2023 NFL playoffs: Ten of the most important remaining games that will shape the postseason

With Week 16 kicking off, the 2023 NFL playoffs are fast approaching. Half a dozen different teams can clinch playoff berths or division titles this weekend. But which specific matchups are most important to the postseason race in the coming weeks?

Here, we’ve identified 10 of the most critical contests with playoff implications:

Note: Playoff percentages are courtesy of SportsLine simulations, unless otherwise noted.

Week: 16 | Date: Saturday, Dec. 23 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

Dreaming of a Jake Browning Cinderella run? It basically comes down to this. A win against the reeling Steelers vaults Cincy from having a 43% chance of making the dance to nearly 66%, while a loss sends the Bengals all the way down to 18%.

Week: 16 | Date: Sunday, Dec. 24 | Time: 1 p.m. ET

Even after upsetting the Eagles in Week 15, Seattle isn’t a lock to make it as a wild card. But a win over Tennessee, which upset the Dolphins not long ago, catapults their postseason chances to 70%, while a defeat drops them to 35%.

Week: 16 | Date: Sunday, Dec. 24 | Time: 1 p.m. ET

The Joe Flacco-led Browns are well on their way to an improbable playoff run. But Houston is potentially on its last legs amid quarterback C.J. Stroud’s injury. An upset of Cleveland gives them an 80% chance of making it, but a loss drops them to 30%.

Week: 16 | Date: Sunday, Dec. 24 | Time: 1 p.m. ET

Atlanta is flailing as it changes QBs once again, but Indianapolis has a chance to gain even more ground in the crowded AFC wild card race with a win, which would elevate their playoff chances from 58.7% to 77%. A loss drops them to 38%.

Week: 16 | Date: Sunday, Dec. 24 | Time: 1 p.m. ET

Detroit can clinch the NFC North (and, thus, a playoff berth) with a win. The Vikings, meanwhile, need this even more; a win skyrockets their chances to 77% (up 25%), while a loss makes them a safe bet to miss the tournament entirely…


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