Despite only two weeks and 32 games remaining in the 2019 NFL season, there are literally BILLIONS of playoff possibilities available depending on what happens in the remaining fortnight of the season. Billions! That might sound absurd, but consider there are four different ways the Cowboys and Eagles can get into the playoffs and within each of those possible outcomes exist many, many other outcomes for the various teams. 

Much of it involves seeding, and there are a lot of different ways the NFC, in particular, can shake out. Trust me, I know. I’m pretty sure I ran through all of them by utilizing various NFL playoff simulators to achieve the end result and try to figure out for you exactly where each team could land on the playoff spectrum and how they would get there. 

It is also entirely possible I missed something, so make sure and yell if I did on Twitter @WillBrinson. And while you’re at it, fire up our latest Pick Six Podcast — a daily NFL show, with up to eight shows per week! — where we break down each week’s action with a Sunday recap and give out picks against the spread every single week as well. 

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AFC Playoffs

Baltimore Ravens (12-2)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes 

Division winner? Yes

No. 1 AFC seed: The Ravens have a pretty simple path to the top seed in the AFC: win on Sunday against the Browns or beat the Steelers in Week 17. Baltimore is a 10-point favorite in Cleveland. The Ravens have a tiebreaker over New England with a head-to-head win, so the Patriots can’t catch a 13-win Ravens team. The Chiefs have a tiebreaker over the Ravens but can only get to 12 wins.

The Ravens can also clinch the top overall spot in Week 16 if a) the Ravens tie and the Patriots lose/tie OR b) the Chiefs lose/tie and the Patriots lose. The Chiefs (-6) play in Chicago on Sunday night and the Pats (-6.5) play at home against the Bills on Saturday. The Ravens could also theoretically tie both of their remaining two games and get the first overall seed no matter what.

No. 2 AFC seed: This is a pretty unlikely situation because the Ravens have the tiebreak over the Patriots and are up one game with two to play. However, Baltimore could go 0-2, with the Patriots going 2-0 and the Chiefs going 1-1 and end up with the No. 2 seed. Also, and even more unlikely, if Baltimore were to lose one of their remaining two games and TIE the other one AND if the Patriots were to win out, then the Pats (13-3) would finish above the Ravens (12-3-1) and take the top overall seed. 

No. 3 AFC seed: The Ravens can’t finish lower than No. 3, because the best the Texans can finish is 11-5. But if Baltimore were to lose out to the Browns and Steelers and the Patriots (Bills/Dolphins) and Chiefs (Bears/Chargers) were to win out, the Ravens would finish as the No. 3 seed in the AFC. That would be a shocking turn of events.

New England Patriots (11-3)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes

Division winner? No, clinch AFC East with a win or tie

No. 1 AFC seed: The Patriots cannot clinch the top seed in Week 16. It’s still alive for New England, although a Baltimore win would rule out any chance of it happening. To get the top spot, the Pats need the Ravens to lose.

No. 2 AFC seed: The Patriots can clinch a No. 2 seed this weekend if they win and the Chiefs lose/tie or if the Patriots tie and the Chiefs lose. New England desperately wants to lock down a bye. This is the most likely landing spot for the Patriots: if New England, Kansas City, Baltimore and Houston all win out, the Patriots would end up as the No. 2 seed. Tiebreakers would only come into play between the Pats and the Ravens. 

No. 3 AFC seed: The hellscape for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, because of how badly they want/need the first-round bye. If they lose once and the Chiefs win out, the Patriots would fall to the No. 3 seed by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker loss to Kansas City. The Patriots cannot finish with the No. 4 seed, because a single win would get them the division title and 12 wins, while the Texans max out at 11 wins. 

No. 5 AFC seed: The darkest timeline. If the Patriots were to lose out, it would mean they not only don’t get the first-round bye, but they wouldn’t even get a home game in the playoffs, because the Bills would win the division. New England simply needs to win one game to secure the AFC East, but dropping two straight to the Bills and Dolphins — if the Bills win out as well — would result in the Pats becoming the fifth seed. It would be something to behold.  

Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes

Division winner? Yes

No. 1 AFC seed: The Chiefs have the tiebreaker over BOTH the Ravens and the Patriots (but, somewhat oddly, not the Texans). This means Kansas City needs both the Ravens and the Patriots to lose out and the Chiefs need to win out in order to get the top overall seed and home-field advantage.

