Pittsburgh Steelers fans know all too well what needs to happen on Christmas Day at Heinz Field when the Baltimore Ravens come to town for them to clinch a playoff spot. Plain and simple: Win and you win the AFC North, and clinch a playoff berth.
Simple enough, but what about the rest of the AFC Playoff Picture. What needs to take place for other teams to clinch a playoff spot, or seeding, this weekend?
Before we get into the scenarios, let’s look at the current AFC Playoff Picture:
AFC Playoff Picture (Week 15)
x - Clinched 1st round bye
z - Clinched Playoff Spot
In the hunt:
7. Baltimore Ravens - 8-6 - Remaining Games: at Steelers (9-5), at Bengals (5-8-1)
8. Tennessee Titans - 8-6 - Remaining Games: at Jaguars (2-12), vs. Texans (8-6)
9. Denver Broncos - 8-6 - Remaining Games: at Chiefs (10-4), vs. Raiders (11-3)
10. Indianapolis Colts - 7-7 - Remaining Games: at Raiders (11-3), vs. Jaguars (2-12)
11. Buffalo Bills - 7-7 - Remaining Games: vs. Dolphins (9-5), at Jets (4-9)
With that knowledge in hand, time to take a look at the scenarios entering Week 16:
New England Patriots
Clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the 4-10 Jets AND a Raiders loss/tie against the Colts OR
a tie against the Jets and a Raiders loss.
Clinch the AFC West title and a first-round bye with a win over the Colts AND a Chiefs loss/tie OR
a tie and a Chiefs loss.
Clinch the AFC South title by beating the Bengals (2-4-1 in their last seven games) AND a Titans tie/loss against the woeful, coach-less, 2-12 Jaguars.
Clinch the AFC North title by beating the Ravens at home. Baltimore already has a head-to-head victory in this matchup, but that was back in Maryland.
Kansas City Chiefs
Clinch a playoff spot with a win/tie against the Broncos, currently fighting for their postseason lives after going 2-4 in their last six games, OR
a Ravens loss/tie.
Clinch a playoff spot by beating the Buffalo Bills, who are potentially in the process of firing head coach Rex Ryan, AND and a Broncos loss/tie OR
a tie and a Ravens loss AND a Broncos loss AND a Texans loss/tie OR
a tie and a Ravens loss AND a Broncos loss AND a Titans loss/tie.