NFL Week 18 playoff-clinching scenarios: No. 1 seed in the AFC still up for grabs


We are at the finish line of the 2021 regular season. As we step into Week 18, we do have a solid grasp of what the upcoming playoff picture is going to look like. In the NFC, we already have three division winners and the Green Bay Packers secured the No. 1 seed in the conference with a win in Week 17. Meanwhile, in the AFC there are also three division winners already crowned, but the top seed is still up for grabs along with a few other playoff spots. 

Below, you’ll find all the different permutations for how various teams sneak their way into the postseason and how a number of clubs in the AFC could find themselves with the No. 1 seed by the week’s end. 

Clinch playoff berth with:

BAL win + LAC loss + IND loss + MIA loss or tie

Week 18 opponent: Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

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Clinch AFC East division title with: 

BUF win ORNE loss ORBUF tie + NE tie

Week 18 opponent: Jets (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

Clinch AFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and home-field advantage with:

CIN win + TEN loss + KC loss + NE loss or tie ORCIN win + TEN loss + KC loss + BUF win

Week 18 opponent: at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX)

Clinch playoff berth with:

IND win or tie ORLAC loss + BAL-PIT tie ORLAC loss + PIT loss + MIA win

Week 18 opponent: at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

Clinch AFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and home-field advantage with:

KC win + TEN loss or tie ORKC tie + TEN loss

Week 18 opponent: at Broncos (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. on ESPN, ABC) 

Clinch playoff berth with:

LV win ORLV tie + IND loss ORIND loss + PIT loss or tie

Week 18 opponent: Chargers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC)

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) 

 Clinch playoff berth with:

LAC win or tie

Week 18 opponent: at Raiders (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. on NBC)

Clinch AFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and home-field advantage with:

NE win + BUF loss or tie + KC loss + TEN loss

Clinches AFC East division title with:

NE win + BUF loss or tie ORNE tie + BUF loss

Week 18 opponent: at Dolphins (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)

Clinch playoff berth with:

PIT win + IND loss + LV-LAC game does not end in a tie

Week 18 opponent: at Ravens (Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

Clinch AFC’s No. 1 seed, only first-round bye and home-field advantage with:

TEN win ORTEN tie + KC loss or tie ORKC loss + CIN loss or tie + NE loss or tie ORKC loss + CIN loss or tie + BUF win

Week 18 opponent: at Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS — stream on Paramount+)

Clinch NFC West division title with:

ARI win + LAR loss

Week 18 opponent: Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX)

Clinch NFC West division title with:

LAR win or tie ORARI loss or tie

Week 18 opponent: 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX)

Clinch playoff berth with:

NO win + SF loss

Week 18 opponent: at Falcons (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX)

San Francisco 49ers (9-7) 

Clinch playoff berth with:

SF win or tie ORNO loss or tie

Week 18 opponent: at Rams (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. on FOX)



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