NFL Playoff Standings 2022: Team-by-Team Records and AFC, NFC Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2022

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Three playoff positions and two divisional titles will be on the line in the first-ever NFL Week 18. 

The majority of the drama will come from Sunday's games as the AFC East and NFC West will get decided in the afternoon's action.

At least one wild-card spot in the AFC and the final wild-card position in the NFC will also be determined in the two afternoon windows. 

The regular-season finale between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers will likely decide which team receives the last of the 14 playoff spots. 

Las Vegas and Los Angeles could both qualify for the postseason if the Indianapolis Colts are upset by the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is the result the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping for as well. The reality will most likely be a fight for one postseason spot in Las Vegas on Sunday night. 

The San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams clash is the one to watch in the NFC. The Rams need a win to lock up the NFC West, while the 49ers must win to secure a wild-card position. 

The full list of playoff scenarios for Week 18 can be found here on NFL.com.


AFC Playoff Picture

Division Leaders

1. Tennessee (11-5)

2. Kansas City (11-5)

3. Cincinnati (10-6)

4. Buffalo (10-6)

The permutations to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC are easy to understand. 

The Tennessee Titans need to beat the Houston Texans to secure the lone AFC first-round bye and home-field advantage. 

The Kansas City Chiefs must defeat the Denver Broncos and have the Texans upset the Titans to move back into the top spot. Andy Reid's team lost that position after its Week 17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, who are safely locked into the No. 3 seed. 

Cincinnati has an outside chance to land the No. 1 seed, but it needs the Titans and Chiefs to both lose and the Buffalo Bills to secure the AFC East title with a victory over the New York Jets. Cincinnati has the best conference record among the four division leaders and owns a head-to-head win over Kansas City. 

Buffalo's goal is to win the AFC East. The Bills should achieve that at home against the Jets. They would clinch the division title with a superior divisional record compared to the New England Patriots, who have an identical 10-6 record. 

New England is a long shot to earn the No. 1 seed. The Patriots need the Bills, Chiefs and Titans all to lose for that to be possible. If the Bills win, the Patriots will likely be the No. 5 seed. 


Wild-Card Race

5. New England (10-6)

6. Indianapolis (9-7)

7. Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

8. Las Vegas (9-7)

9. Pittsburgh (8-7-1)

10. Baltimore (8-8)

New England only has to worry about the AFC East race Sunday.

The Patriots are the only team in the wild-card race that has clinched a playoff berth. They face off with the Miami Dolphins, who were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 17. 

Miami has the same record as the Baltimore Ravens, and a loss by the AFC East side is needed for John Harbaugh's squad to get into the postseason among other factors. 

Baltimore has the largest playoff math equation of the AFC wild-card hopefuls. The Ravens need the Indianapolis Colts to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars combined with losses by the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami. The Ravens then need to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers to clear their path to a wild-card spot. 

Pittsburgh also needs to win the AFC North clash at M&T Bank Stadium and for the Colts to stumble in Jacksonville. The Steelers can get in with those two results and if the Chargers-Raiders game does not end in a tie. 

The two AFC West rivals will play to win on Sunday night, but there is a scenario in which a tie benefits both teams. The Chargers and Raiders can both qualify for the postseason with a tie combined with a Colts loss. 

All of those situations become irrelevant if the Colts end their five-game losing streak in Jacksonville during the early afternoon window. 

A Jaguars win makes the Chargers-Raiders clash a winner-takes-all matchup to close out the regular season.


NFC Playoff Picture

Division Leaders

1. Green Bay (13-3)

2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)

3. Tampa Bay (12-4)

4. Dallas (11-5)

The playoff math is much simpler in the NFC.

The Green Bay Packers locked up the No. 1 seed, first-round bye and home-field advantage with their Week 17 win over the Minnesota Vikings. 

The Los Angeles Rams will earn the No. 2 seed with a victory over the San Francisco 49ers or through an Arizona Cardinals defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. 

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will finish either second or third if they beat the Carolina Panthers. 

Mike McCarthy's Dallas Cowboys are most likely the No. 4 seed. The Cowboys are one game behind the Rams and Bucs. If Arizona wins the NFC West, the Bucs and Cardinals would finish ahead of Dallas thanks to head-to-head results. 


Wild-Card Race

5. Arizona (11-5)

6. San Francisco (9-7)

7. Philadelphia (9-7)

8. New Orleans (8-8)

Arizona and the Philadelphia Eagles already qualified for the postseason. 

The Cardinals can win the NFC West with a victory over Seattle along with a Rams loss to the 49ers. 

San Francisco holds the key to which teams will be the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds. The 49ers hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles. 

A 49ers win will secure the No. 6 seed and keep the Eagles at No. 7. A Rams victory combined with a Saints triumph over the Atlanta Falcons moves Philadelphia up to No. 6 on its head-to-head tiebreaker over New Orleans. 

San Francisco also gets into the postseason if it loses and New Orleans fails to win in Atlanta.