No. 2 seed: A much more likely outcome, the Chiefs need to win out and have the Patriots lose to either the Bills in Week 16 or the Dolphins in Week 17. The Chiefs would land the No. 2 spot and a first-round bye thanks to their head-to-head tiebreaker. 

No. 3 seed: The most likely outcome, given the various Vegas spreads for the six games involving the top three teams in the AFC. KC, New England, and Baltimore will all be favored in their final two games. If they all win those games, the Chiefs will land the third seed.

No. 4 seed: The lowest the Chiefs can finish as AFC West winners. Houston has a tiebreaker over KC, so if the Chiefs go 1-1 and the Texans win out, Kansas City would finish as the fourth seed. 

Houston Texans (9-5)

Clinched playoff spot? No

Division winner? No

No. 2 AFC seed: A first-round bye is still in play for the Texans but it’s a pretty huge long shot. Houston has to win out to get to 11-5. The Chiefs have to go to 1-1 to get to 11-5. The Patriots have to go 0-2 to get to 11-5. And the Bills have to go 1-1 to get to 11-5 as well. That would create a three-way tie for the second spot (Buffalo would be the fifth seed) and the Texans would have a head-to-head advantage over the Chiefs and Pats to get the second seed. 

No. 3 AFC seed: If the Pats win out, the Chiefs go 1-1 and the Texans win out, Houston would get the No. 3 seed by virtue of its head-to-head win over Kansas City. 

No. 4 AFC seed: If the Pats and Chiefs win out, the Texans can’t get any higher than the No. 4 seed. They haven’t won the AFC South yet, but they can do so this weekend by 1) beating the Buccaneers on Saturday, 2) tying the Bucs and having the Saints/Titans tie or 3) having the Titans lose to the Saints on Sunday. Any three of those scenarios would clinch no less than the fourth seed for Houston. If the Texans lose and the Titans win, Week 17’s game would be a divisional title game. 

No. 6 AFC seed: The Texans can actually sneak in as a wild card, if the Steelers lose one of their two remaining games. In this scenario, the Texans could beat the Buccaneers Saturday and lose to the Titans in Week 17. They would be 10-6 and the Steelers would finish 9-7 at best, which would put the Texans in as a wild card, while the Titans jumped up to the No. 4 seed.

Buffalo Bills (10-4)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes

Division winner? No 

No. 2 AFC seed: If the Bills beat the Patriots on Saturday in Week 16 and beat the Jets in Week 17 AND the Patriots lose to the Dolphins AND the Chiefs go 1-1 down the stretch, the Bills could land the second overall seed and a first-round bye which would greatly obscure the fact Buffalo won the AFC East, straight snatching it from the Pats. 

No. 3 AFC seed: The Bills have to win out and the Pats have to lose to the Dolphins. If that happens, the Bills would win the AFC East and finish above the Texans or Titans, regardless of who comes out of the AFC South. 

No. 5 AFC seed: Since winning out doesn’t guarantee the Bills a division title, this is probably their most likely landing spot. Beat the Patriots, win in Week 17 but watch the Pats beat the Dolphins at home and the Bills would land here. Even if the Titans and Texans both finish 10-6, the Bills would land here too, because of their head-to-head tiebreaker over the Titans.  

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6)

Clinched playoff spot? No

Division winner? No (Eliminated from division title)

No. 6 AFC seed: The Steelers currently hold the No. 6 seed and cannot get to No. 5 because the Bills would need to lose out to open it up for them and Buffalo has a head-to-head victory over the Steelers from last week. So the Steelers just need to hold on, basically. If they win out against the Jets and Ravens (who might be sitting their starters in Week 17), the Steelers would be the No. 6 seed. They have a tiebreaker over the Titans and a single win by the Texans clinches the AFC South for Houston. If Tennessee wins out and Pittsburgh wins out, the Steelers would still get in. 

Tennessee Titans (8-6)

Clinched playoff spot? No

Division winner? No

No. 3 AFC seed: A lot has to break here for this to happen, but if the Titans win out, the Texans lose out and the Chiefs lose out, all three would be 10-6. The Titans would get the No. 3 seed in the AFC based on their head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chiefs. 

No. 4 AFC seed: If the Titans win out and the Texans lose out, the Titans would win the AFC South and get the No. 4 seed. This is off the table if the Texans win on Saturday.

