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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Official clinching scenarios

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

The National Football League put out its official list of anything that can be clinched (division titles, top seeds or simply playoff berths) in this weekend’s games.

The only thing the New Orleans Saints can clinch is the NFC South title in Week 16. It’s a pretty simple formula. The Saints are division champions if they win or tie against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night.

If the Falcons win, they’ll remain in contention for the division title, but they’ll need some help in Week 17. For now, all the Falcons can do is clinch a spot in the playoffs, which would give them three postseason berths in the past four years.

Atlanta can get in several different ways. The most basic is for them to win or tie against New Orleans. The Falcons actually could be in the playoffs even before the Monday night game because there are two other clinching scenarios that would get them into the postseason.

One would be a Dallas loss or tie, plus a Chicago loss or tie, plus an Arizona loss or tie. The other scenario would require a loss or tie by the New York Giants, plus a loss or tie by Chicago and a loss or tie by Arizona.