NFL Playoff Schedule 2022: AFC, NFC Bracket Details and Latest Picks
The 2021-22 NFL playoffs are nearly here. Only one gameweek remains in the regular season, and only three playoff spots are still available. After the next 16 games—two on Saturday, 14 on Sunday—the playoff field will be set.
There's some clarity to the playoff picture, as six of the eight divisions have been clinched. The Green Bay Packers also own the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC.
The AFC's race for the top seed is undecided, though, with four teams still in play. The AFC East and NFC West have yet to crown champions as well.
Which teams still have a chance? How might the postseason play out? What are the most important matchups of Week 18? Let's take a look.
Week 18 Schedule
Saturday, January 8
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Sunday, January 9
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Washington Football Team at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET on Fox
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET on CBS
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 4:25 p.m. ET on Fox
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills, 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders, 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC
Playoff Field and Week 18 Scenarios
Tennessee Titans 11-5 (Z)
Kansas City Chiefs 11-5 (Z)
Cincinnati Bengals 10-6 (Z)
Buffalo Bills 10-6 (X)
New England Patriots 10-6 (X)
Indianapolis Colts 9-7
Los Angeles Chargers 9-7
Las Vegas Raiders 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-7-1
The Tennessee Titans can clinch the top seed in the AFC with a win or losses by the Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots. Kansas City can claim the top spot with a win and a loss or tie by the Titans.
The Bengals and Patriots are in play for the AFC's No. 1 seed, though they need help. The Buffalo Bills can clinch the AFC East with a win or a Patriots loss. New England needs a win and a Bills loss—or losses by both teams.
In the AFC wild-card race, the Indianapolis Colts only need to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to get in. The Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, meanwhile, will face off in a win-and-in game to close out the regular season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are both still mathematically alive. However, they need a lot of help, including Jacksonville upsetting Indianapolis.
Green Bay Packers 13-3 (Z, Y)
Los Angeles Rams 12-4 (X)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12-4 (Z)
Dallas Cowboys 11-5 (Z)
Arizona Cardinals 11-5 (X)
San Francisco 49ers 9-7
Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 (X)
New Orleans Saints 8-8
With the No. 1 seed already decided, the Packers, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have little to play for in Week 18—though Dallas and Tampa are still fighting for seeding. The Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, though, are battling for the division.
A Rams win or a Cardinals loss would give the NFC West to Los Angeles. A Rams tie or a Cardinals tie would do the same. Arizona needs a win plus a Rams loss to take the division.
The Philadelphia Eagles are already in as the No. 6 or No. 7 seed. The San Francisco 49ers will be in as the No. 6 seed with a win, a tie or a loss by the New Orleans Saints. The Saints will be in as the No. 7 seed with a win over the Atlanta Falcons or a San Francisco loss.
*A full scenario breakdown can be found at NFL.com.
Key Matchups of Week 18 and Latest Super Bowl Odds
Obviously, the elimination games are going to be huge in Week 18. The Colts, Raiders, Chargers, 49ers and Saints all face virtual must-win scenarios. The Steelers-Ravens tilt will become important only if the Colts cannot take care of business against lowly Jacksonville, a team perhaps more interested in securing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft than playing spoiler.
There's a good chance that when the Raiders and Chargers take the field for the final game of the regular season, the winner will be headed to the postseason while the loser goes home. There is a scenario wherein a tie could send both teams to the playoffs, but that would also require a Colts loss.
It's extremely unlikely, though, that the Raiders and Chargers will simply kneel out the game if it happens.
"This game matters too much to too many people, and we want to play our best and be proud of the result one way or another," Chargers coach Brandon Staley told the Rich Eisen Show.
Colts-Jaguars, Chargers-Raiders, 49ers-Rams, Saints-Falcons and Steelers-Ravens are the critical games when it comes to the wild-card race.
Those following the AFC East will want to watch both the Bills-New York Jets contest and the Patriots' showdown with the Miami Dolphins. The Rams-49ers game and the matchup between Arizona and the Seattle Seahawks will decide the NFC West.
Games between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, Chiefs and Denver Broncos, Patriots and Dolphins and the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns will be key to the No. 1 seed in the AFC—though the Bengals still won't start quarterback Joe Burrow.
"Rest me this week and get my body back to where it needs to be so I can get back to full strength running around the way I need to be Week 1 of the playoffs," Burrow said Wednesday, per NFL Media's Chase Goodbread.
Cincinnati will also be without running back Joe Mixon, who has landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Latest Super Bowl Odds
Green Bay Packers 19-5
Kansas City Chiefs 5-1
Buffalo Bills 15-2
Los Angeles Rams 17-2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-1
Dallas Cowboys 11-1
Tennessee Titans 12-1
New England Patriots 16-1
Indianapolis Colts 18-1
Arizona Cardinals 20-1
Cincinnati Bengals 20-1
San Francisco 49ers 35-1
Los Angeles Chargers 40-1
Philadelphia Eagles 50-1
Las Vegas Raiders 100-1
New Orleans Saints 130-1
Pittsburgh Steelers 400-1
Baltimore Ravens 400-1
NFL Playoff Schedule and Predictions for Wild-Card Brackets
Wild Card Round
Saturday, January 15
4:35 p.m. ET: TBD
8:15 p.m. ET: TBD
Sunday, January 16
1:05 p.m. ET: TBD
4:40 p.m. ET: TBD
8:15 p.m. ET: TBD
Monday, January 17
8:15 p.m. ET: TBD on ESPN
Saturday, January 22
4:25 p.m. ET: TBD
8:15 p.m. ET: TBD
Sunday, January 23
3:05 p.m. ET: TBD
6:40 p.m. ET: TBD
Sunday, January 30
3:05 p.m. ET: AFC on CBS
6:40 p.m. ET: NFC on Fox
Super Bowl LVI
Sunday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Predictions for Wild Card Weekend
Bye: 1. Tennessee Titans
No. 7 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 6 Indianapolis Colts at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals
No. 5 New England Patriots at No. 4 Buffalo Bills
Bye: No. 1 Green Bay Packers
No. 7 New Orleans Saints at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams
No. 6 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 Dallas Cowboys
Predicted Super Bowl LVI Matchup
Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.