NFL Playoff Scenarios: What Happens Next?By: Toni Matthews-El - December 17, 2013
Certain teams have already staked a claim in the playoffs. We’re likely to see an exciting series of games as the regular season draws to a close.
The Denver Broncos surprised no one by clinching a playoff spot. They are projected to be the top seeded team in the AFC division, but there’s still a lot in the air for them depending on how things shake out. Denver can clinch the AFC West and a first round-bye if they win and the Kansas City Chiefs lose. If both the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots lose while the Broncos win, it will give Denver not only the AFC West, but home-field advantage as well.
The Patriots need the Baltimore Ravens to lose in order to secure their playoff position. A loss by Miami means that New England will maintain their position at the top of the AFC East division. Earning the AFC East and first round-bye is a little trickier. In order for New England to get this, they must win with both the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals losing.
The Cincinnati Bengals meanwhile need to win and have the Miami Dolphins lose to get a playoff spot. If Cincinnati wins and Baltimore loses, the team will clinch the AFC North. The Baltimore Ravens need to win and have both the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins lose to get a playoff position.
In the NFC, the dominant Seattle Seahawks have already earned their place in the playoffs and are the projected top seeded team for their division. The Seahawks need a win or a loss by the San Francisco 49ers to secure the NFC West and gain home-field advantage.
The New Orleans Saints will clinch the NFC South and a first round-bye with a win. In the event that the Saints lose, they get can still get a spot in the playoffs. However, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers must both lose. An additional scenario had the Saints gaining a spot if the Chicago Bears also lose in addition to the Cardinals and 49ers.
The Philadelphia Eagles can finish at the top of the NFC East if they win and the Dallas Cowboys lose. The Cowboys face a tough task of collecting themselves following a shocking upset that saw them lose to the visiting Green Bay Packers at home for the first time in many years, and after holding a convincing lead for much of the game.
The Chicago Bears will clinch the NFC North with a win and the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers both suffering defeats.
Odds are longer for some teams than others, but nothing is set in stone and anything can happen. We’ve already seen MAJOR upsets just this past week.