The second-to-last week of the 2022 NFL regular season is here, and it's going to be a battle to determine which teams clinch the remaining AFC and NFC playoff spots.
The Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts finished Week 16 with a matchup at Lucas Oil Stadium, and Brandon Staley's squad improved to 9-6 with a 20-3 win.
With the playoff picture becoming clearer following L.A.'s playoff-clinching win on Monday Night Football, here's a look at the updated AFC and NFC standings ahead of the upcoming Week 17 matchups.
- Buffalo Bills, 12-3: Clinched AFC East (Tiebreaker over KC on head-to-head)
- Kansas City Chiefs, 12-3: Clinched AFC West
- Cincinnati Bengals, 11-4: Clinched Playoffs
- Jacksonville Jaguars, 7-8: In the hunt:—First in AFC South (Tiebreaker over TEN on head-to-head)
- Baltimore Ravens, 10-5: Clinched Playoffs
- Los Angeles Chargers, 9-6: Clinched Playoffs
- Miami Dolphins, 8-7: In the hunt—Second in AFC East
- New England Patriots, 7-8: In the hunt—Third in AFC East (Tiebreaker over NYJ on head-to-head and TEN/PIT on conference record)
- New York Jets, 7-8: In the hunt—Fourth in AFC East (Tiebreaker over TEN on common games and PIT on conference record))
- Tennessee Titans, 7-8: In the hunt—Second in AFC South (Tiebreaker over PIT on conference record)
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 7-8: In the hunt—Third in AFC North
- Las Vegas Raiders, 6-9: In the hunt—Third in AFC West (Tiebreaker over CLE on conference record)
- Cleveland Browns, 6-9: Eliminated
- Indianapolis Colts, 4-10-1: Eliminated
- Denver Broncos, 4-11: Eliminated
- Houston Texans, 2-12-1: Eliminated
- Philadelphia Eagles, 13-2: Clinched Playoffs
- Minnesota Vikings, 12-3: Clinched NFC North
- San Francisco 49ers, 11-4: Clinched NFC West
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-8: In the hunt—First in NFC South
- Dallas Cowboys, 11-4: Clinched Playoffs
- New York Giants: 8-6-1: In the hunt—Third in NFC East
- Washington Commanders, 7-7-1: In the hunt—Fourth in NFC East
- Seattle Seahawks, 7-8: In the hunt—Second in NFC West (Tiebreaker over DET on head-to-head)
- Detroit Lions, 7-8: In the hunt—Second in NFC North (Tiebreaker over GB on head-to-head)
- Green Bay Packers, 7-8: In the hunt: Third in NFC North
- Carolina Panthers, 6-9: In the hunt—Second in NFC South (Tiebreaker over NO on head-to-head)
- New Orleans Saints, 6-9: In the hunt—Third in NFC South
- Los Angeles Rams, 5-10: Eliminated
- Atlanta Falcons, 5-10: Eliminated
- Arizona Cardinals, 4-11: Eliminated
- Chicago Bears, 3-12: Eliminated
Now that the Chargers have secured a playoff berth, it seems more likely that the AFC bubble teams in the hunt for a playoff spot will be battling for the No. 7 seed.
The Dolphins, Patriots and Jets will be the most intriguing teams to watch in Week 17, given the playoff implications. All three teams have struggled in recent weeks, though the Dolphins may have the upper hand on their AFC East rivals.
New England has lost four of their last five games and will host Miami this week. Additionally, the Fins defeated Bill Belichick's squad 20-7 earlier this season, and the Pats haven't beaten Miami since September 2020.
Even though the Dolphins could be without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this weekend after he entered concussion protocol, it's reasonable to believe they can still beat New England with backup Teddy Bridgewater.
The Patriots have become one of the most poorly coached teams in the NFL this year, and that has shown in recent weeks—Just look at the last play of their 30-24 loss to the Raiders on Dec. 18.
That could play a role in Sunday's game against Miami, and it could end up being a significant factor if it misses the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
The Dolphins will close out the season with a home game against the Jets, which have lost their last four games and will face the Seattle Seahawks this weekend.
New York has also benched starting quarterback Zach Wilson, who has been abysmal this season, in favor of Mike White and Chris Streveler, which isn't a good sign for the team's stability now and in the future.
Of the three AFC East teams, the Jets probably have the worst chance to make the postseason. The Patriots could just sneak into the playoffs if they win their final two games against the Dolphins and Bills, but if they lose to Miami, they'll be eliminated.
Elsewhere, the Jaguars and Titans are battling for first place in the AFC South, and Jacksonville has an easier schedule remaining, matching up against the Texans on Sunday before meeting Tennessee to end the regular season.
The Titans, meanwhile, will face the Cowboys on Thursday. If they lose that game, the winner of the AFC South could come down to the final game of the regular season, though the Jags already beat the Titans once this season.
For the NFC, the Buccaneers and the NFC South race will be the most intriguing to watch. Tom Brady's Bucs currently sit atop the division with a 7-8 record, but the Panthers (6-9) and Saints (6-9) could still claim the top spot.
Tampa Bay will meet Carolina on Sunday for the first time since Oct. 23, when it lost 21-3. It will then face the 5-10 Falcons, which it defeated 21-15 on Oct. 9, to close out the regular season.
With Brady at the helm of the offense, it makes sense to believe the Bucs will stay on top of the division. However, the seven-time Super Bowl champion has struggled this season, and Tampa Bay is nowhere near as dominant as it once was.
After meeting the Bucs this weekend, the Panthers will close out the regular season against the Saints.
New Orleans might have the worst odds to make the postseason, as it will meet the Eagles, who are looking to lock down the NFC East and the conference's top seed, on Sunday. However, the division race could come down to the final week of the season.