NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23: Wild Card Picture, Postseason Bracket After Saturday

Adam WellsDecember 24, 2022

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 24: Tyler Huntley #2 of the Baltimore Ravens in the huddle with teammates during the first quarter of the game against the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

After Saturday's slate of Week 16 games, the 2022 NFL playoff picture is coming into more focus with eight teams in the dance.

Seven of the 14 playoff spots were already locked up coming into this weekend. The Buffalo Bills joined the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers as division champions thanks to their 35-13 victory over the Chicago Bears.

The Dallas Cowboys kept their slim hopes alive for the NFC East and No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs with a thrilling 40-34 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Philadelphia would have locked up the top seed and the division title with a win. Instead, the Eagles will have to wait at least seven days to end the race for regular-season supremacy in the NFC.

The Baltimore Ravens are the only new team that clinched a postseason berth on Saturday thanks to their 17-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, combined with losses by the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

Here's what the current postseason matchups look like after Saturday's games.

NFC Playoff Matchups

No. 1 seed and first-round bye: Philadelphia Eagles (13-2)

No. 7 Washington Commanders (7-7-1) vs. No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (12-3)

No. 6 New York Giants (8-6-1) vs. No. 3 San Francisco 49ers (11-4)

No. 5 Dallas Cowboys (11-4) vs. No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)

In the hunt: Seattle Seahawks (7-8), Detroit Lions (7-8), Green Bay Packers (6-8), Carolina Panthers (6-9), New Orleans Saints (6-9)

AFC Playoff Matchups

No. 1 seed and first-round bye: Buffalo Bills (12-3)

No. 7 Miami Dolphins (8-6) vs. No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (12-3)

No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) vs. No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (11-4)

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (10-5) vs. No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8)

In the hunt: New England Patriots (7-8), New York Jets (7-8), Tennessee Titans (7-8), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8), Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)

Italics indicates team has clinched postseason berth

The big change in the AFC playoff race was the Jacksonville Jaguars moving into first place in the AFC South. Their 19-3 victory over the Jets on Thursday combined with the Tennessee Titans' 19-14 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday shifted the balance of power in the division.

Since a 27-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 17 improved their record to 7-3, the Titans have lost five consecutive games. They gained only 272 total yards, and they were outscored 9-0 in the fourth quarter against the Texans.

Things won't get any easier in Tennessee, with the Dallas Cowboys coming to Nissan Stadium on Thursday. The Jaguars will go for their fourth consecutive win on Jan. 1 against the Texans.

The Titans-Jaguars game in Jacksonville in Week 18 will determine the winner of the AFC South, regardless of the result for either club next week.

The Giants missed an opportunity to clinch by losing to the Minnesota Vikings. They came into the day needing a win and at least two of the Seahawks, Lions and Commanders to lose.

The Vikings, as has been the case all season, found a way to win in the most unpredictable way possible. After their 33-point comeback last week, they got a 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph as time expired to beat New York.


GREG JOSEPH 61-YARD FIELD GOAL FOR THE WIN! <a href="https://twitter.com/Vikings?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VIKINGS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYGvsMIN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYGvsMIN</a> <a href="https://t.co/a7JwsbirRX">pic.twitter.com/a7JwsbirRX</a>

Minnesota is now 11-0 in games decided by eight points or fewer this season.

The Los Angeles Chargers, who don't play until Monday night, got a lot of help with losses by the Jets on Thursday and Patriots on Saturday.

The Chargers have a win-and-in scenario this week if they defeat the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Losses by the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions give the Giants and Washington Commanders some breathing room for the NFC's last two spots.

Washington's tie with the Giants in Week 13 remains a huge difference-maker in the playoff race. Despite a 37-20 loss to the 49ers on Saturday, the Commanders remain in the No. 7 spot with a 7-7-1 record.

The Seahawks (7-8) are fading fast after being one of the best stories in the NFL. They have lost five of their last six games, though it's hard to fault them for Saturday's defeat against a Kansas City Chiefs team that is one of the best in the NFL.

Despite their recent struggles, the Seahawks are only the first team out right now thanks to their head-to-head victory over the Lions. Seattle has favorable matchups with the Jets and Los Angeles Rams to close the season.

Washington's season comes down to matchups against the Cleveland Browns and Cowboys. If the Cowboys get locked into the No. 5 seed after next week, they could potentially rest their starters in Week 18 to give the Commanders a better shot at winning the rivalry game.

Detroit's defense crashed back down to earth after allowing 18 points per game in the past three weeks. The Carolina Panthers racked up 570 yards, including 320 on the ground, in a 37-23 victory.

Despite their 6-9 record, the Panthers can come out of this weekend tied for first place in the NFC South if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.