NFL game plans for seven must-win Week 18 matchups: Keys to victory for the Colts, 49ers, Chargers and other playoff hopefuls

Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season has finally arrived, and seven teams are still vying for the three remaining playoff berths. All seven will either clinch with a win or need a win to stay in the mix. For the Chargers, it's as simple as win and in (though a tie also would get it done). A victory also would clinch a playoff spot for the Colts, 49ers and Raiders, though those three teams also have paths to the postseason that involve a loss. And finally, the Saints, Steelers and Ravens need to win to have even a shot at the playoffs -- but all three also need some help elsewhere.

So how do the teams that need to win on Sunday get there? Let's run through game plan keys to victory -- one offensive and one defensive -- for all seven teams in must-win or nearly must-win situations in the final weekend of the regular season. We'll focus on personnel matchups, scheme advantages, coaching tendencies and what we see on the game tape. (We have a lot of head-to-head tape to work with, thanks to multiple division matchups.) Additionally, clinching scenarios are detailed below for each team, which are listed from best to worst chance to make the playoffs via ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI).

Here are the game-planning focal points for the seven teams still in the running for a playoff spot, starting with the Colts.

Jump to playoff contender:
BAL | IND | LV | LAC | NO | PIT | SF

What the Indianapolis Colts need to do to win at Jacksonville