NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23: Wildcard Picture, Postseason Bracket Post-Week 16

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVDecember 26, 2022

NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23: Wildcard Picture, Postseason Bracket Post-Week 16

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    Aaron Jones
    Aaron JonesEric Espada/Getty Images

    Although it's been a tough season overall for the Green Bay Packers, they couldn't have handpicked a better set of results in Week 16 to stay in the NFL playoff race.

    Green Bay inched ever-closer in the NFC wild-card picture, defeating the Miami Dolphins on the road Sunday afternoon. The defense snagged three consecutive interceptions to seal the victory for the Packers, who remain part of a seven-team chase for two postseason bids.

    Ahead is a summary of the current playoff situation following a Christmas Day slate that was capped off by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeating the Arizona Cardinals 19-16 in overtime.

AFC Playoff Standings

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    Tua Tagovailoa
    Tua TagovailoaEric Espada/Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Buffalo Bills (12-3; clinched AFC East)
    2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-3; clinched AFC West)
    3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4; leading AFC North)
    4. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8; leading AFC South)

    Wild-Card Picture

    5. Baltimore Ravens (10-5)
    6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
    7. Miami Dolphins (8-7)

    8. New England Patriots (7-8)
    9. New York Jets (7-8)
    10. Tennessee Titans (7-8)
    11. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)
    12. Las Vegas Raiders (6-9)

    Thanks to a 17-9 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens locked up a playoff spot in Week 16. Baltimore will be making its fourth postseason trip in the last five seasons.

    Behind the Ravens, though, the conversation is muddled.

    Sunday, the Miami Dolphins took another step backward. They coughed up a 20-10 lead against the Green Bay Packers and fell 26-20, losing a fourth straight game. Miami dipped a half-game behind the Los Angeles Chargers, who also own the tiebreaker on the Dolphins.

    Los Angeles closes the slate Monday night opposite the Indianapolis Colts. If the Chargers win, they'll take a commanding edge for the AFC's second wild-card spot.

    New England and New York take on Miami during the next two weeks, so the Dolphins have both an opportunity to sprint away from the competition and a risk of sliding entirely out of the playoff race.

NFC Playoff Standings

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    Dak Prescott
    Dak PrescottMatthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Division Leaders

    1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-2; leading NFC East)
    2. Minnesota Vikings (12-3; clinched NFC North)
    3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4; clinched NFC West)
    4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-8; leading NFC South)

    Wild-Card Picture

    5. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
    6. New York Giants (8-6-1)
    7. Washington Commanders (7-7-1)

    8. Seattle Seahawks (7-8)
    9. Detroit Lions (7-8)
    10. Green Bay Packers (7-8)
    11. Carolina Panthers (6-9)
    12. New Orleans Saints (6-9)

    Similar to the AFC, the NFC's foremost wild-card team has sealed a playoff bid. After a 40-34 victory over the Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys improved to 11-4 and will be no worse than the No. 5 seed.

    To win the NFC East, Dallas would need a 2-0 finish and for Philly to lose its next two games. That's all unlikely, though it's still possible.

    The remainder of the NFC picture is becoming a mess. Each of the New York Giants, Washington Commanders, Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks lost on Saturday. That quartet of setbacks gifted the Green Bay Packers a huge chance to trim their deficit on Sunday, and the Packers took advantage with a comeback win.

    More clarity is expected in Week 17, naturally, but the wild-card standings are a lovely disaster right now.

Current Postseason Bracket

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    Josh Allen
    Josh AllenQuinn Harris/Getty Images

    AFC Bracket

    Bye: Buffalo Bills

    No. 7 Miami Dolphins at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs

    No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals

    No. 5 Baltimore Ravens at No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars

    Week 17 features a massive game for AFC seeding. Monday night, the Bengals host the Bills—who already hold the head-to-head tiebreaker on Kansas City—in a battle for home-field advantage. Cincinnati must win to have a shot at landing the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

    Additionally, the Jaguars are guaranteed a chance at winning the AFC South. No matter what happens next weekend, they'll need to defeat the Tennessee Titans in Week 18.

    Cincinnati could clinch the AFC North with a victory and a Baltimore loss next weekend. But if that doesn't happen, the Bengals and Ravens will square off in Week 18 with a division crown at stake.

    NFC Bracket

    Bye: Philadelphia Eagles

    No. 7 Washington Commanders at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings

    No. 6 New York Giants at No. 3 San Francisco 49ers

    No. 5 Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Philadelphia needs either a single win or a Minnesota loss during the next two weekends to land the NFC's top seed.

    Minnesota and San Francisco have both earned a division title, but their seeding is still in question. Although the Niners would own the tiebreaker on the Vikings if they finish with an even record, Minnesota currently holds a one-game edge in the overall standings.

    Whichever franchise wins the bumbling NFC South will be the No. 4 seed, and Tampa ends Week 16 with a one-game lead over Carolina and New Orleans. The Buccaneers can clinch the division with a win over the Panthers next week.