NFL Playoffs 2021-22: Bracket Predictions, Odds for AFC and NFC Before Week 16

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIDecember 22, 2021

NFL Playoffs 2021-22: Bracket Predictions, Odds for AFC and NFC Before Week 16

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    Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press

    It took a day longer than initially expected, but Week 15 of the 2021 NFL season is now complete. On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Football Team and the Los Angeles Rams took down the Seattle Seahawks in a pair of games postponed due to COVID-19-related absences.

    Now, it's onto Week 16, and there are only three weeks of regular-season football to go. However, 13 of the 14 postseason berths are still up for grabs. The Green Bay Packers are the only team to have clinched a playoff spot. They did so by beating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and securing the NFC North title.

    Although no other team has clinched, there are quite a few getting close. And the NFL postseason landscape is starting to take shape entering the final stretch of the regular season.

    Here's a look at the current Super Bowl odds heading into Week 16, followed by breakdowns and predictions for the AFC and NFC playoff pictures.

Current Super Bowl Odds

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    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Green Bay Packers: +450 (bet $100 to win $450)

    Kansas City Chiefs: +450

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: +650

    New England Patriots: +900

    Los Angeles Rams: +1000

    Buffalo Bills: +1000

    Dallas Cowboys: +1200

    Indianapolis Colts: +1600

    Arizona Cardinals: +1800

    Tennessee Titans: +2500

    San Francisco 49ers: +3000

    Los Angeles Chargers: +3000

    Cincinnati Bengals: +3500

    Baltimore Ravens: +3500

    Philadelphia Eagles: +8000

    Minnesota Vikings: +8000

    Cleveland Browns: +10000

    New Orleans Saints: +10000

    Pittsburgh Steelers: +15000

    Seattle Seahawks: +20000

    Denver Broncos: +20000

    Miami Dolphins: +20000

    Las Vegas Raiders: +20000

    Washington Football Team: +20000

    Atlanta Falcons: +50000

    New York Giants: +100000

    Carolina Panthers: +100000

    Via DraftKings Sportsbook

AFC Playoff Picture, Predictions

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    Joshua Bessex/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (10-4)

    No. 2 New England Patriots (9-5) vs. No. 7 Buffalo Bills (8-6)

    No. 3 Tennessee Titans (9-5) vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)

    No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) vs. No. 5 Indianapolis Colts (8-6)

    In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (8-6), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1), Las Vegas Raiders (7-7), Miami Dolphins (7-7), Cleveland Browns (7-7), Denver Broncos (7-7)

        

    Predictions

    1. Kansas City

    2. Tennessee

    3. Buffalo

    4. Cincinnati

    5. New England

    6. Los Angeles

    7. Indianapolis

    In Week 15, the Bills got back on track with a win over the Panthers after they had lost four of their previous six games. It should also be the start of a push to the AFC East title for Buffalo.

    On Sunday, the Patriots are hosting the Bills with first place in the division on the line. Although New England won the previous meeting between the teams in Week 13, that was a game heavily impacted by the snowy conditions and frigid weather in Buffalo.

    If the Bills can avenge that loss to the Pats, they close out the regular season with matchups against the Falcons and the Jets, and they'd capture the AFC East title by winning out. So don't be surprised if Buffalo does just that and gets to host a game during the AFC Wild Card Round.

    Although all four AFC North teams are in the mix for the division title, the Bengals should fend off the other three to finish atop the division for the first time since 2015. They'll likely need to beat the Ravens on Sunday, though, something they've already done once this year.

    Cincinnati will be hosting Baltimore, and that will help it sweep the season series. The Bengals may lose to the Chiefs in Week 17, but that won't matter if they can bounce back and defeat the Browns in the regular-season finale.

    The Titans will hold off the Colts to win the AFC South title. Tennessee swept the season series between the two teams, so Indianapolis faces an uphill battle to the division crown. But both teams should get into the playoffs, with the Colts holding on for the No. 7 seed down the stretch.

    At the top, the Chiefs will be no match for the teams trying to overtake them for the No. 1 seed. Kansas City has won seven consecutive games entering Week 16, and it closes the regular season with winnable matchups against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Denver.

    So there won't be any major shakeups in the AFC, as the seven teams in playoff spots will be the same ones heading to the postseason after Week 18.

NFC Playoff Picture, Predictions

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 Green Bay Packers (11-3)

    No. 2 Dallas Cowboys (10-4) vs. No. 7 Minnesota Vikings (7-7)

    No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-4) vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (8-6)

    No. 4 Arizona Cardinals (10-4) vs. No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (10-4)

    In the hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), New Orleans Saints (7-7), Washington Football Team (6-8), Atlanta Falcons (6-8), Carolina Panthers (5-9), Seattle Seahawks (5-9), New York Giants (4-10)

         

    Predictions

    1. Green Bay

    2. Tampa Bay

    3. Dallas

    4. Arizona

    5. Los Angeles

    6. New Orleans

    7. San Francisco

    At the end of Week 13, the Saints were 5-7 and had lost five consecutive games. After notching back-to-back wins over the Jets and Buccaneers, New Orleans is now a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC, and it's trending in the right direction.

    The Saints have a challenging Week 16 matchup against the Dolphins, who have won six straight games. But if New Orleans can win that game, it will then face NFC South rivals Carolina and Atlanta in the final two weeks, which it should win.

    The prediction here is that the Saints will rely on their defense and their rushing attack (led by quarterback Taysom Hill and running back Alvin Kamara) to win out the rest of the regular season. In doing so, they'll not only reach the playoffs, but they'll jump the 49ers for the No. 6 seed.

    San Francisco will still hold on to reach the postseason, though, as it will win at least two of its final three games against the Titans, Texans and Rams. However, neither the 49ers nor Rams will topple the Cardinals in the NFC West, instead getting into the playoffs as wild-card teams.

    Arizona has lost two straight games and closes out the regular season against Indianapolis, Dallas and Seattle, so it has some difficult matchups ahead. However, the Cardinals are a talented team that should get back on track, and they'll do enough to hold on to the NFC West lead.

    The Buccaneers and Cowboys both head into Week 16 on the cusp of clinching their respective divisions, as they just need to win or have the second-place team lose. So it's highly likely that Tampa Bay and Dallas will become division champions on Sunday.

    However, the Bucs and Cowboys won't catch the Packers in the race for the No. 1 seed. Green Bay has won three straight games, and it closes out the regular season against Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit.

    It's possible the Packers will win out, but even if they don't, they should play well enough to become the only team in the NFC that gets a first-round bye in the postseason.

          

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