Sorting through NFL playoff scenarios

The Patriots, Falcons and a few others are in, but several other teams need to keep winning to advance to the postseason. Here's your guide to all the possibilities.

First off, we cannot take credit for the information that follows. If we had tried to do it ourselves, you can be sure our head would have spun off our shoulders like a top.

Sorting out the possible playoff scenarios is an exercise in futility, so the NFL is kind enough to do it for everyone who cares. Anyway, here's the current state of the playoff picture with one week (and one game, tonight's Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles contest) remaining:

NFC

These teams have clinched: Eagles (NFC East), Chicago Bears (NFC North), Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints.

Falcons: Can clinch the NFC South with a win or tie or a Saints loss or tie. Can clinch a first-round bye with a Saints loss or tie, a Bears loss or tie or a Saints loss or tie plus an Eagles loss or tie.

Bears: Can clinch a first-round bye with one Eagles loss or a Bears win or a Bears tie and an Eagles tie.

Eagles: Can clinch a first-round bye with two wins and a Bears loss or tie.

Saints: Can clinch the NFC South and home-field advantage with a win and a Falcons loss.

Green Bay Packers: Can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a tie plus a New York Giants loss or tie plus a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss or tie or a Giants loss and Bucs loss.

Giants: Can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Packers loss or tie or a tie plus a Packers loss plus a Bucs loss or tie.

Bucs: Can clinch a playoff spot with a win plus a Giants loss or tie plus a Packers loss or tie or a Bucs tie plus a Giants loss plus a Packers loss.

St. Louis Rams: Clinch the NFC West with a win or a tie.

Seattle Seahawks: Clinch the NFC West with a win.

AFC

These teams have clinched: New England Patriots (AFC East), Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West), Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers.

Steelers: Can clinch the NFC North and a first-round bye with a win or a tie and a Baltimore Ravens loss or a Ravens loss.

Ravens: Can clinch the NFC North and a first-round bye with a win and a Steelers loss or tie or a Ravens win and a Steelers loss.

Indianapolis Colts: Can clinch the AFC South with a win or a tie or a Jacksonville Jaguars loss or tie.

Jaguars: Can clinch the AFC South with a win and a Colts loss.

There you have it. If you can commit all of that to memory, you belong in the commissioner's office.

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