NFL Playoff Picture: These seven teams can clinch a postseason spot in Week 14
Through 13 weeks, no team in the NFL has clinched a playoff berth yet, but there’s a good chance that’s going to change on Sunday.
By the end of Week 14, we could see as many of seven of the NFL’s 12 playoff spots get clinched, meaning more than half the playoff field could be set by the time the Patriots and Dolphins finish up this week’s slate of games on Monday night.
Out of the seven teams that could clinch a playoff spot this week, four of them could clinch a division title, so we’ll start there in our look at this week’s clinching scenarios.
New England: To clinch their 14th AFC East title in the past 15 years, all the Patriots have to do is beat the Dolphins on Monday night. However, even if the Patriots lose that game, they could still be crowned AFC East champions this week. If the Bills lose to the Colts on Sunday, the Patriots will have clinched the division before even taking the field on Monday in Miami.
Pittsburgh: To clinch the AFC North title for third time in four years, all the Steelers have to do this week is beat the the Ravens at Heinz Field. Even if the Ravens are able to pull off the upset, the Steelers can also clinch a playoff berth — but not a division title — if the Bills lose to the Colts. Basically, if the Bills lose on Sunday, both the Steelers and Patriots will have clinched a playoff berth without even taking the field. The Bills play at 1 p.m. ET and the Steelers don’t kick off until 8:30 p.m. ET.
Philadelphia: After blowing a chance to clinch the NFC East in Week 13, the Eagles will get another chance on Sunday. To wrap up the division, all Philly needs to do is beat the 9-3 Rams. Of course, even if the Eagles lose in Los Angeles, they can still clinch the division if the Cowboys lose to the Giants. A win over the Rams would give the Eagles their first division title since 2013 and their first season with at least 11 wins since 2009.
Minnesota: One other division that could be wrapped up this weekend is the NFC North. If the Vikings beat the Panthers on Sunday, then they’ll officially clinch the division title. If the Vikings lose though, things get a little more complicated. With a loss, the Vikings can still clinch the division crown if BOTH the Lions and Packers lose on Sunday. Detroit is playing in Tampa Bay while the Packers are playing in Cleveland. If the Vikings clinch with both teams losing, that would be a true Christmas miracle because it would mean the Packers lost to the winless Browns.
Playoff spots that can be clinched, but not division titles
Jacksonville: The Jaguars haven’t made the postseason since 2007, but that drought could end on Sunday if a few things go Jacksonville’s way — and by a few things, we actually mean a lot of things. For the Jaguars to clinch a playoff berth, they would have to beat the Seahawks, and then ALL of the following would have to happen: Patriots over Dolphins, Colts over Bills, Redskins over Chargers and Broncos over Jets. You might want write that one down, Jaguars fans, because that’s a lot to remember.
L.A. Rams: The Rams are also looking to end a long playoff drought and their route to clinching a playoff berth this week might be even more complicated than Jacksonville’s. First, the Rams have to beat the Eagles. If that happens, the Rams would also need ALL of the following things to happen: Saints over Falcons, Vikings over Panthers, Browns over Packers, Buccaneers over Lions and Giants over Cowboys. Since both the Browns and Giants have to win in this scenario, we give the Rams about a 0.3 percent chance of clinching this week. If they do clinch, it would be the team’s first playoff berth since 2004.
New Orleans: After a four-year drought, the Saints can also clinch a playoff berth with a win this week. If the Saints beat the Falcons on Thursday, they’ll be closely watching their televisions on Sunday because there will be multiple ways for them to get in.
Option 1: Saints win plus Vikings over Panthers AND Buccaneers over Lions.
Option 2: Saints win plus Vikings over Panthers AND Giants over Cowboys
Option 3: Saints win plus Buccaneers over Lions AND Browns over Packers.
Of course, all of those options go out the window, along with New Orleans’ chances of clinching a spot this week if the Saints lost to Atlanta on Thursday.
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