NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23: Wild-Card Picture, Postseason Bracket Post-Week 17

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2023

NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022-23: Wild-Card Picture, Postseason Bracket Post-Week 17

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates after a touchdown run by teammate AJ Dillon during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
    AP Photo/Mike Roemer

    There's just one week to go in the 2022 NFL season, and those responsible for making the league schedule are surely thrilled with how the playoff picture has shaken out.

    Multiple Week 18 games will have postseason implications, especially in tight wild-card races.

    In the AFC, the New England Patriots control the final wild-card spot, but the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans are still alive.

    In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will fight for the final wild-card spot.

    With the conclusion of the Steelers' Sunday Night Football matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, let's take a look at the seven teams from each conference that would advance to the playoffs if the season ended today.

    We'll also go through scenarios that could play out in Week 18, which teams control their future and which ones need help.

AFC Wild-Card Picture

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - JANUARY 1: Patrick Mahomes (15) of the Kansas City Chiefs breaks the pocket against the Denver Broncos during the third quarter of the Chiefs 27-24 win at GEHA at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, January 1, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
    AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

    AFC Standings

    1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3, clinched AFC West)

    2. Buffalo Bills (12-3, clinched AFC East)

    3. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4, clinched playoff berth)

    4. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

    5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6, clinched wild-card berth)

    6. Baltimore Ravens (10-6, clinched playoff berth)

    7. New England Patriots (8-8)

    On the Bubble

    Miami Dolphins (8-8)

    Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

    Tennessee Titans (7-9)


    Thanks to their 23-21 win over the Dolphins on Sunday, the Patriots are in the driver's seat when it comes to the AFC's final wild-card spot.

    Of course, it will be no small task: The Patriots need to defeat the Buffalo Bills on the road.

    The Steelers were also grateful for the Patriots' win, as they are improbably still alive in the wild-card race, though their percentage likelihood of making the postseason was down to 0.01 percent at one point this season.

    With a 16-13 win over Baltimore on Sunday Night Football, Pittsburgh stayed in playoff contention for another week. But the Steelers will need more help in Week 18: they need Buffalo to defeat New England and for the New York Jets to beat Miami to keep their playoff hopes alive. Pittsburgh will also have to win its own matchup against the Cleveland Browns.

    At the top of the standings, the Kansas City Chiefs, by virtue of beating the Denver Broncos, can wrest the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage from the Bills with a win in Week 18 and a Bills loss.

NFC Wild-Card Picture

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    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 01: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks on before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on January 01, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    NFC Standings

    1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3, clinched playoff berth)

    2. San Francisco 49ers (12-4, clinched NFC West)

    3. Minnesota Vikings (12-4, clinched NFC North)

    4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8, clinched NFC South)

    5. Dallas Cowboys (12-4, clinched playoff berth)

    6. New York Giants (9-6-1, clinched wild-card berth)

    7. Seattle Seahawks (8-8)

    On the Bubble

    8. Detroit Lions (8-8)

    9. Green Bay Packers (8-8)


    Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

    Week 18 NFC scenarios from <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLResearch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLResearch</a>. <a href="https://t.co/l5N1s1tc1V">pic.twitter.com/l5N1s1tc1V</a>

    Thanks to their late-season turnaround and 41-17 statement win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers have set up a win-and-you're-in game with the Lions next week for the last wild-card spot in the NFC.

    In improving to 8-8, the Packers also eliminated the Washington Commanders from playoff contention.

    Green Bay also controls the tiebreaker over Seattle, so even though the Seahawks sit in the No. 7 seed, the Packers clinch that final spot with a win.

    If Detroit beats Green Bay, it would still need Seattle to lose to the Los Angeles Rams next week. For the Seahawks to punch their ticket to the postseason, they need to defeat the Rams and for the Packers to lose to the Lions.

    At the top of the conference, the Philadelphia Eagles amazingly still haven't clinched the NFC East despite their 13-3 record, but they can do so in Week 18 with a win over the New York Giants or with a Dallas Cowboys loss to the Commanders.

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