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NFL playoff and elimination scenarios for Week 13

The stretch run to the playoffs is on in the NFL.
Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, meaning we have reached the part of the season where teams can start locking down playoff spots.
And unfortunately, some teams are on the cusp of elimination already.
Here are the playoff and elimination scenarios for Week 13 of the NFL season, along with information on each game involved. To keep things relatively simple, on the elimination side of things we are focusing purely on playoff elimination, not elimination from division titles or first-overall seeding.
(Because let’s face it, you can be pretty sure teams like the New York Jets are already eliminated from the first-overall seed in the AFC, even if there remains a mathematical possibility).
We will start in the NFC, which has the single playoff-clinching scenario.
NFC
Playoff-clinching scenarios
Philadelphia Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles enter Week 13 at 10-1, and as the only team that can clinch a post-season berth.
To do that, they’ll need to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game, and they will also need some help even if they get that done.
The cleanest path for the Eagles is a win against the 49ers, and a loss or tie from the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The Eagles can also get in with a win over San Francisco, and a Green Bay Packers loss or tie, coupled with a Detroit Lions loss. The Packers are hosting the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, while the Lions are visiting the New Orleans Saints.
Philadelphia can also get in with a tie against the 49ers, along two different paths. First, a tie between the Eagles and San Francisco would see Philadelphia clinch a spot if: The Packers lose or tie, the Rams lose to the Browns, and the Saints either lose or tie in their game against the Lions.
Or, if the Eagles tie the 49ers, the Eagles would still clinch a spot if: The Packers lose or tie to the Chiefs, the Rams lose to the Browns, and the Atlanta Falcons either lose or tie in their game with the New York Jets.
Elimination scenarios
And now, some bad news.
Carolina Panthers
A bad week in Carolina, with the firings of Frank Reich, Josh McCown, and Duce Staley, can get worse this weekend. The Panthers would be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals
Maybe go grab a bite to eat, or some water, and settle in. Because we might be here a while.
There are a number of ways the Arizona Cardinals, who travel east to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, can be eliminated from the playoffs. The cleanest path to elimination? A loss to the Steelers, coupled with a Seahawks win or tie against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football, and a Packers win or tie against Kansas City.
Arizona would also be eliminated with a loss to the Steelers, coupled with these combinations:
A Seahawks win or tie and a Rams win, OR
A Seahawks win or tie, a Falcons win, and a Buccaneers win or tie, OR
A Rams win and a Packers win or tie, OR
A Rams win, a Saints win, a Falcons win, and a Buccaneers win or tie, OR
A Rams win, a Saints tie, a Falcons win, and a Buccaneers win
There is even a scenario where the Cardinals tie the Steelers, and are still eliminated. Should that game end in a tie, a Seattle win, and a Green Bay win, would still eliminated Arizona.
AFC
Playoff-clinching scenarios
There are no AFC playoff-clinching scenarios
Elimination scenarios
As noted above, we are focusing on straight playoff elimination, and not on seeding. However, we should note that three teams — the Jets, the Titans, and the Chargers — can be mathematically eliminated from contention for the first-overall seed this week.
New England Patriots
Let’s cover all the bases here, since it might be the last time we talk about the Patriots this year. New England is eliminated from AFC East title contention with a loss or tie against the Chargers, or a Dolphins win or tie against the Washington Commanders.
Now, here is how the Patriots can be eliminated outright. The first step in all these combinations is a loss to the Chargers on Sunday. Pair that with:
A Steelers win or tie against Arizona, a Colts win or tie against Tennessee, and a Browns win or tie against the Rams, OR
A Steelers win or tie, a Colts win or tie, a Bengals win against Jacksonville, and a Houston win against Denver, OR
A Steelers win or tie, a Colts win, a Bengals tie, and a Houston win, OR
A Steelers win or tie, a Colts win, and a tie between Houston and Denver, OR
A Steelers win or tie, a Colts tie, a Bengals win or tie, and a Houston/Denver tie
So … yeah.

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