20-12 loss to the 49ers on Saturday, the Cardinals need to beat the Rams and have the Bears lose to the Packers in Week 17 to get into the playoffs.

On the bubble

8. Chicago Bears (7-7)

Remaining games: at Jaguars, vs. Packers

11. Dallas Cowboys (5-9)

Remaining games: vs. Eagles, at Giants

12. New York Giants (5-9)

Remaining games: at Ravens, vs. Cowboys

14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-9-1)

Remaining games: at Cowboys, vs. Washington