As we head into Week 17 of the 2020 NFL season, the race for the NFL playoffs is heating up, and teams are beginning to clinch those all important spots. Each week we will take a look at which teams have clinched spots when the 2020 NFL playoffs begin, as well as breaking down the clinching scenarios in the week ahead.
Who has clinched a spot in the 2020 NFL playoffs?
Week 16 saw another team clinch a playoff spot, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks also clinching their divisions. Let’s take a look at who has clinched a 2020 NFL playoff spot in each conference.
Who has clinched a playoff spot in the NFC?
The New Orleans Saints became the first team to clinch a playoff spot in 2020 back in Week 13. The Saints needed to beat the Falcons while also requiring the Detroit Lions to beat the Chicago Bears. The Saints and Lions both won, clinching the Saints a 2020 NFL playoff berth. However, the Saints’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Minnesota Vikings, means the Saints will have to wait another week to clinch the NFC South.
The Green Bay Packers had more success than the Saints in Week 14. The Vikings’ loss, combined with the Packers’ victory over the Detroit Lions, clinched the NFC North. The Packers also took over control of the top seed in the NFC. With the Saints and Packers on the same record at 10-3, there is no clinching scenario for the Packers in Week 15. However, if the Packers win their last three games, they will take the top seed in the conference, regardless of the Saints’ results.
The Seattle Seahawks just needed a victory in Week 15 to clinch a playoff spot. They did exactly that, although it was not an easy victory against the Washington Football Team. The Seahawks secured the NFC West with a victory in Week 16.
Saturday of Week 16 saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinch their spot in the 2020 NFL playoff race. The Buccaneers produced a complete performance against the Detroit Lions to book their place as a wild card team.
Who has clinched a playoff spot in the AFC?
The Kansas City Chiefs made tough work of the Denver Broncos in Week 13, but they also clinched a 2020 NFL playoff berth. There were multiple scenarios for how the Chiefs could have locked up a playoff berth, but the simplest was to win. They did just that and became the first AFC team confirmed in the 2020 NFL playoffs. In Week 15, the Chiefs’ victory over the Dolphins also clinched the AFC West. In Week 16, the Chiefs clinched the first-round bye.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have now missed out on an opportunity to clinch their division twice. In Week 14, their loss meant the Browns also losing did not give them the division. Equally, with the Browns winning and the Steelers losing in Week 15, the division remained alive for at least another week.
However, despite their Week 14 loss, the Steelers did clinch a playoff spot. The Steelers either needed to win or have one of the Tennessee Titans, Las Vegas Raiders, or Miami Dolphins to lose. Both the Raiders and Dolphins lost their matchups, handing the Steelers a place among the 2020 NFL playoff teams. The Steelers clinched the division with a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16.
Saturday of Week 15 saw the Buffalo Bills join the Steelers and Chiefs in the playoffs. The Bills only needed a victory against the Denver Broncos to lock up the division. They did just that and shut the Miami Dolphins out before they even stepped on the field in Week 15.
Which NFC teams have clinching scenarios in Week 17?
Week 17 brings a myriad of clinching scenarios. The Packers, Seahawks, and Saints are fighting for a first-round bye, while the other five teams battle it out for seeding and not to be the final team eliminated. All of the scenarios below are influenced heavily by the various tiebreaker situations that the NFL has put in place.
Green Bay, Seattle, and New Orleans could all wind up as the number one seeds
The situation for the Packers is the simplest. If they win, they will clinch the first-round bye with a 13-3 record. The Packers will also clinch if the Seahawks fail to win.
If the Seahawks win, and the Packers and Saints both lose, the Seahawks will clinch the first-round bye. In the event the Seahawks, Packers and, Saints all finish 12-4, the Saints would clinch the first-round bye.
Three teams can win the NFC East in Week 17
The Washington Football Team is the only team that has control of winning the NFC East in their own hands. If they win, they win the division. However, if they lose, it opens the door for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
The Giants and Cowboys both need Washington to lose, with the winner of their matchup clinching a playoff spot. The Cowboys can also clinch with a tie if Washington loses.
The Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, and Arizona Cardinals can clinch playoff spots in Week 17
Entering Week 17, all three of the Cardinals, Rams, and Bears have their playoff futures in their own hands. All three can clinch a playoff spot with a win.
The Bears need to win, the Cardinals to lose, or both themselves and Arizona to tie to clinch a playoff spot. The Rams need to avoid losing, or have the Bears fail to win. The Cardinals either need to win or have the Bears lose while they tie with the Rams.
Which AFC teams can clinch a spot in the 2020 NFL playoffs in Week 16?
The situation in the AFC is extremely complex. Five teams enter Week 17 tied at 10-5, competing for four playoff spots.
The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts can secure the AFC South this week
The situation for the Titans within the division is simple in Week 17. Match or better the Colts’ result and they win the AFC South. If the Colts better the Titans’ result, they will win the AFC South.
How can Baltimore, Cleveland, and Miami clinch playoff spots in Week 17?
Quite simply, all three need to win in Week 17. If all three win, they are in the playoffs in their current order. However, if any of them fail to win, while the Colts lose, it becomes more complex.
Miami holds the fifth seed entering Week 17, so if they lose, they just need one of the other teams to lose to clinch a playoff spot. The Ravens can afford to lose, as long as one of the Browns or Colts also loses. For the Browns to clinch despite losing, they have two scenarios. The simplest would be for the Colts to lose. However, the alternative is if the Titans lose, the Dolphins and Ravens win or tie, then the Browns would clinch despite a loss.
The Titans clinch a playoff berth, regardless of their result, if either the Dolphins or Ravens lose. If the Titans tie, they would need either the Ravens or Dolphins to tie or the Browns to lose.
The Indianapolis Colts need help to make the playoffs
Of the five teams with playoff-clinching scenarios, only the Colts do not have control of their own destiny. The Colts need to win or tie and then rely on one of the Ravens, Browns, Dolphins, or Titans to lose.