No. 6 AFC seed: This is a little dicey because it leans on strength of victory, which is a bit fluid and too complex for me to put into a simple paragraph form. The simpler method to get here is to have the Texans beat the Bucs, the Steelers lose once and the Titans win out. If that happens, Tennessee would be 10-6 and the sixth seed. The more complex version involves Tennessee losing once and the Steelers losing once and both end up at 9-7. Then their tiebreaker would come down to SOV (strength of victory), which is based on who they beat, except who the value of who they beat can change dramatically with two weeks left in the season. Stay tuned. 

Cleveland Browns (6-8)

Clinched playoff spot? No

Division winner? No (cannot win)

No. 6 AFC seed: The full breakdown of this scenario can be found in John Breech’s Annual Browns Have a Snowball’s Chance of Making the Playoffs post. Short version: the Browns win out, the Steelers lose out, the Titans lose out and the Colts win out. The key to all of this is the Colts, though, because they need to tie at 8-8 with the Titans in the division and eliminate the Titans from the tiebreaker scenario before the Titans face off against the Browns. 

Oakland Raiders (8-6)

Clinched playoff spot? No

Division winner? No (cannot win)

No. 6 AFC seed: Same scenario as above except the Raiders need to win out and the Browns need to lose at one game. The Colts would take the Titans by a tiebreaker and the Raiders would sneak into the postseason at 8-8.

NFC Playoffs

NOTE: The NFC is CRAZY fluid right now because multiple divisions are up for grabs still. There are multiple strength of victory tiebreaker scenarios that have people shifting all over the place. 

Seattle Seahawks (11-3)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes 

Division winner? No

No. 1 NFC seed: This is a pretty simple and yet convoluted situation for the Seahawks. There are four teams (Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Francisco) who are all 11-3. Seattle is the No. 1 seed right now because the Seahawks have the head-to-head tiebreaker with the 49ers for the division. The Seahawks and Packers eliminate the Saints in a three-way tiebreaker because of conference record. And the Seahawks have a two-game lead over the Packers based on common games record, so they win that tiebreaker. In other words, the Seahawks get the top overall seed if those four teams all have the same record or, obviously, if Seattle has the best record of those four teams (they win out, everyone else loses once, etc). There are a lot of ways you can get to this scenario. 

No. 2 NFC seed: A couple of different ways they can get here. If the Seahawks and 49ers both go 1-1, they would be 12-4 and the Seahawks would win the tiebreaker. The Seahawks have a tiebreaker over both the Saints (head-to-head) and Packers (common games) so if either of those teams finishes 13-3 and the other is 12-4, the Seahawks typically end up in a scenario where they win the tiebreaker and land the second overall seed. Think about it like this: if the 49ers lose to the Rams but beat the 49ers and only one of the Packers/Saints finishes 12-4, the Seahawks are your likely No. 2 seed. 

No. 3 NFC seed: The easy way to this outcome is similar to the one above, except in this case the Seahawks beat the Cardinals, the Rams beat the 49ers, the 49ers beat the Seahawks and both the Packers/Saints win out to get to 13-3. The 12-4 Seahawks would win the division and finish ahead of the Vikings (who lost to the Packers in this hypothetical). 

No. 5 NFC seed: Seattle can still lose the division, obviously. If the 49ers win Saturday against the Rams and beat the Seahawks, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed, assuming they win against the Cardinals this week. They hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings and if the Packers lost out they would be 11-5. If Seattle lost out and ended up in a tie with the Packers, they would still be the fifth seed because of a common games tiebreaker. Winning on Sunday against the Cardinals in Week 16 would guarantee Seattle 13 wins and no less than the fifth seed.  

No. 6 NFC seed: The Seahawks losing out, the Vikings winning out and the Packers beating the Lions in Week 17 would be a major nightmare because not only would the Seahawks lose the division, they would fall to the sixth seed and not draw a .500-ish NFC East division team on the road in the wild card game. 

Green Bay Packers (11-3)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes 

Division winner? No (can clinch in Week 16 with a win)

No. 1 NFC seed: I *believe* the only path for this happening is the Packers winning out and both of the Seahawks or 49ers getting to 12-4 (either by both losing in Week 16 or by one losing in Week 16 and that same team winning in Week 17, etc., however you want to get there). The Seahawks (common games) and 49ers (head-to-head) both have a tiebreak over Green Bay if either combo finishes 13-3. Obviously both the Seahawks and 49ers can’t finish 13-3 since they play each other in Week 17. The Packers hold a conference-games tiebreaker over the Saints.

