NFL Playoff Picture, Clinching Scenarios for Week 18 in AFC, NFC
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With the NFL playoff picture is becoming increasingly clear as we head into Week 18, here are the NFL playoff clinching scenarios you need to know.
The cancelation of the Bills vs. Bengals game has raised the stakes for Week 18.
Let’s take a look at the NFL playoff picture and clinching scenarios for the last week of the regular season.
Standings and matchups as of Sunday at 4:10 p.m. ET.
* indicates clinched playoff spot.
No. 1: Chiefs*
No. 1: Eagles*
Teams That Have Already Clinched a Playoff Berth
Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)
The Chiefs have clinched the AFC West and the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Kansas City will host a game in the Divisional Round, and it will host the AFC Championship Game against any team except the Bills. If Buffalo makes it, that game will be played at a neutral site.
Buffalo Bills (13-3)
The Bills have clinched the AFC East but were surpassed by the Chiefs for the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Bills are in a difficult situation with the cancelation of their Week 17 game. Had they won, they’d be sitting atop the standings.
Now, the Bills will need to beat the Patriots and have the Chiefs lose to the Raiders to secure the No. 1 seed.
However, the NFL adjusted its rules to give the Bills an opportunity for a neutral site AFC Championship game in the event the Chiefs beat them out for the No. 1 seed due to the Bills not playing the game last week.
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
The Bengals have clinched the AFC North despite the cancelation of their game last week.
Cincinnati is no longer in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but, due to the NFL rule changes, they could still have a neutral site AFC Championship game if both the Bills and Chiefs lose this week.
Despite securing the division, the Bengals could still play a road game in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose to the Ravens this week and are set to play the Ravens in the Wild Card Round, there will be a coin toss to determine home-field advantage.
Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
The Ravens have clinched the playoffs and are no longer in contention for the AFC North.
But the Ravens could still earn a home game in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. If they beat the Bengals this week and matchup with them in the first round of the playoffs, there will be a coin toss to determine home-field advantage.
Los Angeles Chargers (10-7)
The Chargers have clinched the playoffs and have locked in a Wild Card spot. The only way they get the No. 5 seed is with a win over the Broncos and a Ravens loss to the Bengals.
Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
The Jaguars won the AFC South and will be the No. 4 seed in the AFC.
Miami Dolphins (9-8)
Thanks to the Patriots loss to the Bills and a victory against the Jets, the Dolphins claimed the final playoff position in the AFC
Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
The Eagles have clinched the playoffs and are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Philadelphia can clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC (home-field throughout and first-round bye) with a win in Week 18.
Otherwise, they need Dallas and San Francisco to lose.
San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
San Francisco will win the NFC’s No. 1 seed with a win over the Cardinals and an Eagles loss.
Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
The Vikings have clinched the NFC North. They could be the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a win over the Bears and a 49ers loss to the Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
The Cowboys have clinched the playoffs and sit in fifth place in the NFC, but they’re still in the running for the No. 1 seed.
Dallas can clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed if they beat the Commanders in Week 18 and the Eagles and 49ers both lose. If Philadelphia wins, the Cowboys will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
The Buccaneers clinched the NFC South by beating the Panthers in Week 17. They will be the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
New York Giants (9-6-1)
The Giants clinched a playoff berth with a blowout win over the Colts in Week 17. They will be the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Teams Not Eliminated & Clinching Scenarios
New England Patriots (8-9)
It’s now simple for New England: Beat the Bills in Week 18, and they’re in as the last AFC wild-card team.
Miami Dolphins (9-8)
The Dolphins will make the playoffs with a win over the Jets and a Patriots loss to the Bills.
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8)
The Steelers are in third in the AFC North but still have a shot at making the playoffs.
Their situation is complicated, but Pittsburgh need to win next week and have the Dolphins lose to the Jets and the Bills to beat the Patriots in Week 18.
Seattle Seahawks (9-8)
The Seahawks can only make the playoffs if the Lions beat the Packers and they beat the Rams in Week 18. If the Packers beat the Lions, the Packers are in.
Detroit Lions (9-8)
The Lions sit eighth in the NFC. Detroit can clinch a playoff spot in Week 18 by beating Green Bay at Lambeau Field and having the Seahawks lose to the Rams.
Green Bay Packers (8-9)
The Packers are third in the NFC North and are on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
The Packers clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Lions in Week 18.