NFL Playoff Picture 2021-22 Week 17: Updated Standings, Matchups to Watch

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 28, 2021

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 25: Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Kyler Murray (1) hands off to Arizona Cardinals Running Back Chase Edmonds (2) during an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Arizona Cardinals on December 25, 2021 at State Farm Stadium, in Glendale AZ. (Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With only two weeks left in the 2021 NFL regular season, the playoff field is beginning to quickly fill up.

The Kansas City Chiefs are the only AFC to punch their ticket to the postseason, clinching a sixth straight AFC West title. In the NFC, though, only two spots are still up for grabs and the NFC West is the only division yet to be decided.

AFC Standings

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4); clinched AFC West 
  2. Tennessee Titans (10-5) 
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) 
  4. Buffalo Bills (9-6) 
  5. Indianapolis Colts (9-6) 
  6. New England Patriots (9-6) 
  7. Miami Dolphins (8-7)
  8. Baltimore Ravens (8-7) 
  9. Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) 
  10. Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) 
  11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) 
  12. Cleveland Browns (7-8)
  13. Denver Broncos (7-8) 
  14. New York Jets (4-11); eliminated 
  15. Houston Texans (4-11); eliminated 
  16. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13); eliminated

NFC Standings

  1. Green Bay Packers (12-3); clinched NFC North 
  2. Dallas Cowboys (11-4); clinched NFC East 
  3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4); clinched playoff spot 
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4); clinched NFC South 
  5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5); clinched playoff spot 
  6. San Francisco 49ers (8-7) 
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) 
  8. Minnesota Vikings (7-8) 
  9. Atlanta Falcons (7-8) 
  10. New Orleans Saints (7-8)
  11. Washington Football Team (6-9) 
  12. Carolina Panthers (5-10); eliminated 
  13. Chicago Bears (5-10); eliminated 
  14. Seattle Seahawks (5-10); eliminated 
  15. New York Giants (4-11); eliminated 
  16. Detroit Lions (2-12-1); eliminated

Projected Wild Card Round Matchups


No. 7 Baltimore Ravens at No. 2 Tennessee Titans

No. 6 New England Patriots at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals

No. 5 Indianapolis Colts vs. No. 4 Buffalo Bills


No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 2 Dallas Cowboys

No. 6 San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 Los Angeles Rams

No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Looking ahead to Week 17, Sunday could be a big litmus test for the Arizona Cardinals.

Following their 10-2 start, the Cardinals have dropped three straight games. For fans, it could be a case of history repeating itself after Arizona was 5-2 heading into its bye in 2020 before finishing at 8-8.

Qualifying for the playoffs doesn't feel as momentum when a team is playing as badly as the Cardinals are right now.

Vince Marotta @Vincemarotta

The Cardinals don’t look anything like a playoff team right about now.

A road win over the Dallas Cowboys could alleviate a lot of anxiety the fanbase is experiencing right now. Conversely, a defeat will only add to the concern.

Fans of the Baltimore Ravens are in a similar position, albeit without the safety of knowing their team is through to Wild Card Weekend regardless of what happens over the next two weeks.

The Ravens have dropped four in a row and at 8-7 sit a full game back of the Cincinnati Bengals while having lost the head-to-head tiebreaker. Baltimore watched Sunday as Joe Burrow shredded its secondary to the tune of 525 yards and four touchdowns.


Joe Burrow loves playing the Ravens 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/oLPCwyoFAj">pic.twitter.com/oLPCwyoFAj</a>

Head coach John Harbaugh was noncommittal about Lamar Jackson's status for practice this week, which isn't an encouraging sign for the 2019 MVP. Even if he plays, Jackson can only do so much to cover for a depleted defense.

DraftKings Sportsbook has Baltimore as a 3.5-point underdog at home to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 17. A loss Sunday and the Ravens could be in a very precarious position in the AFC wild-card race. Should they pull out the victory with a healthy Jackson under center, the perception around Harbaugh's squad could shift dramatically.

Neither the Washington Football Team nor the Denver Broncos has been mathematically eliminated from the postseason, but both face an uphill climb from here. If nothing else, they have a prime opportunity in Week 17 to play the role of spoiler.

The Broncos play the Los Angeles Chargers, who are probably still reeling from a 41-29 upset at the hands the Houston Texans. Washington hosts the seventh-place Philadelphia Eagles.

Falling to 8-8 would deal a significant blow to the Chargers, while an eighth loss for the Eagles would leave the final wild-card spot in the NFC wide open.

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