No. 2 NFC seed: Very simple: win out and the Packers will probably end up with the No. 2 seed. Both the 49ers and Seahawks are more than a touchdown favorite at home in Week 16, so logic would dictate they win those games. The Packers have to beat the Vikings on the road on MNF and then beat the Lions in Week 17 and they are guaranteed a first-round bye. The Packers could also go 1-1 and have the Saints lose out to end up in the No. 2 spot.

No. 3 NFC seed: This may be the most likely projected outcome based on the spreads, as the Packers are 5.5 point dogs to the Vikings on Monday night. In this scenario, the Packers go 1-1 and at least one of the Seahawks/49ers wins in Week 16, with the Saints going no worse than 1-1 against the Titans (away) and Panthers (home). Don’t pour the concrete on this one yet because the Saints would beat the Packers on a strength of victory tie and there are too many games to be played to really calculate all the variables in paragraph form, but if those basic wins happen, this is likely.

No. 6 NFC seed: If the Packers lose out and the Vikings win out, the Vikings would win the NFC North. However, I don’t believe an 11-5 Packers team can secure the fifth seed because they would lose a tiebreaker to the Seahawks or 49ers with the same record, and those are the only two teams who could end up in the wild card battle with Green Bay because the Saints have clinched at least the third seed with a division title in hand. 

New Orleans Saints (11-3)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes 

Division winner? Yes

No. 1 NFC seed: Currently the No. 3 seed, the Saints need a little help to secure the top spot. They would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with both the 49ers and lose a conference games tiebreaker over the Packers but win a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks. So, the Saints are rooting for the Seahawks in Week 17. They are also rooting for the Vikings in Week 16. If New Orleans wins out and the Seahawks beat the 49ers in Week 17 and the Vikings beat the Packers in Week 16, the Saints will get home-field advantage throughout no matter what else happens. There would only be two 13-3 teams left and the Saints would edge out Seattle.

No. 2 NFC seed: If the 49ers OR Packers win out, the Saints are dormie for the top seed. For the Saints to secure the No. 2 seed, they to win out and have only either the 49ers or Packers finish at 13-3. They would lose a single tiebreaker but would get the second seed. As noted below, a 13-3 tie kills the Saints’ chances of winning a three-way tiebreaker. But a 12-4 three-way tie could end up working for the Saints. If all of the Seahawks/49ers, Packers, and Saints finish 1-1 down the stretch, New Orleans could lose the top seed to the 49ers and beat out the Packers for the second seed based on strength of victory (as always, somewhat fluid). 

No. 3 NFC seed: If the 49ers AND Packers win out, the Saints are dormie for the second seed. Additionally, if the Seahawks AND the Packers win out, the Saints would be the third seed. Basically, if any 13-3 three-way tie at the top of the conference occurs, the Saints can’t win it. They are big Minnesota fans on Monday night UNLESS the Packers lose to the Lions in Week 17 and the Vikings win out. Then the Vikings would actually beat out the Saints for the No. 2 seed. But the lowest New Orleans can drop is the No. 3 seed, because they have won their division and can’t be caught by Dallas/Philadelphia. 

Dallas Cowboys (7-7)

Clinched playoff spot? No 

Division winner? No (can clinch in Week 16 with a win)

No. 4 NFC seed: Nice to have an easy scenario on this side of the bracket. Sheesh. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles in Week 16, they are in as the NFC East champions, no matter what happens in Week 17. If the Cowboys lose to the Eagles in Week 16, they could still get in if they win in Week 17 against the Redskins and the Eagles lose against the Giants

San Francisco 49ers (11-3)

Clinched playoff spot? Yes 

Division winner? No (Week 17 against Seattle likely determines who wins, assuming both teams win in Week 16; there is a WEIRD 49ers lose/Seahawks win scenario in Week 16 and Seahawks win in Week 17 situation that will bring the strength of victory tiebreaker into play). 

No. 1 NFC seed: It was a very bad loss for the 49ers against the Falcons if they wanted to lock up the top seed. They’re still very much in the race though: the 49ers have a tiebreaker over the Saints (head-to-head), the Packers (head-to-head), so winning out means they will have the top seed in the NFC. They have to beat the Seahawks in Week 17 for this to be in play. There are scenarios where the 49ers lose in Week 16, beat the Seahawks in Week 17 and still get the No. 1 seed, but it involves the Saints and Packers both losing once. A three-way, 12-4 tie at the top of the conference would break towards the 49ers, as would a three-way tie at 13-3. 

