NFL Playoff Picture: Breaking Down Each Clinching Scenario for Week 15
As the NFL season inches closer and closer to its conclusion, the playoff picture continues getting more and more clear.
Week 15 of the NFL provides six different teams the opportunity to clinch either a playoff berth, division title, first-round bye or home-field advantage. By the start of Week 16, a few more aspects of the 2012-13 postseason should be cemented.
In the following slides, we'll dissect the clinching scenarios for each of the six teams.
Houston Texans: Division, First-Round Bye
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The Texans have already clinched a playoff spot, but Houston can both seal away their division and secure a first-round bye in Week 15.
With a win over the Indianapolis Colts, Houston clinches the AFC South crown for the second time in as many years.
To be awarded a first-round bye, the Texans need all of the following: a win over the Colts, a New England loss or tie to San Francisco and a Denver loss to Baltimore.
Atlanta Falcons: First-Round Bye, Home-Field Advantage
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The Falcons (11-2) can effectively cross off the rest of their regular-season goals with a win and some help in Week 15. With the NFC South in hand, Atlanta has just a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs left to accomplish.
They'll need some help for both.
Atlanta has three avenues to secure a first-round bye: A win over New York and a Green Bay loss or tie to Chicago, a win and a San Francisco loss to New England or a tie with New York and a Green Bay loss.
To secure home-field advantage, Atlanta needs a win, a San Francisco loss and a Green Bay loss or tie.
Indianapolis Colts: Playoff Berth
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The Colts are on the precipice of doing what no one thought they could this season.
With a win over the Houston Texans Sunday, Indianapolis would clinch a playoff berth just one season after finishing an NFL-worst 2-14.
The Colts don't have to win to secure the playoff berth, however.
If any of the following scenarios were to happen, Indianapolis could tie and still clinch: a tie with Houston and a Pittsburgh loss or tie with Dallas, or a tie with Houston and a Baltimore loss or tie with Denver.
Baltimore Ravens: Division, Playoff Berth
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Despite a current two-game losing streak, Baltimore can still clinch a playoff spot in Week 15.
The best-case scenario is a win over the Denver Broncos, which clinches the AFC North title. No other win-loss combination can secure the division for the Ravens this week.
However, the Ravens can also clinch a playoff berth with a tie or a Pittsburgh loss or tie.
Green Bay Packers: Division, Playoff Berth
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The division-winning formula is very simple for the Green Bay Packers. Beat the Chicago Bears on the road Sunday, and the NFC North is Green Bay's for the second straight season.
With a tie in Chicago, the Packers can also clinch a playoff berth three different ways: a Dallas loss, a Washington loss and a St. Louis tie; a Dallas loss, a Washington loss, a Minnesota loss and a San Francisco win; or a tie or Dallas loss, a Washington loss, a Minnesota loss and any scenario in which Seattle does not tie.
San Francisco 49ers: Division, Playoff Berth
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The 49ers can clinch the NFC West title with an impressive win on the road and some help across the border.
If San Francisco beats the Patriots in New England, and Seattle falls to Buffalo in Toronto, the 49ers would win the division title outright in Week 15.
Even if Seattle beats Buffalo, however, the 49ers would still clinch a playoff berth with a win over New England.
Five other scenarios can punch San Francisco's playoff ticket: a 49ers tie, a Dallas loss or tie, a Washington loss or tie and a Minnesota loss or tie; a 49ers tie, a Dallas loss or tie, a Washington loss or tie and a Green Bay-Chicago outcome not being a tie; a 49ers tie, a Dallas loss or tie, a Minnesota loss or tie and a Chicago loss; a 49ers tie, a Giants loss, a Minnesota loss or tie and a Chicago loss; or a 49ers loss, a Minnesota loss, a Dallas loss, a Washington loss and a Seattle loss or tie.