Complete NFL Playoff Scenarios

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Complete NFL Playoff Scenarios
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Despite only two playoff spots being up for grabs during the final week of the regular season, the NFL needs the final 16 games to complete the entire postseason picture in 2012. 

Week 17 will determine the winner of the NFC East and the final NFC wild-card slot, but nine of the 12 remaining teams still do not have a locked-in seed for the postseason. 

The Atlanta Falcons (No. 1, NFC), Indianapolis Colts (No. 5, AFC) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 6, AFC) are the only three teams that have clinched both a playoff berth and a seed. 

Seven other teams have clinched playoff berths but need Week 17 results to lock in playoff seeds: Green Bay Packers (NFC North winner), San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos (AFC West winner), Houston Texans (AFC South winner), New England Patriots (AFC East) and Baltimore Ravens (AFC North). 

Below, we will present a streamlined run-through of what Week 17 means for each playoff team's potential scenarios and seeding. 

 

National Football Conference (NFC)

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Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

Week 17: vs. Carolina Panthers

What's at stake: Zero. The Falcons are locked into the No. 1 seed in the NFC and will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye)

 

Green Bay Packers (11-5)

Update: The Packers' loss to the Vikings clinched the No. 3 seed. They will host Minnesota in Green Bay during the Wild Card round. 

Week 17: at Minnesota Vikings

What's at stake: A win over the Vikings clinches the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Green Bay can also clinch a first-round bye with either a tie and a San Francisco loss or tie or San Francisco loss and Seattle loss or tie. A loss and any other scenario clinches the No. 3 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Minnesota, vs. Chicago, vs. Washington, vs. New York

 

San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)

Update: The 49ers clinched the NFC West and a first-round bye (No. 2 seed) in the NFC playoffs. They will play the lowest remaining seed in the Divisional Round. 

Week 17: vs. Arizona Cardinals

What's at stake: With a win or tie or Seattle loss or tie, the 49ers clinch the NFC West. To clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, San Francisco needs either a win or a tie and a Green Bay loss. A loss and a Seattle win would push the 49ers to the No. 5 seed, while a win and a Packers win would clinch the No. 3 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Minnesota, vs. Chicago, vs. New York, vs. Washington, vs. Dallas

 

Washington Redskins (10-6)

Update: Washington clinched both the NFC East and the No. 4 seed. The Redskins will host the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card round. 

Week 17: vs. Dallas Cowboys

What's at stake: Washington will win the NFC East and clinch the No. 4 seed with a win or a tie against the Cowboys. A loss would necessitate a Chicago and Minnesota loss for the Redskins to make the postseason as the No. 6 seed, but Chicago already beat Detroit. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: vs. Seattle, at Green Bay, vs. San Francisco

 

Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

Update: The Seahawks are locked into the No. 5 seed in the NFC. Seattle will travel to Washington to take on the Redskins in the Wild Card round. 

Week 17: vs. St. Louis Rams

What's at stake: To clinch the NFC West, Seattle needs a win and a San Francisco loss. The Seahawks can still get the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye with a win and both San Francisco and Green Bay losing. Seattle would clinch the No. 5 seed with a loss. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Minnesota, at Washington, at Dallas, vs. New York, vs. Chicago

 

Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

Update: The Vikings clinched the NFC's No. 6 seed and will travel to Green Bay to play the Packers in the Wild Card round.

Week 17: vs. Green Bay Packers

What's at stake: The Vikings can clinch a playoff berth in three different ways: A win over Green Bay, a tie and a Chicago loss or tie, a Dallas loss or tie, a New York loss or tie. In any scenario, the Vikings would be the No. 6 seed.

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Green Bay, at San Francisco, at Seattle

 

Chicago Bears (10-6)

Update: Thanks to the Vikings' win over the Packers, Chicago has been eliminated from the NFC playoffs.

Week 17: at Detroit Lions

What's at stake: Chicago can clinch the No. 6 seed with a win and Minnesota loss or tie. The Bears can also get in with a tie and a Minnesota loss. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Green Bay, at San Francisco, at Seattle

 

Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Update: The Cowboys have been eliminated from the NFC playoffs. 

Week 17: at Washington Redskins

What's at stake: The Cowboys have just one avenue to make the postseason, and that's a win over Washington. Dallas would then clinch the NFC East and the No. 4 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Seattle, at San Francisco

 

New York Giants (9-7)

Update: Thanks to the Bears' win over the Lions, New York has been eliminated from the NFC playoffs.

Week 17: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

What's at stake: New York also has just one way to get into the playoffs, but it's much more complicated. The Giants need a win, a Dallas loss or tie and losses by Chicago and Minnesota. In that scenario, New York would be the No. 6 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Green Bay, at San Francisco, at Seattle

 

American Football Conference (AFC)

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Houston Texans (12-4)

Update: The Texans are locked into the No. 3 seed and will host the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. 

Week 17: at Indianapolis Colts

What's at stake: Houston would have clinched a first-round bye with a win or a tie, but it lost to Indianapolis. A New England loss or tie or a Denver loss also clinches the No. 2 seed for Houston. To secure the No. 1 seed, Houston needs a win or a tie and a Denver loss or tie or a New England loss or tie and a Denver loss. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Cincinnati

 

Denver Broncos (13-3)

Update: The Broncos have clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC and will play the highest remaining seed in the Divisional Round in Denver.

Week 17: Kansas City Chiefs

What's at stake: A Broncos win or tie or a New England loss or tie clinches the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye for Denver. The Broncos can also clinch the top seed with a win and a Houston loss or tie or a Denver tie and a Houston loss. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Cincinnati

 

New England Patriots (12-4)

Update: The Patriots have clinched the No. 2 seed in the AFC and will play the lowest remaining seed in the Divisional Round in New England. 

Week 17: Miami Dolphins

What's at stake: New England can secure the No. 2 seed with a win and a Denver loss or a win and a Houston loss. To get the AFC's top seed, the Patriots would need a win, a Denver loss and a Houston loss. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: N/A (first-round bye), vs. Cincinnati, vs. Indianapolis

 

Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

Update: The Ravens' loss to the Bengals Sunday locked Baltimore into the No. 4 seed. They will face the Colts, who are locked into the No. 5 seed. 

Week 17: at Cincinnati Bengals

What's at stake: With a win and a New England loss, the Ravens would jump the Patriots for the AFC's No. 3 seed. Any other scenario and Baltimore is the No. 4 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: vs. Cincinnati, vs. Indianapolis 

 

Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

Update: The Colts are locked into the No. 5 seed seed and will travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens in the Wild Card Round. 

Week 17: vs. Houston Texans

What's at stake: Zero. Win or lose, the Colts are locked into the No. 5 seed. 

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Baltimore, at New England

 

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

Update: The Bengals are locked into the No. 6 seed and will travel to Houston to face the Texans in the Wild Card Round. 

Week 17: Baltimore Ravens

What's at stake: Zero. Even with a win, the Bengals can't jump the Colts for the No. 5 seed or the Ravens in the AFC North. Cincinnati will be the No. 6 seed.

Potential first-round playoff matchups: at Baltimore, at New England, at Denver, at Houston

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