NFL Playoff Scenarios Week 16: Bengals, Ravens, and Chargers Vying To Clinch in AFC

What do the NFL playoff scenarios look like in Week 16, and which teams can clinch their spot in the postseason this weekend?

There are only three weeks left in the 2022 NFL regular season, but there’s still plenty to sort out in the standings and the playoff picture. Let’s run through the league and examine this week’s clinching scenarios for teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Chargers.

Week 16 NFL Playoff Scenarios

In the AFC, the Chiefs have already clinched the AFC West title, while the Bills have secured at least a playoff berth.

In the NFC, the Vikings have won the NFC North, and the 49ers have won the NFC West. Meanwhile, the Eagles and Cowboys have both clinched postseason appearances.

Baltimore Ravens Clinching Scenarios

The Ravens are still competing with the Bengals for the AFC North title, but Baltimore is now a game behind Cincinnati after losing to the Browns on Saturday. While the battle for the division crown could come down to a Week 18 Ravens-Bengals tilt, Baltimore could clinch a playoff berth in Week 16 through the following paths:

  • Ravens win, Dolphins lose or tie, and Patriots lose or tie
  • OR Ravens win, Dolphins lose or tie, and Jets lose or tie
  • OR Ravens win, Patriots lose or tie, and Jets lose or tie
  • OR Patriots lose, Jets lose, Browns lose or tie, Raiders lose or tie, Titans lose or tie, and Chargers win

The Ravens are 7.5-point home favorites against the Falcons. If they win that contest, they’ll need at least two of the non-Bills AFC East clubs to lose this weekend. Baltimore also has six clinching scenarios that involve a tie against Atlanta.

Buffalo Bills Clinching Scenarios

With a playoff berth already in the bag, the Bills can now set their sights on clinching their third consecutive AFC East title. Their path to the division crown is very simple:

  • Bills win or tie
  • OR Dolphins lose or tie

Buffalo is an 8.5-point road favorite against Chicago, while Miami is a 4-point home favorite against Green Bay. Even if they clinch the AFC East, the Bills need to keep winning to stick as the AFC’s No. 1 seed ahead of the Chiefs and Bengals, the latter of whom Buffalo will face in Week 17.

Cincinnati Bengals Clinching Scenarios

The Bengals are on an absolute roll, winning six straight and eight of their last nine. At 10-4, the AFC North and the conference’s top seed are still in play.

However, in Week 16, all Cincinnati clinch is a playoff berth. Here’s what they need to enter the dance:

  • Bengals win or tie
  • OR Jets lose or tie

The Bengals are 3.5-point favorites against the Patriots, while the Jets will face the Jaguars in a pick ’em on Thursday night. Given that New York plays on TNF, Cincinnati could enter their Saturday game in New England having already earned a postseason slot.

Los Angeles Chargers Clinching Scenarios

The Chargers can no longer take the AFC West, but after winning key games against the Dolphins and Titans to move to 8-6, Los Angeles can grab a playoff berth on Sunday.

Here’s what Brandon Staley’s Chargers need to happen this weekend to get a postseason spot:

  • Chargers win, Raiders lose or tie, Patriots lose, and Jets lose
  • OR Chargers win, Raiders lose or tie, Patriots lose, Jets lose, and Dolphins lose
  • OR Chargers win, Raiders lose or tie, Patriots tie, Jets lose, and Dolphins lose

The Chargers are 4.5-point favorites over the Colts on Monday Night Football. Still, even if Los Angeles wins, they’ll need a lot of help from other AFC clubs, so they might have to wait until Week 17 to clinch.

New York Giants Clinching Scenarios

After tying the Commanders in Week 13, the Giants got the better of Washington in Week 15. New York is now on track for a Wild Card berth following that critical win.

Here’s what Big Blue needs to clinch a playoff spot in Week 16:

  • Giants win, Commanders lose, and Lions lose
  • OR Giants win, Commanders lose, and Seahawks lose
  • OR Giants win, Lions lose, and Seahawks lose

Essentially, New York will need its other NFC Wild Card rivals to lose this weekend. The Giants are 3.5-point underdogs against the Vikings. Washington and Seattle are underdogs in their Week 16 games, while Detroit is favored.

Philadelphia Eagles Clinching Scenarios

The Eagles could be without Jalen Hurts in Week 16 — and potentially, for the rest of the regular season — after he suffered a shoulder sprain against the Bears. Philadelphia can attack several clinching possibilities even if they have Gardner Minshew under center.

If the Eagles win or tie against the Cowboys on Saturday, they will clinch the NFC East. They’ll also secure a first-round with a win over Dallas. In the unlikely event of a Philadelphia tie, the Eagles can also clinch the No. 1 seed if the Vikings lose or tie.

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