NFL clinching scenario for Week 16, explained: How the Browns, Chiefs, and Lions get in

Playoff spots can be secured in Week 16 of the 2023 NFL season. Here's how the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions can earn their spots.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season concluded with just three teams having clinched a playoff spot -- the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles. That means there are just four playoff spots remaining in the NFC, while six spots in the AFC remain wide open.

With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, a total of four spots can be filled. Three of those spots can be claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, and Detroit Lions. Here is how each team can clinch a playoff berth.

How the Cleveland Browns can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16

The Browns are 9-5 on the season despite consistent turnover at the quarterback position. Yet, the offense remains great despite the quarterback carousel, while boasting one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Without further ado, here's how the Browns can clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2020, per the NFL:

  1. Browns win and Bengals loss and Broncos loss or tie and Dolphins win or tie and Colts loss or tie
  2. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Bills loss and Dolphins win or tie and Broncos loss or tie
  3. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Bills loss and Dolphins win or tie and Jaguars loss and Colts win
  4. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Broncos loss or tie and Jaguars loss and Colts win
  5. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Bills loss and Chiefs win and Colts win and Jaguars loss
  6. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Broncos loss or tie and Dolphins win or tie and Colts loss
  7. Browns win and Steelers loss or tie and Broncos loss or tie and Dolphins win or tie and Jaguars loss
  8. Browns win and Bengals-Steelers tie and Colts win and Jaguars loss

So there are eight different scenarios for Cleveland to clinch a spot in the playoffs, and they all rely on them beating the Houston Texans on Sunday. But they will need some results to fall in their favor to ensure they can clinch a berth.

How the Kansas City Chiefs can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16

The 2023 season has not gone as smoothly for the Chiefs as in the past. The team is 9-5 on the year but lost three of five games in their return from a Week 10 bye. But on Sunday, they can clinch a spot in the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season. Not just that, but they can win the AFC West for the eighth straight season. This is all they need to happen.

  1. Chiefs win
  2. Chiefs tie and Broncos lose

It's simple enough for the Chiefs, beat the Las Vegas Raiders and the division title is once again theirs. Kansas City can also clinch if they tie against the Raiders and the Denver Broncos lose to the New England Patriots.

How the Detroit Lions can clinch a playoff spot in Week 16

The Lions missed out on a chance to clinch their playoff berth on Monday night after the Eagles lost to the Seattle Seahawks. But, they can do so in Week 16. Here's how.

  1. Rams loss or tie
  2. Seahawks loss or tie

To clinch a berth, the Lions just need the Los Angeles Rams to lose or tie the New Orleans Saints and for the Tennessee Titans to win or tie the Seahawks.

Most importantly, the Lions have the chance to make history, and that's win the NFC North title for the first time ever. They can do so with this simple scenario:

  • Lions win or tie vs. Vikings

That's all it will take for Detroit to bring home their first NFC North championship iin their franchise's history.

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