2023 NFL Playoff Scenarios: Who’s in, tiebreakers, clinching scenarios for Week 17

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Just two weeks remain in the NFL’s regular season. A handful of teams have already secured a spot in the postseason, while plenty of playoff berths and seeding remain to be decided.

Here’s how the AFC and NFC playoff races are shaping up after Week 16.

AFC DIVISION LEADERS

  • West: Kansas City (9-6) is currently ahead of Las Vegas (7-8) and Denver (7-8) for the division lead, and the Chiefs will clinch the division with one more victory.
  • East: Miami (11-4) is currently two games ahead of Buffalo (9-6) for the division lead and has already clinched a playoff berth. The Dolphins will clinch the division next week if they beat Baltimore; Miami and Buffalo will also play in the final week of the season.
  • South: Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Houston are tied at 8-7, but Jacksonville owns the head-to-head over Indianapolis and is ahead of Houston on tiebreakers despite the two splitting the series. The Jaguars will clinch the division if they win their last two games.
  • North: Baltimore (12-3) is currently ahead of Cleveland (10-5) for the division lead, and has already clinched a playoff spot. With a win next week against Miami, the Ravens will clinch the division.

AFC WILD CARD

  • Cleveland is currently in the first wild-card spot at 10-5, with two AFC games remaining on their schedule. The Browns will clinch a playoff spot with one more victory.
  • Buffalo is currently the second wild card at 9-6; the Bills can still win their division if they win out and the Dolphins lose next week against Miami.
  • Indianapolis is currently in the third wild-card spot at 8-7; the Colts can still win their division but would have to finish with a better record than Jacksonville, as they lost both head-to-head matchups against them. *The Colts are ahead of the Texans due to owning the head-to-head result against them, and are ahead of the Steelers due to also owning the head-to-head against them.
  • Houston (8-7), Pittsburgh (8-7), and Cincinnati (8-7) are each in the hunt and are mathematically still in play for a wild-card spot.*The Texans are ahead of the Steelers due to owning the head-to-head against them.*The Steelers are ahead of the Bengals due to sweeping them in the regular season.
  • Tennessee, New York, Los Angeles and New England have been eliminated from playoff contention

Does Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills deserve more RESPECT after resilient win vs. Chargers?

Does Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills deserve more RESPECT after resilient win vs. Chargers?

AFC NO. 1 SEED

  • Baltimore is currently in sole possession of the top seed at 12-3. The Ravens play Miami in Week 17 and have not/do not play Kansas City this season (therefore, tiebreakers would be used if the two finished at the top of the conference). The Ravens will clinch the top seed if they defeat the Dolphins next week.
  • Miami is currently the No. 2 seed at 11-4, and plays Baltimore in Week 17; the Dolphins will clinch the top seed if they win out.
  • Kansas City is currently the No. 3 seed at 9-6, and cannot obtain the No. 1 seed after Baltimore’s victory at San Francisco.

“The key was competitive greatness” — Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa

"The key was competitive greatness" — Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa

NFC DIVISION LEADERS

  • West: San Francisco (11-4) has clinched the division.
  • East: Philadelphia (11-4) currently has a half-game lead over the Cowboys and has already clinched a playoff spot regardless of whether it wins the division; the two split their head-to-head matchups and therefore tiebreakers would come into play if they finish with the same record.
  • South: Tampa Bay is at the top of the division at 8-7 and will close its season with two division games against New Orleans and Carolina; the Bucs will win the division if they win out.
  • North: Detroit (11-5) has clinched the division.

NFC WILD CARD

  • Dallas (11-5) has clinched a playoff berth and will at worst be a wild-card participant. (Dallas can still win the NFC East as mentioned above).
  • The Los Angeles Rams are currently the second wild-card participant at 8-7; their last two games are both against NFC opponents (New York, San Francisco).*The Rams are ahead of the Seahawks due to sweeping them in the regular season.
  • Seattle is currently the third wild-card participant at 8-7 and enters Week 17 with a one-game lead over Minnesota, Atlanta, Green Bay and New Orleans.
  • Minnesota (7-8), Atlanta (7-8), Green Bay (7-8), and New Orleans (7-8) are each in the hunt and are mathematically still in play for a wild-card spot.*The Vikings are ahead of the Packers and Falcons due to owning the head-to-head against each of them.*The Falcons are ahead of the Saints and Packers due to owning the head-to-head against them.*The Packers are ahead of the Saints due to owning the head-to-head against them.
  • Washington, Arizona, and Carolina have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins EDGE PAST Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins EDGE PAST Dak Prescott, Cowboys

NFC NO. 1 SEED

  • San Francisco is currently in sole possession of the top seed at 11-4, and owns head-to-head tiebreakers over Dallas (11-5) and Philadelphia (11-4).
  • Philadelphia is currently the No. 2 seed and would remain ahead of the Lions with a loss in Week 17 due to greater strength of victory (.479 to the Lions’ .436).
  • Detroit is currently the No. 3 seed, but does not play San Francisco or Philadelphia this season — so tiebreakers would be used if they each finished tied at the top of the conference

Tiebreakers (two clubs)

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory in all games.
  6. Strength of schedule in all games
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

Tiebreakers (three or more clubs)

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after one-or-more clubs are eliminated during any step, tiebreaker restarts at step 1 of two-club format. If three clubs remain tied after a fourth club is eliminated during any step, tiebreaker restarts at step 1 of three-club format.)

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory in all games.
  6. Strength of schedule in all games.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

*Above tiebreaker rules via NFL.com


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