Playoff Spots On the Line This Weekend

The NFL expanded to 14 playoff teams this year, and only one team in each conference will earn a first-round bye. With two weeks left in the season, only six of the 14 spots have been claimed, three in each conference. There’s a lot to play for over the final two weeks.

AFC Playoff Picture

In the AFC, two of the four divisions have been clinched. The Kansas City Chiefs have wrapped up another AFC West, and the Buffalo Bills have clinched the AFC East for the first time since 1995. The Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed this weekend with a win over Atlanta or a loss by either the Steelers or Bills.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have clinched a playoff spot but have not yet locked up the AFC North after Monday’s loss in Cincinnati. The Steelers clinch the North this week with a win at Indianapolis or a Cleveland Browns loss.

Speaking of the Browns, they can finally end the franchise’s long playoff drought with a road win over the New York Jets on Sunday, plus a loss by either Baltimore, Miami, or Indianapolis. The Colts can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a loss by either Baltimore or Miami.

The Tennessee Titans can wrap up the AFC South Sunday night with a win in Green Bay as long as the Colts lose earlier in the day to the Steelers. The Titans clinch a playoff spot with a win or a loss by Baltimore or Miami.

The Ravens and Dolphins cannot clinch this weekend, but their results are instrumental in many other team’s playoff fates.

NFC Playoff Picture

The three spots clinched in the NFC belong to the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Seattle Seahawks. Only the Packers have clinched a division title as NFC North champions, and they currently hold the top seed. The Packers can clinch the bye this week with a Sunday night win over Tennessee as long as Seattle loses earlier in the day to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Saints clinch the NFC South with a Christmas Day win over the Minnesota Vikings. If they fall to Minnesota, they can still clinch the division if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to Detroit on Saturday. Tampa Bay clinches a playoff spot if they beat Detroit, or if the Chicago Bears lose in Jacksonville on Sunday.

The Seahawks can also clinch the NFC West this weekend, and they have the easiest scenario in the league. The 10-4 Seahawks host the 9-5 Rams, and a win give Seattle the division. On the other side of the field, the Rams clinch a playoff spot and take the season tiebreaker over the Seahawks with a win.

The Washington Football Team can become unlikely NFC East champions this weekend. Their path to the division title, with a losing record, is to beat Carolina while the New York Giants lose in Baltimore.

The Arizona Cardinals can also clinch a playoff spot this weekend. They need to beat or tie the San Francisco 49ers while the Bears lose in Jacksonville.

There is a unique scenario in which 13 of 14 playoff spots and all eight division titles could be wrapped up this weekend. That would leave just the final spot in the AFC up for grabs in Week 17 between the Ravens, Dolphins, and possibly Las Vegas Raiders.