NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022: Reviewing Post-Week 17 AFC, NFC Picture, Bracket
Two AFC teams clinched division titles Sunday, and another two secured playoff berths. And while there will still be two spots up for grabs in Week 18, the AFC postseason picture is much clearer.
The Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals were both victorious in Week 17, clinching the AFC South and AFC North titles, respectively. The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots also won to secure playoff berths, although the teams are both alive in the AFC East title race.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a wild-card berth, leaving only one spot to be won in Week 18. The Green Bay Packers also secured the No. 1 seed in the conference with their Sunday night victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Here's a look at the NFL playoff bracket, along with the postseason picture for both conferences, with all but one game (Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers) of Week 17 complete.
Current NFL Playoff Bracket
Bye: No. 1 Tennessee Titans (11-5)
No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) vs. No. 6 Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
No. 4 Buffalo Bills (10-6) vs. No. 5 New England Patriots (10-6)
Bye: No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-3)
No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (12-4) vs. No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7)
No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys (11-5) vs. No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
AFC Playoff Picture, Scenarios
1. Tennessee Titans (11-5, clinched AFC South)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, clinched AFC West)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, clinched AFC North)
4. Buffalo Bills (10-6, clinched playoff berth)
5. New England Patriots (10-6, clinched playoff berth)
6. Indianapolis Colts (9-7)
7. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)
In the hunt: Las Vegas Raiders (9-7), Baltimore Ravens (8-8), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)
With the Tennessee Titans' win over the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs' loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, Tennessee is now in control in the battle for the No. 1 seed. It can clinch a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by beating the Houston Texans on the road in Week 18.
Kansas City can still end up as the No. 1 seed, but it will need to win on the road against the Denver Broncos and have Tennessee lose to Houston. Otherwise the Chiefs can still end up as the No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 seed.
The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots may have identical 10-6 records, but Buffalo is in control in the AFC East title race. It will win the division crown if it beats the New York Jets at home or if New England loses to the Miami Dolphins. The Pats need to win and have the Bills lose to capture the division title.
Although the Indianapolis Colts lost to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, they need only a win to clinch a playoff berth. And there's a good chance that they will get it in Week 18, when they go on the road to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Los Angeles Chargers can also clinch a wild-card berth with a victory in their final regular-season game. They are playing the Raiders, who are also still in the running for postseason spot. That will be an important matchup in Las Vegas, as the Raiders will also secure a playoff spot with a win.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers still have chances to end up in the playoffs, but they will need help to get there. It's possible that Pittsburgh won't be in the race once Week 18 begins, as it needs to beat the Cleveland Browns on Monday night to stay in the running.
In the wild-card race, the most likely scenario is that the Colts and the winner of the Chargers-Raiders contest will get the final two spots. But things could get more interesting if Indianapolis loses.
NFC Playoff Picture, Scenarios
1. Green Bay Packers (13-3, clinched No. 1 seed and NFC North)
2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4, clinched playoff berth)
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4, clinched NFC South)
4. Dallas Cowboys (11-5, clinched NFC East)
5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5, clinched playoff berth)
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-7, clinched playoff berth)
In the hunt: New Orleans Saints (8-8)
The Green Bay Packers have clinched the No. 1 seed, and it's a guarantee that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys will be hosting wild-card round matchups as division champions, meaning they will only be playing for seedings in Week 18.
The NFC West title will be up for grabs, as the Arizona Cardinals stayed alive by beating the Cowboys on Sunday. The Los Angeles Rams remain in control, though, and they will capture the division crown with a win over the San Francisco 49ers or an Arizona loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Cardinals will only become the NFC West champions if they beat the Seahawks and the Rams lose to the 49ers. Otherwise Arizona will be the No. 5 seed and go on the road to open the playoffs.
San Francisco is the only NFC team in a playoff spot that hasn't clinched a postseason berth. It can do so with a victory at Los Angeles in Week 18 or if the New Orleans Saints lose on the road against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints' only path to the playoffs is with a win over the Falcons and a 49ers loss to the Rams. That's possible, though, especially because Los Angeles is playing for a division title.
The Philadelphia Eagles won at Washington on Sunday, and they clinched a playoff berth when Green Bay defeated the Minnesota Vikings later in the night. The Eagles could move up to the No. 6 seed, but that's the only thing they will have to play for in their Week 18 matchup against the Cowboys.