It’s hard to believe we only have just two weeks left in the regular season. That means we have plenty of playoff-clinching scenarios throughout the league, including a division-clinching scenario for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Thanks to the great work over at NFL Playoff Scenarios, we have the full set of scenarios for both clinching and eliminations for each team in the AFC North in Week 17.
Here’s a full rundown of all the scenarios for each team in the AFC North, who can clinch and how any eliminations can happen.
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals have the simplest scenario in Week 17. Beat the Chiefs and they win the AFC North. They can also clinch if they tie the Chiefs and the Ravens lose or tie against the Rams. Or, a Browns/Steelers tie and a Ravens loss will do the trick also. If the Bengals do not clinch in Week 17, they can still clinch in Week 18 with a win over the Browns. The Bengals cannot be eliminated in Week 17. They are also the only team in the division that can clinch a playoff spot and the only team that cannot potentially be eliminated in Week 17.
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The Ravens are right in the mix for a wild card spot, tied with the Dolphins, Chargers and Raiders for the final spot. They are still in the mix for the division, but a loss or a Bengals win ends all hope in the AFC North.
There is also a chance that Baltimore can be eliminated. The simplest scenario that would eliminate the Ravens would be if they lose to the Rams and the Raiders (at Indianapolis), Chargers (vs Denver) and Dolphins (at Tennessee) all win. Baltimore lost to the Raiders and Dolphins this season and are currently behind the Chargers in conference record, so they are in pretty bad shape in terms of tiebreakers. They did beat the Chargers in Week 6, but unless it’s only those two tied, Baltimore could be in trouble. It’s also sort of working against Baltimore that the Raiders and Chargers meet in Week 18.
There are other various scenarios involving ties as well as some of the other 8-7 teams losing and then strength of victory coming into play. For example, the Ravens would be done if they lose, Vegas and Los Angeles lose, Miami and Buffalo both win, the Giants win and 1.5 or combined wins among the Packers, Seahawks and Bengals. It’s quite complex and we’d be here all day dissecting them all. But the easiest one is a Ravens loss plus wins by the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins would end Baltimore’s season.
(AP Photo/Matt Durisko)
The Steelers host the Browns on Monday night. The loser is out of the running in the AFC North. Depending on Sunday’s results, a loss Monday would also knock Pittsburgh out entirely. If just one of Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles or Las Vegas win on Sunday, then the Steelers would be out with a loss on Monday. There’s actually even a scenario that would eliminate Pittsburgh on Sunday, but it’s quite the parlay. That scenario is a Bengals win/tie + a Chargers win + a Raiders tie + a Bills win + a Dolphins loss + a Patriots win/tie.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
At 7-8, the Browns have the easiest scenario to explain. Win or go home. Okay, so that’s not the only scenario for the Browns. Like the Steelers, the Browns can be eliminated before even taking the field on Monday. In regards to the division, if the Bengals win, then obviously the Browns, along with the Ravens and Steelers, are out of the division race. In terms of the playoffs as a whole, a Bengals win/tie coupled with either a Dolphins win or a Chargers win/tie would knock Cleveland out for good. But if those scenarios don’t pan out Sunday, Cleveland would be alive heading into Monday. This basically means Monday’s Pittsburgh-Cleveland showdown is a playoff game.
So while it was fun watching the AFC North play itself out and have all four teams alive heading into Week 17, there is a chance, albeit probably a very small one, that three teams will be dealt a knockout blow in Week 17 and only the Bengals will remain standing.