NFL Week 16: Play-Off Scenarios That Could Materialise Over the Festive Period


We are approaching the business end of the NFL season, which means conversations surrounding potential play-off and elimination scenarios are starting to intensify.

With the 13-for-1 Eagles confirmed as the first franchise to secure a play-off berth after punching their postseason ticket with a win over the Giants two weeks ago, there is everything still to play for across both conferences.

In Week 15, they were joined by the 49ers who clinched their first NFC West title since 2012, as well as the Vikings, Cowboys, Bills and the Chiefs, who topped the AFC West for the seventh successive season.

As we approach the festive season, Week 16 sees games across both Christmas Eve and the day itself, and there is the potential for even greater cheer for a handful of teams should they manage to secure a play-off spot this gameweek.

We take a comprehensive look at the potential scenarios that could play out in Week 16, both in terms of play-off berths and eliminations.

Teams Already Confirmed for the Postseason


  • Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) – NFC East Leaders
  • San Francisco 49ers (10-4) – NFC West Winners
  • Dallas Cowboys (10-4) – First Wild Card
  • Minnesota Vikings (11-3) – NFC North Winners


  • Buffalo Bills (11-3) – AFC East Leaders
  • Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) – AFC West Winners

Franchises Out of Contention Already 

Heading into Week 16, there are five teams who have already had their elimination confirmed and mathematically won’t compete in the play-offs.

Eliminated Teams

Houston Texans (1-12-1)

❌Chicago Bears (3-11)

❌Denver Broncos (4-10)

❌Arizona Cardinals (4-10)

❌Los Angeles Rams (4-10)


Division Winner and Play-Off Scenarios in Week 16

Philadelphia Eagles

Despite clinching the first play-off spot in Week 14, the ever-imperious Philadelphia Eagles have been made to wait for the NFC East title with the Dallas Cowboys also enjoying a strong season having succumbed to just four defeats.

Remaining Games:

  • Week 16 – vs Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  • Week 17 – vs New Orleans (5-9)

Eagles can clinch the NFC East division title with a WIN or a TIE. 

Home advantage as well as NFC’s only first-round bye can be secured with a WIN or a TIE – if the latter occurs, they will also need Minnesota to lose or tie.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are in a good position to clinch a play-off spot in the AFC West, but will a whole host of other results to swing their way to confirm their postseason status in Week 16.

Remaining Games:

  • Week 16 – vs Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1)
  • Week 17 – vs Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

The Chargers can confirm a playoff berth should any of the following scenarios pan out this week:

  1. The Chargers WIN + Raiders lose or tie + Saints lose + Jets lose
  2. The Chargers WIN + Raiders lose or tie + Saints lose + Jets tie + Dolphins lose
  3. The Chargers WIN + Raiders lose or tie + Saints tie + Jets lose + Dolphins lose

Baltimore Ravens

Incredibly, Baltimore’s chances of securing a play-off berth rest on one of any 10 scenarios in Week 16.

Remaining Games:

  • Week 16 – vs. Atlanta Falcons (5-9)
  • Week 17 – vs Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8)
  • Week 18 – vs Cincinnati Bengals (10-4)

Baltimore clinches playoff berth should any of the following materialise:

  1. Ravens win + Dolphins lose or tie + Saints lose or tie
  2. Ravens win + Dolphins lose or tie + Jets lose or tie
  3. Ravens win + Saints lose or tie + Jets lose or tie
  4. Ravens tie + Saints lose + Jets lose
  5. Ravens tie + Saints lose + Dolphins lose + Chargers win
  6. Ravens tie + Saints lose + Dolphins lose + Jets tie
  7. Ravens tie+ Saints lose + Jets + Chargers win
  8. Ravens tie + Saints tie + Jets lose + Dolphins lose
  9. Ravens tie + Saints tie + Jets tie + Dolphins lose+ Chargers win
  10. Saints lose + Jets lose + Brown lose or tie + Raiders lose or tie + Titans lose or tie + Chargers win

Buffalo Bills

Super Bowl betting favourites the Bills have already made their way to the postseason as expected, but can clinch the AFC East in Week 16 against a sorry looking Chicago Bears.

Remaining Games: 

  • Week 16 –  vs Chicago Bears (3-11)
  • Week 17 – vs Cincinnati Bengals (10-4)
  • Week 18 – vs New England Patriots (7-7)

Buffalo can win the AFC East simply by WINNING or TYING against the Bears on Saturday, but their title can also be confirmed if the Dolphins lose or tie against Green Bay.

Cincinnati Bengals

Last year’s Super Bowl runners-up the Bengals have once again exemplified their championship potential, and can confirm their spot in the postseason in Week 16 with a relatively straightforward proposition.

Remaining Games: 

  • Week 16 – vs New England Patriots (7-7)
  • Week 17 – vs Buffalo Bills (11-3)
  • Week 18 – vs Baltimore Ravens (9-5)

Cincinnati confirm their play-off status if they WIN or TIE against the Patriots on Saturday, while a Jets loss or tie could also be enough.

New York Giants

Last but certainly not least, New York Giants can clinch their first play-off berth since 2016 this week, with three possible scenarios enough to see them through.

Remaining Games: 

  • Week 16 – vs Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
  • Week 18 – at Philadelphia Eagles (13-1)

The Giants face an incredibly tough match-up against the Vikings this week, and may be eyeing the Colts in Week 17 as the more likely route for play-off qualification. Nevertheless, there are three possible avenues they can take in Week 16.

  1. Giants win + Commanders lose + Lions lose
  2. Giants win + Commanders lose + Seahawks lose
  3. Giants win + Lions lose + Seahawks lose


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