Week 15 Playoff Scenarios: Pats, Broncos, Colts Can Clinch Divisions

The Patriots, Broncos, and Colts can all secure spots in the AFC playoffs this weekend.
The Patriots, Broncos, and Colts can all secure spots in the AFC playoffs this weekend. –Jim Davis/Globe Staff, Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports, Tony Dejak/AP

With just three weeks reamaining in the regular season, the NFL playoff picture is beginning to come into focus. Several teams – including the Patriots – can punch their ticket to the postseason with a win on Sunday, while others will need some help from outside in order to guarantee their season extends to January. Here’s a look at the playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 15:

Patriots

The Patriots can clinch the AFC East with a win or tie against the Dolphins. The Pats can also clinch a first-round bye with a couple different combinations:

1. A win AND a Colts loss AND a Steelers loss or tie AND a Bengals loss or tie

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2. A win AND a Colts loss AND a Steelers loss or tie AND a Broncos loss

Even if they lose to the Dolphins, the Pats can still punch their ticket to the playoffs a few ways, thought it requires quite a bit to go their way.

1. A Bills loss or tie AND a Bengals los AND a Steelers loss AND a Ravens loss AND a Texans loss or tie

2. A Bills loss or tie AND a Bengals los AND a Steelers loss AND a Chiefs loss or tie AND a Chargers loss

3. A Bills loss or tie AND a Texans loss or tie AND a Chiefs loss or tie AND a Chargers loss AND a Ravens loss

Broncos

The Patriots’ AFC rival Denver Broncos can also get into the playoffs this week, clinching the AFC West with a win or tie over the San Diego Chargers. Like the Patriots, they can clinch a first-round bye through a couple different scenarios:

1. A win AND a Colts loss AND a Bengals loss AND a Steelers loss or tie

2. A win AND a Colts loss AND a Bengals loss AND they clinch the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Steelers.

If the Broncos fall to the Chargers, they can’t clinch the division, but they can get into the playoffs in a few different ways:

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1. A Dolphins loss or tie AND a Texans loss or tie AND a Bengals loss AND a Steelers loss

2. A Dolphins loss or tie AND a Texans loss or tie AND a Ravens loss AND a Browns loss or tie

3. A Dolphins loss or tie AND a Texans loss or tie AND a Ravens loss AND a Steelers win

Colts

The Indianapolis Colts can clinch this week as well, taking the AFC South with a win or tie against the Houston Texans.

Cardinals

Over in the NFC, two teams can clinch playoff spots this week: The Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals already beat the St. Louis Rams on Thursday, so they can secure their place in the playoffs in one of these three scenarios:

1. Cowboys-Eagles doesn’t end in a tie

2. A Lions loss AND they clinch strength of victory tiebreaker over the Packers

3. A Lions loss AND a Packers win or tie

Packers

The Packers can get to the playoffs with a win AND a Cowboys loss AND if they clinch strength of victory tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

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