Updated NFL Playoff Scenarios for Every Team

John RozumCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2012

Updated NFL Playoff Scenarios for Every Team

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    The NFL playoff scenarios have plenty to clear up in Week 17.

    Or, plenty more chaos to add based on each team's postseason possibilities.

    We know one thing for certain: The road to Super Bowl XLVII in the NFC will go through the Atlanta Falcons.

    And despite a total of 10 playoff spots having been clinched after Week 16, hardly anything has been decided. Where will the Houston Texans, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos finish?

    Well, to answer that along with a plethora of other questions, let's move ahead and check out playoff scenarios for every NFL team. 

    Also, here are the clinching scenarios according to NFL.com.

Houston Texans, 12-3

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    AFC South Champions

    Houston clinches a first-round bye with:
    1) HOU win or tie
    2) NE loss or tie
    3) DEN loss

    Houston clinches home-field advantage with:
    1) HOU win
    2) HOU tie + DEN loss or tie
    3) NE loss or tie + DEN loss

    Houston Drops to No. 2 seed if:
    1) HOU loses, DEN loses and NE wins

    Houston Drops to No. 3 seed if:
    1) HOU loses, DEN wins and NE wins

    Earning a playoff bye obviously leaves the divisional matchup open to numerous teams for Houston, but dropping to the third seed is quite the opposite. If the worst-case scenario were to occur, hosting the Cincinnati Bengals game or Indianapolis Colts happens in the Wild Card Round.

    Week 17: at Indianapolis Colts

Denver Broncos 12-3

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    AFC West Champions

    Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
    1) DEN win or tie
    2) NE loss or tie

    Denver clinches home-field advantage with:
    1) DEN win + HOU loss or tie
    2) DEN tie + HOU loss

    Denver Claims No. 2 seed if:
    1) HOU wins, DEN win or tie
    2) HOU, DEN and NE all lose or tie

    Denver Drops to No. 3 seed if:

    1) DEN loses and NE wins

    Currently sitting in the No. 2 spot, the Broncos still control their own destiny en route to a second week of rest.

    Obviously, winning this week results in facing anyone in the divisional round. If Denver does drop to the No. 3 seed, however, the Cincinnati Bengals or Indianapolis Colts will be the wild-card opponent.

    Week 17: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

New England Patriots, 11-4

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    AFC East Champions

    New England clinches a first-round bye with:
    1) NE win + DEN loss
    2) NE win + HOU loss

    New England clinches home-field advantage with:
    1) NE win + DEN loss + HOU loss

    New England claims No. 2 seed if:
    1) NE wins, HOU wins or ties and DEN loses

    New England claims No. 3 seed if:
    1) NE, DEN and HOU all win or tie
    2) BAL loses

    New England drop to No. 4 seed if:
    1) NE loses and BAL wins

    Regarding postseason matchups, the No. 3 seed is currently the most realistic spot. Finishing there once again sees either the Bengals or Colts.

    The crazy outcome of New England dropping once more is slipping to the No. 4 seed.

    Because the Baltimore Ravens own that head-to-head tiebreaker, the Patriots can't afford to flop in Week 17. Doing so with Baltimore winning results in the Pats likely hosting the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Round.

    Week 17: vs. Miami Dolphins

Baltimore Ravens, 10-5

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    AFC North Champions

    Baltimore claims No. 3 seed if:
    1) NE loses and BAL wins

    Baltimore claims No. 4 seed if:
    1) BAL loses or NE wins or ties

    The Baltimore Ravens still have a shot at the AFC's No. 3 seed. Provided they finish with the same record as the Pats, Baltimore holds that tiebreaker to move up one more spot.

    Hosting the New York Giants on Sunday, the Ravens bashed Eli Manning and Co. for a 10th win.

    Finishing as the No. 3 or 4 seed results in a matchup with either Indianapolis or, for a third time, Cincinnati.

    Week 17: at Cincinnati Bengals

Indianapolis Colts, 10-5

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    Clinched Playoff Berth

    With the Texans as division champs, only the fifth or sixth seed remains for the Indianapolis Colts.

    Fortunately, Indy took care of business in defeating the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

    Still, Indy can impact the rest of the AFC playoff picture. Winning over the Texans next week could potentially drop Houston to the Wild Card Round.

    Andrew Luck has made the postseason, though, which was quite a turnaround for Circle City after a forgetful 2011. 

    Week 17: vs. Houston Texans

Cincinnati Bengals, 9-6

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    Clinched Playoff Berth

    Winning over the Steelers in Week 16 was the deal-breaker for the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Now that Baltimore has clinched the division, Week 17's matchup against the Ravens could ultimately lead toward a third contest against Cincy's division rival.

    Nevertheless, the AFC postseason is set, and next week will determine the Wild Card Round travel plans for the Bengals and Colts.

    Week 17: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Atlanta Falcons, 13-2

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    NFC South Champions

    Clinched NFC Home-Field Advantage

    The Saturday night victory clinched home-field advantage for the Atlanta Falcons.

    With the rest of the NFC basically unsettled across the board, at least we know the conference's road to Super Bowl XLVII.

    Week 17: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers, 10-4-1

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    Clinched Playoff Berth

    San Francisco clinches NFC West division with:
    1) SF win or tie
    2) SEA loss or tie

    San Francisco clinches a first-round bye with:
    1) SF win + GB loss or tie
    2) SF tie + GB loss

    San Francisco claims No. 3 seed if:
    1) SF wins, GB wins
    2) SF loses and SEA ties

    San Francisco claims No. 5 seed if:
    1) SF loses and SEA wins

    If San Francisco does miss on a playoff bye and gets the No. 3 seed, a rematch with the Seahawks, Bears, Vikings or Giants is still possible, or a potential matchup against the Cowboys or Redskins.

