NFL Playoff Scenarios: Seahawks Still Need Atlanta Loss to Carolina

By Jason Lisk

Here are the playoff scenarios after the conclusion of the early Sunday afternoon games on Christmas Eve.

[UPDATE: all later week 16 results have now been added]


New England still has not clinched a bye or the #1 seed. They clinched a bye with the Jaguars loss. They do clinch #1 seed by beating Jets next week, or with a Steelers loss.

Pittsburgh also clinched a bye with Jacksonville’s loss. Need to win and have New England lose to Jets next week to get #1 seed.

Jacksonville clinched AFC South with Titans loss, and are locked into the #3 seed after the loss to San Francisco.

Kansas City clinched AFC West with the win over Miami and are locked into the #4 seed.


Rather than write numerous words, I’m attaching this chart, which shows who gets in based on the results of the Baltimore-Cincinnati, Buffalo-Miami, Jacksonville-Tennessee, and LA-Oakland games next week. Titans win tiebreakers based on conference record, while Buffalo could win a tiebreaker over Baltimore that would go to strength of victory at 9-7.

Baltimore is in good shape, and is definitely in with a win. Tennessee is also in with a win. Things get interesting if either of those teams lose.


Philadelphia clinched the #1 overall seed.

Minnesota has not clinched a bye. The only scenario where they don’t get a bye is losing to the Bears, Carolina beating the Falcons, the Saints losing to the Bucs, and the Rams losing as well.

New Orleans and Carolina are both alive to win the NFC South. Saints win it with a victory. Carolina can win the South with a win over Atlanta and a Saints loss. Both have clinched playoff spots and the runner-up will be the #5 seed.

Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West with the victory over the Titans. They cannot get a bye but can be #3 seed if they are at 12-4 along with a Saints team that won the NFC South.

Atlanta wins all tiebreakers, so they get the final NFC wildcard spot by beating the Panthers. They also clinch it if Seattle loses.

Detroit was eliminated with their loss to Cincinnati.

Dallas was eliminated with their loss to Seattle.

Seattle needs to win in week 17 and have Atlanta lose to get the #6 seed.