Through the first 12 weeks of the NFL season, we still haven't seen a single team clinch a playoff berth, but that could change this week.
Heading into Week 13, only one team has a chance to punch its postseason ticket and that's the Philadelphia Eagles, who currently have the best record in the NFL. Although only one team can clinch a playoff spot this week, we could see up to three teams get eliminated from playoff contention.
The Cardinals, Panthers and Patriots could officially see their postseason hopes go down the drain this weekend. Of those three teams, the most surprising name on the list is definitely the Patriots. Bill Belichick is already on the hot seat and if the Patriots were to be the FIRST team to be eliminated from the playoff race, that would just give Robert Kraft more ammo to dump the six-time Super Bowl winner as his head coach.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the playoff scenarios heading into Week 13:
How Eagles can clinch a playoff berth
If the 10-1 Eagles want to be the first team to clinch a playoff spot, they need one of the following scenarios to happen:
- Eagles win over 49ers + Rams loss/tie vs. Browns
- Eagles win over 49ers + Packers loss/tie to Chiefs + Lions loss to Saints
- Eagles tie 49ers + Rams loss + Packers loss/tie + Falcons loss/tie to Jets
- Eagles tie 49ers + Rams loss + Packers loss/tie + Saints loss/tie to Lions
The easiest route for the Eagles is beating the 49ers combined with the Browns beating the Rams in Los Angeles.
How the Panthers can be eliminated from postseason contention
This one is pretty simple: If the Panthers lose to the Buccaneers on Sunday, they will be the first team eliminated from playoff contention.
How the Patriots can be eliminated from postseason contention
Belichick and the Patriots will see their playoff chances come to an end if any of the five following scenarios happen (via Joe Ferreira):
- Patriots loss to Chargers + Steelers win/tie vs. Cardinals + Colts win/tie vs. Titans + Browns win/tie vs. Rams
- Patriots loss + Steelers win/tie + Colts win/tie + Texans win over Broncos + Bengals win over Jaguars
- Patriots loss + Steelers win/tie + Colts win/tie + Bengals-Jaguars tie
- Patriots loss + Steelers win/tie + Colts win + Texans-Broncos tie
- Patriots loss + Steelers win/tie + Colts tie + Texans-Broncos tie + Bengals win/tie with Jaguars
Based on those options, it seems like the Patriots just might survive to fight for at least one more week.
How the Cardinals can be eliminated from postseason contention
Arizona can also be knocked out of postseason contention in Week 13 and there are actually nine scenarios that could cause that to happen:
- Cardinals loss to Steelers + Seahawks win/tie vs. Cowboys + Rams win vs. Browns
- Cardinals loss + Seahawks win/tie + Packers win/tie vs. Chiefs
- Cardinals loss + Seahawks win/tie + Falcons win vs. Jets + Buccaneers win/tie vs. Panthers
- Cardinals loss + Seahawks win/tie + Falcons-Jets tie + Buccaneers win
- Cardinals loss + Rams win vs. Browns + Packers win/tie
- Cardinals loss + Rams win vs. Browns + Falcons win + Buccaneers win + Saints win/tie vs. Lions
- Cardinals loss + Rams win vs. Browns + Falcons win + Buccaneers-Panthers tie + Saints win
- Cardinals loss + Rams win vs. Browns + Falcons-Jets tie + Buccaneers win + Saints win
- Cardinals tie + Seahawks win + Packers win
By the end of Week 13, we could see one of 14 playoff spots clinched and three of 32 teams knocked out of the playoff race.