It didn’t seem likely just a few months ago but the 2020 NFL regular season is in its final quarter as most teams will have just four games to play after this weekend. For some (the Jets), the season ended long ago. For others, their hopes hinge on what happens in the next few weeks. However, for a very select few, they can punch their ticket to the playoffs (or a division title) with a win this Sunday.
In the AFC, Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs sit at 10-1 entering Week 13 and can clinch the AFC West with a win and a Raiders loss to the Jets OR a tie and a Raiders loss. However unlikely that is, a team losing to the Jets that is, the Chiefs can still secure their spot in the postseason with a win over the Denver Broncos. In addition, they can clinch with losses from the Raiders, Ravens, and Colts and through several scenarios in which they tie as listed below.
- Chiefs tie PLUS Ravens loss or tie AND Colts loss
- Chiefs tie PLUS Raiders tie, and Ravens lose or tie, AND Colts tie
- Chiefs tie PLUS Raiders tie, and Dolphins loss, Colts loss or tie
- Chiefs tie PLUS Raiders tie, and Dolphins loss, Ravens loss or tie
- Chiefs tie PLUS Dolphins loss, and Ravens loss or tie, AND Colts tie
Of course, the Chiefs will still be fighting for the top seed in the AFC and the only bye-week in the postseason. The team standing in their way? The Pittsburgh Steelers. At 11-0, the Steelers are in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the conference and can punch their ticket to the postseason this weekend as well. With the news of Bud Dupree’s season-ending surgery, life got a little harder for the Steelers defense. However, much like the Chiefs, the Steelers can lock up the AFC North with a win and a Cleveland Browns loss to the Titans. In addition, they can secure their playoff spot through the following scenarios:
- Steelers win or tie
- Raiders loss
- Dolphins loss or tie
- Colts loss or tie
Over in the NFC, the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints are the only team that can clinch a playoff spot this weekend. Unlike the Steelers and Chiefs, the division can not be clinched this week as the Buccaneers are still on their heels at 7-5. However, having swept Tampa this season and barring a total collapse, clinching the division is inevitable at this point. Here are the Saints playoff-clinching scenarios:
- Saints win and a Bears loss
- Saints tie, Bears loss, Vikings loss, and a 49ers loss or tie
- Saints tie, Bears loss, Vikings loss, and Cardinals loss or tie
The Saints have been able to withstand the loss of Drew Brees for the past two weeks, albeit against one team without a quarterback. With the Falcons coming off a big 46-6 win over the Raiders, a victory is no sure thing against their NFC South rival.