    Failing to win the NFC West results in San Francisco getting the No. 5 seed and a showdown with the NFC East champion.

    Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals

Green Bay Packers, 11-4

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    NFC North Champions

    Green Bay clinches a first-round bye:
    1) GB win
    2) GB tie + SF loss or tie
    3) SF loss + SEA loss or tie

    Green Bay claims No. 3 seed if:
    1) SF wins and GB loses or ties
    2) SF ties, GB loses

    Winners of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers can find themselves no lower than the No. 3 seed next month.

    Titletown's potential postseason matchups are interesting as well.

    Should Green Bay finish as the No. 3 seed, the Packers would likely host the Vikings, Bears or Giants, all of which are regular-season rematches.

    Week 17: at Minnesota Vikings

Washington Redskins, 9-6

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    Washington clinches NFC East division with:
    1) WAS win or tie

    Washington clinches a playoff berth with:
    1) CHI loss + MIN loss

    If it receives the NFC's No. 4 seed, Washington can play host to Seattle or San Francisco.

    Earning a wild-card berth and not taking the division is also possible, because of head-to-head tiebreaker over Minnesota. Those possible matchups would likely come in the form of Green Bay, San Francisco or Seattle.

    Week 17: vs. Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks, 10-5

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    Clinched Playoff Berth

    Seattle clinches NFC West division:
    1) SEA win + SF loss

    Seattle clinches a first-round bye:
    1) SEA win + SF loss + GB loss

    Seattle claims No. 5 seed if:
    1) SF wins or ties
    2) SEA loses or ties

    Sunday night was obviously a big game for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Winning significantly bolstered a chance for the division and clinched a playoff spot.

    Holding head-to-head tiebreakers over the Vikings, Bears and Cowboys, Seattle has positioned itself impressively well this late.

    Week 17: vs. St. Louis Rams

Minnesota Vikings, 9-6

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    Minnesota clinches a playoff berth with:
    1) MIN win
    2) MIN tie + CHI loss or tie
    3) DAL loss or tie + NYG loss or tie + CHI loss

    The Minnesota Vikings control their own destiny for an NFC Wild Card.

    Holding the divisional record tiebreaker over the Chicago Bears, Minnesota can either get the fifth or sixth seed.

    The potential wild-card opponent, though, remains an open discussion.

    Earning the No. 5 spot would be a contest against the NFC East champion. Here, a rematch with the Redskins is the most appealing of opponents.

    Taking the No. 6 seed, though, and a third match against the Packers (should they lose) presents the toughest odds. Other rematch games at this seed would come against the Seahawks or 49ers.

    Week 17: vs. Green Bay Packers

Chicago Bears, 9-6

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    Chicago clinches a playoff berth with:
    1) CHI win + MIN loss or tie
    2) CHI tie + MIN loss

    The Chicago Bears need help, period.

    Fortunately, the situation isn't overly complex.

    Chicago faces an easier route to finish 10-6 after crushing the Cardinals in Week 16. The Bears face the Lions in Week 17, while the Vikings have to host Green Bay.

    Still, factor in Seattle holding the tiebreaker, and the Windy City's only possible finish is the No. 6 seed.

    At that position, Chicago could face a regular-season grudge match against the 49ers or Seahawks. Another possibility would be a third game against the Packers, where Green Bay is presented with a hat-trick opportunity.

    Week 17: at Detroit Lions

Dallas Cowboys, 8-7

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    Dallas clinches NFC East division with:
    1) DAL win

    The Dallas Cowboys didn't enter Week 16 as division leaders, but Tony Romo and Co. still controlled their own destiny.

    Well, Dallas flopped at home against the Saints, so a Week 17 victory over the Redskins is imperative for the Cowboys to make the playoffs. It's the simplest of scenarios: Win, and they're in.

    Doing so sets Big D up with a game against the NFC West runners-up.

    Week 17: at Washington Redskins

New York Giants, 8-7

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    NY Giants clinch a playoff berth with:
    1) NYG win + DAL loss or tie + CHI loss + MIN loss

    History appears to be repeating itself for the New York Giants.

    Meaning: a disappointing campaign down the stretch in the subsequent season after winning a Super Bowl.

    Big Blue finds itself barely in the NFC's postseason mix, because the Redskins and Cowboys hold better divisional records. The Giants should be hoping for a Washington victory in Week 17, as a Dallas win puts New York in third place in the NFC East.

    Earning a wild-card spot is better than at first glance as well. The Giants hold a better record in common games over the Vikings and Bears, which leaves the chance for a No. 6 seed still open, but only if those two teams lose.

    At No. 6, Eli Manning and Big Blue would likely see a rematch with the Packers or 49ers. Seattle is also a possibility.

    Week 17: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Teams Eliminated from Playoffs

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    Miami Dolphins (7-8)

    Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)

    New York Jets (6-9)

    Buffalo Bills (5-10)

    Cleveland Browns (5-10)

    San Diego Chargers (6-9)

    Tennessee Titans (5-10)

    Oakland Raiders (4-11)

    Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)

    Kansas City Chiefs (2-13)



    St. Louis Rams (7-7-1)

    New Orleans Saints (7-8)

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9)

    Carolina Panthers (6-9)

    Arizona Cardinals (5-10)

    Detroit Lions (4-11)

    Philadelphia Eagles (4-11)


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