NFL Playoffs 2022: Predictions for AFC, NFC Bracket and SeedsJanuary 7, 2022
NFL Playoffs 2022: Predictions for AFC, NFC Bracket and Seeds
Divisional rivals stand in the way of NFL franchises with aspirations to either clinch playoff spots or earn the highest possible seeds in the AFC and NFC standings.
Certain divisional foes will be tougher on the teams at the top, but the Los Angeles Rams face the biggest challenge of them all.
Sean McVay's team needs to defeat the San Francisco 49ers to clinch the NFC West title. If not, it must hope the Seattle Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals to keep a home playoff game.
However, the 49ers are heading into the Week 18 showdown in need of a victory to secure the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
The Indianapolis Colts have a dubious statistic in front of them as they try to secure the No. 6 spot in the AFC: They have not defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars away from Lucas Oil Stadium since 2014.
Jacksonville will have the most fans across the NFL on Sunday since the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will all stay alive if the Jaguars beat the Colts.
However, a loss on Sunday would allow the Jags to hold the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft for the second consecutive season.
AFC Playoff Predictions
2. Kansas City
5. New England
7. Los Angeles
The AFC South plays an important role in the conference seeding picture.
The Tennessee Titans need to beat the Houston Texans to lock up the No. 1 spot, the lone first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Tennessee lost to the Texans in Week 11, but it has looked much better in the four games since its Week 13 bye. The Titans are 3-1 in that stretch and have conceded only 20 points in their last three victories.
Mike Vrabel's team should contain Houston's offense to avoid a second upset and finish on top of the AFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs will put pressure on the Titans with a win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Patrick Mahomes and Co. lost the No. 1 seed after falling to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.
Denver has nothing to play for, as it is not in the playoff hunt or competition for a high draft pick.
The Bengals could drop from No. 3 to No. 4 since they will not have their best players on the field against the Cleveland Browns.
Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon are among the Bengals players who are sitting out for multiple reasons. Cleveland is going to Case Keenum at quarterback, but it has a fair chance to win against Cincinnati's second-team offense.
A Cincinnati loss would open the door for the Buffalo Bills to avoid the New England Patriots in the Wild Card Round. Buffalo needs to finish with a better record than the Bengals to earn the No. 3 seed.
New England should beat the already-eliminated Miami Dolphins, but it needs a Buffalo loss against the New York Jets to have upward progress in the standings.
Indianapolis has a great opportunity to break its drought away from home versus Jacksonville to land the No. 6 seed. The Colts are 6-2 in their last eight games and should run all over the Jaguars defense. Jacksonville gave up 116 rushing yards to Jonathan Taylor in Week 10 and lost four of its last five games by double figures.
An Indianapolis win makes the regular-season finale between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers a battle for the final wild-card position.
Los Angeles beat the Raiders by two touchdowns in Week 4 and has an impressive track record in AFC West play. The Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs and took them to overtime, and they are coming off a 34-13 win over the Broncos.
Las Vegas deserves credit for just getting to this spot, but its defense may not be able to contain Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams over four quarters.
NFC Playoff Predictions
1. Green Bay
2. Los Angeles
3. Tampa Bay
7. San Francisco
The swing game in the NFC playoff race takes place at Sofi Stadium.
The Los Angeles Rams need to win to lock up the No. 2 seed in the NFC and the NFC West title, while the San Francisco 49ers must win to clinch a playoff berth.
San Francisco dominated the Rams at Levi's Stadium in Week 10, but the Niners have not looked great in their last three road games. Kyle Shanahan's team lost to the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans and needed overtime to beat the Cincinnati Bengals away from Levi's Stadium.
San Francisco's playoff hopes may not be doomed with a loss in Los Angeles. That requires an Atlanta Falcons win over the New Orleans Saints.
Atlanta defeated the Saints at the Superdome in Week 9, and quarterback Matt Ryan has the most touchdown passes against New Orleans than any other franchise in the NFL.
The Falcons will be motivated to spring an upset over the Saints to end their season on a high note and create momentum into the second year of the Arthur Smith era.
New Orleans has scored 30 points in the last three weeks and could face a ton of trouble if the Falcons force it into a high-scoring game.
If the Saints lose, the 49ers will get into the postseason regardless of the result. A San Francisco loss could boost the Philadelphia Eagles into the No. 6 seed.
Philadelphia can beat the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, as the visiting team may rest its starters because it can't control its own movement up the standings.