NFL Playoff Schedule 2022: Bracket Dates and Updated AFC, NFC Scenarios

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2022

NFL Playoff Schedule 2022: Bracket Dates and Updated AFC, NFC Scenarios

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    The 2022 NFL playoffs are less than two weeks away from kicking off.

    It probably seems soon for most—or agonizingly long for backers of the league's bottom-feeders—but this 18-week schedule zipped right along, thanks in no small part to a playoff field that remains crowded into the final weekend.

    Three postseason spots are still unclaimed: two in the AFC, one in the NFC. After laying out the playoff schedule, we'll examine clinching scenarios in both conferences and sort through everything else that will be decided in Week 18.

Playoff Schedule

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    Wild Card Round

    Saturday, Jan. 15

    Games at 4:35 p.m. ET and 8:15 p.m. ET

                

    Sunday, Jan. 16

    Games at 1:05 p.m. ET, 4:40 p.m. ET and 8:15 p.m. ET

                   

    Monday, Jan. 17

    Game at 8:15 p.m. ET

                   

    Divisional Round

    Saturday, Jan. 22

    Game times TBD

                    

    Sunday, Jan. 23

    Game times TBD

                  

    Conference Championships

    Sunday, Jan. 30

    AFC Championship at 3:05 p.m. ET

    NFC Championship at 6:40 p.m. ET

                     

    Super Bowl

    Sunday, Feb. 13

    Game at 6:30 p.m. ET

AFC Scenarios for Week 18

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    The AFC's road to Super Bowl LVI runs through Nashville—for now, at least.

    The Titans control their own destiny, which is a remarkable feat for coach Mike Vrabel and this roster, considering so many left this club for dead when it lost Derrick Henry to a broken foot in Week 8. And yet, Tennessee can lock up the AFC's No. 1 seed with a win over the Houston Texans, losses by the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots or losses by the Chiefs and Bengals with a Buffalo Bills win.

    Oh, and there are rumblings of a possible Henry return. What a time to be a Titans fan.

    The Chiefs are still in the running for the top spot, but Joe Burrow outdueling Patrick Mahomes on Sunday means Kansas City needs help. The Chiefs need to top the Denver Broncos and have the Titans lose or tie. A tie plus a Titans loss would also get them the No. 1 spot.

    Speaking of the Bengals, AFC North champs for the first time since 2015, they're still technically in the chase for No. 1, too. If they can beat the Cleveland Browns next week, they get to No. 1 with losses by the Titans, Chiefs and Patriots or a Bills win and losses by the Titans and Chiefs.

    The Bills and Patriots both locked up playoff berths in Week 17, but they're still fighting for the AFC East crown with Buffalo having the upper hand. The final two playoff spots could go to five different teams—the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens—but the Colts, Chargers and Raiders (the latter two of whom play each other) all have win-and-you're-in paths.

NFC Scenarios for Week 18

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    The Green Bay Packers used a five-game winning streak to lock up the NFC's top seed for the second consecutive season. Aaron Rodgers, who might be running unopposed for MVP honors at this point, has put his fingerprints all over this stretch.

    He has 14 touchdowns and zero picks in the five games, not to mention an unfair 71.9 completion percentage. This is machine-like precision in every sense, and the Packers are the No. 1 seed for a reason.

    There isn't as much to sort out behind the Packers, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys both clinched division titles, and the Philadelphia Eagles punched their playoff ticket. The postseason-bound Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals are still fighting for the NFC West title, which the Rams could claim with a win over the San Francisco 49ers or a Cardinals loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

    Speaking of the 49ers, they're in the playoffs if they can topple the Rams in Week 18. If not, the New Orleans Saints could swipe that spot with a win over the Atlanta Falcons.

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