No. 2 NFC seed: If the 49ers were to lose this weekend against the Rams and then beat the Seahawks, they could still get a bye without home-field advantage. In that scenario, one of the Packers or Saints would need to lose in Week 16 (or, less likely, Week 17). If both Green Bay and New Orleans win out and the 49ers lose against the Rams in Week 16, the best the 49ers could do is the third seed. They have to beat the Seahawks in Week 17 for this to be in play. 

No. 3 NFC seed: As noted above, if both the Packers and the Saints win out and the 49ers lose to the Rams but beat the Seahawks, San Francisco would finish as the third seed in the NFC, by virtue of being one game back of the other two teams. They have to beat the Seahawks in Week 17 for this to be in play. 

No. 5 NFC seed: If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks in Week 17, they cannot win the division. As such they would likely be relegated to a wild card spot. The fifth seed is most likely — if they go 1-1 in their final two games and lose to the Seahawks, the 49ers would probably hold the strength of victory tiebreaker over the Vikings, assuming Minnesota also goes 1-1 in its final two games.

No. 6 NFC seed: If the 49ers lose out and the Vikings win out, the 49ers would be the sixth seed and the Vikings would be the fifth seed.

Minnesota Vikings (10-4)

Clinched playoff spot? No (can with a win/tie in Week 16 OR Rams loss/tie in Week 16)

Division winner? No (cannot clinch in Week 16)

No. 1 NFC seed: This is still in play and it’s a completely insane scenario. Shoutout to friend of the program and GMFB co-host Peter Schrager for going full Russell Crowe and finding it. The Vikings have to win out. The Seahawks and 49ers have to both lose in Week 16. Then the Packers have to lose to the Lions in Week 17. Then the Saints have to lose to the Panthers in Week 17. And THEN the Seahawks and the 49ers have to TIE in Week 17 against each other, likely on Sunday night. This is pretty unlikely since Kyle Shanahan, who didn’t play for the tie against the Seahawks the first time, is DEFINITELY not playing for a tie this time since he wants to win the division. But it’s fun to theorize. 

No. 2 NFC seed: Also in play and a touch more realistic: the Vikings need to win out, need the Saints to lose to the Panthers in Week 17 and need the Packers to lose to the Lions in Week 17. If those three things happen, the Vikings would get the No. 2 seed, with whoever emerged on top of the NFC West getting the top seed. 

No. 3 NFC seed: Also in play and slightly more realistic: if the Vikings win out, the Saints win out and the Packers lose out, Minnesota would be the No. 3 seed. Essentially the Vikings can’t win the NFC North without the Packers losing both their remaining games because the Packers hold a big advantage in the division record tiebreaker. If Green Bay beats Detroit in Week 17, the Packers win the division, regardless of Monday night’s outcome. 

No. 5 NFC seed: If the Packers beat the Lions in Week 17, the Vikings will be relegated to a wild card spot. If the 49ers OR Seahawks lose out and the Vikings win out, the Vikings would be the No. 5 seed. 

No. 6 NFC seed: If San Francisco wins either one of its final two games, the 49ers would likely own a tiebreaker over the Vikings by virtue of the strength of victory tiebreaker (again, as always, a touch fluid). If the Seahawks fall to the wild card while going 1-1, they would have a tiebreaker over the Vikings by virtue of their head-to-head victory. Basically, if either Seattle or San Francisco win in Week 16 the Vikings will be relegated to the sixth seed or stealing the division from the Packers. 

Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

Clinched playoff spot? No (can with a win/tie in Week 16 OR Rams loss/tie in Week 16)

Division winner? No (cannot clinch in Week 16)

No. 6 NFC seed: The Rams are down to their final life on Saturday. If they beat the 49ers in Week 16 and beat the Cardinals in Week 17 to win out AND the Vikings lose to both the Packers and Bears to lose out, then the Rams would make the playoffs by virtue of their tiebreaker over the Vikings in conference games. 

Philadelphia Eagles (7-7)

Clinched playoff spot? No 

Division winner? No (cannot clinch in Week 16)

No. 4 NFC seed: The Eagles can only get in as a division winner and they can only get in if they win out — including against the Cowboys in Week 16 — or if the Cowboys lose out. If the beat Dallas this week and beat the Giants in Week 17, the Eagles are in as the NFC East champions. Otherwise, they are going home.