We've now made it through 12 weeks of the NFL season and somehow, we still haven't seen a single team clinch a playoff berth. There are a total of 14 spots in the postseason this year and as of right now, they're all still up for grabs. However, that could change this week and that's because there are three teams that could end up clinching a playoff spot by the end of Week 13.
Clinching scenarios for the Steelers
I'd say there's a pretty good chance the Steelers clinch a playoff spot this week and they could clinch before they even take the field against Washington on Monday. If the Raiders lose to the Jets, the Steelers are in. If the Colts lose to the Texans, the Steelers are in. If the Dolphins lose to the Bengals, the Steelers are in. Although all three of those teams are favored, the Steelers only need one upset out of the three to clinch a spot. Even if all three of those teams win, the Steelers can still clinch a playoff spot with a win over Washington, so it feels like they'll be getting in his week.
The Steelers can also clinch the AFC North title with a win, a Browns loss and by clinching the strength of victory tiebreaker over Cleveland.
Clinching scenarios for the Chiefs
- KC win OR
- KC tie + BAL loss or tie + IND loss OR
- KC tie + LV tie + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR
- KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + IND loss or tie OR
- KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR
- KC tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR
- LV loss + BAL loss + IND loss
Like the Steelers, all the Chiefs have to do to clinch a playoff berth this week is win. If Kansas City beats Denver on Sunday night, the Chiefs will be headed to the postseason for the sixth straight year under Andy Reid. If we ignore all the scenarios that involve a tie, the Chiefs can also get in with a loss, but that will only happen if the Raiders (at Jets), Ravens (vs. Cowboys) and Colts (at Texans) all lose, which seems highly unlikely, so Kansas City is going to need to punch its own ticket by winning.
The Chiefs can also clinch the AFC West title with a win PLUS a Raiders loss or tie. The Chiefs could also clinch with a tie as long as the Raiders also lose.
Clinching scenarios for the Saints
- NO win + CHI loss or tie OR
- NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + SF loss or tie OR
- NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie
There's only one team that can clinch in the NFC and that's New Orleans. For the Saints to get in, they need a win PLUS a Bears loss or tie. The Saints could also get in with a tie, but those scenarios are slightly complicated and let's be honest, the Saints and Falcons probably aren't going to tie this week. The Bears are playing the Lions on Sunday and they're favored to win, so clinching on Sunday won't be easy for the Saints.
If you're wondering about elimination scenarios, two teams could be knocked out of the playoff race this week. The Bengals, who are somehow still alive, will be knocked out with a loss to the Dolphins. The Chargers could also be knocked out if they lose to the Patriots AND the Colts beat the Texans. If the Colts lose, the Chargers would also be eliminated with a loss plus a win by both the Raiders (vs. Jets) and Dolphins (vs Bengals).
Through 12 weeks only two teams have been eliminated and those teams are the Jets and Jaguars.