NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Patriots, Cowboys, Packers, Buccaneers in Week 15

NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets for Week 14

There were three teams with playoff-clinching scenarios in play for NFL teams in Week 14. None of the teams could capitalize on those opportunities.

As such, the 2021 NFL playoff race is still wide open, but things could change quickly in Week 15. There are now seven teams that have a chance to lock up playoff spots. Four division titles are potentially on the line, as the Titans, Packers, Buccaneers and Cowboys all have a chance to wrap things up — if a few other games break their way.

The Packers and Buccaneers have the simplest paths to clinching a postseason berth. They just have to win and they are in. The Titans may be in the same boat — pending the result of the Patriots-Colts game on Saturday night.

Overall, the AFC still seems a bit more wide-open than the NFC. Only two AFC teams have clinching scenarios in play this week after none did last week. One of those teams is the Patriots, and their path to earning a playoff spot this week is, well, complicated. So, we’re more likely to see the playoff picture become clearer in the NFC this week while chaos may still reign for another week in the AFC.

Here are all of the NFL playoff clinching scenarios for teams that can guarantee themselves a postseason berth in Week 14. And also, a complete look at the NFL playoff picture.

MORE: Explaining the NFL’s expanded playoffs

NFL playoff clinching scenarios for Week 15

New England Patriots (9-4)

Remaining games: at Colts, vs. Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Dolphins

New England clinches playoff berth with:

  1. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Browns loss AND Ravens loss AND Bengals loss AND Chiefs loss OR
  2. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Browns loss AND Ravens loss AND Broncos loss AND Chargers loss OR
  3. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Browns loss AND Steelers loss or tie AND Broncos loss or tie AND Chargers loss OR
  4. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Browns loss AND Ravens loss AND Steelers loss or tie AND Bengals loss OR
  5. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Browns loss AND Ravens loss AND Bengals loss AND Chargers loss OR
  6. Patriots win AND Dolphins loss or tie AND Ravens loss AND Chargers loss AND Raiders loss AND Bengals/Broncos tie

Tennessee Titans (9-4)

Remaining games: at Steelers, vs. 49ers, vs. Dolphins, at Texans

Tennessee clinches AFC South division title with:

  1. Titans win AND Colts loss

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Green Bay Packers (9-3)

Remaining games: at Ravens, vs. Browns, vs. Vikings, at Lions

Green Bay clinches NFC North division title with:

  1. Packers win or tie OR 
  2. Vikings loss or tie

Green Bay clinches playoff berth with:

  1. Saints loss or tie AND 49ers loss OR
  2. Saints loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  3. Saints loss or tie AND Rams loss AND 49ers tie OR
  4. 49ers loss AND Eagles/Washington tie
  5. Rams loss AND 49ers tie AND Eagles/Washington tie

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-3)

Remaining games: vs. Saints, at Panthers, at Jets, vs. Panthers

Tampa Bay clinches NFC South division title with:

  1. Buccaneers win or tie

Tampa Bay clinches playoff berth with:

  1. Vikings loss or tie AND 49ers loss OR
  2. Vikings loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  3. 49ers loss AND Eagles/Washington tie

​Arizona Cardinals (10-3)

Remaining games: at Lions, vs. Colts, at Cowboys, vs. Seahawks

Arizona clinches playoff berth with:

  1. Cardinals win or tie OR
  2. Saints loss or tie AND Vikings loss or tie OR
  3. Saints loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  4. Saints loss or tie AND Eagles loss AND Falcons loss or tie AND Packers win OR
  5. Saints loss or tie AND 49ers tie AND Rams loss OR
  6. Vikings loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  7. Vikings loss or tie AND 49ers loss OR
  8. 49ers loss AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  9. 49ers tie AND Rams loss AND Eagles/Washington tie

Dallas Cowboys (9-4)

Remaining games: at Giants, vs. Washington, vs. Cardinals, at Eagles

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:

  1. Cowboys win AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  2. Cowboys win AND Washington loss AND Cowboys clinch the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Eagles

Dallas clinches playoff berth with:

  1. Cowboys win AND Saints loss or tie OR
  2. Cowboys win AND 49ers loss OR
  3. Cowboys tie AND Vikings loss or tie AND Saints loss or tie AND Falcons loss or tie OR
  4. Vikings loss AND Falcons loss AND Saints loss AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  5. Vikings loss AND Falcons loss AND Saints loss AND Cowboys clinch strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Eagles

Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

Remaining games: vs. Seahawks, at Vikings, at Ravens, vs. 49ers

Rams clinch playoff berth with:

  1. Rams win AND Saints loss or tie AND Vikings loss or tie OR
  2. Rams win AND Saints loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  3. Rams win AND Vikings loss or tie AND Eagles/Washington tie OR
  4. Rams tie AND Vikings loss AND Saints loss AND Falcons loss or tie

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NFL playoff picture 2021

Seed Team Record Clinched
1. New England Patriots 9-4 N/a
2. Tennessee Titans 9-4 N/a
3. Kansas City Chiefs 9-4 N/a
4. Baltimore Ravens 8-5 N/a
5. Los Angeles Chargers 8-5 N/a
6. Indianapolis Colts 7-6 N/a
7. Buffalo Bills 7-6 N/a

In the hunt: Browns (7-6), Bengals (7-6), Broncos (7-6), Steelers (6-6-1), Raiders (6-7), Dolphins (6-7)

Seed Team Record Clinched
1. Green Bay Packers 10-3 N/a
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-3 N/a
3. Arizona Cardinals 10-3 N/a
4. Dallas Cowboys 9-4 N/a
5. Los Angeles Rams 9-4 N/a
6. San Francisco 49ers 7-6 N/a
7. Washington Football Team 6-7 N/a

In the hunt: Vikings (6-7), Eagles (6-7), Falcons (6-7), Saints (6-7), Panthers (5-8), Seahawks (5-8)





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.