NFL Playoff Bracket 2022: Picks and Predictions for AFC, NFC Wild CardJanuary 7, 2022
NFL Playoff Bracket 2022: Picks and Predictions for AFC, NFC Wild Card
16 games are all that remain to decide two division titles and three playoff spots. Welcome to the final week of the 2021-22 NFL season, football fans.
While most of the playoff picture has been filled in, there are plenty of reasons to check in with Week 18. Adding an extra week always had the potential to make the final slate a bit meaningless, but the playoff race has been tight all year, and 18 of the league's 32 teams are either in the playoffs or remain alive.
The odds are longer for some teams than others, of course, but roughly half of the league will have something to play for in the final week.
Here, you'll find a look at this week's playoff scenarios and some predictions for the opening round of the postseason. We'll also run down the complete playoff schedule.
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
Week 18 Scenarios
The Arizona Cardinals are in the playoffs and can claim the NFC West with a win and a loss by the Los Angeles Rams.
The Baltimore Ravens have an outside chance of making the postseason, but it's incredibly unlikely. The Ravens need a win plus losses by the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and a Miami Dolphins loss or tie.
The Buffalo Bills already own a playoff spot. However, they can clinch the AFC East with a win, a New England Patriots loss or ties by both teams.
The Cincinnati Bengals have won the AFC North. They can still earn the AFC's No. 1 seed, but they'll need help. They need a win plus losses by the Tennessee Titans, Kansas Chiefs and New England. Cincinnati, though, won't play quarterback Joe Burrow against the Cleveland Browns.
The Dallas Cowboys have clinched the NFC East. They cannot claim the NFC's No. 1 seed and will be playing for seeing only in Week 18.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers have clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They have no reason to play starters against the Detroit Lions but plan to do so.
"If somebody goes in there and gets injured then, 'Well, why'd you play your guys?' But if you go out there in that first playoff game and you lay an egg, 'Well, why'd you rest your guys?' So there's not a right answer," head coach Matt LaFleur said, per Mike Spofford of the team's official website.
The Colts will be playoff-bound with a win or a Chargers loss paired with a tie between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Beating the Jacksonville Jaguars will end the playoff hopes of the Ravens and the Steelers.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have already won the AFC West. They can claim the AFC's No. 1 seed with a win and a loss or tie by the Titans.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders face a win-and-in scenario against the Chargers on Sunday night. They can also get in with a tie and a Colts loss or tie. Losses by Indianapolis and Pittsburgh would also send Las Vegas to the playoffs.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are in with a win or a tie.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are in the postseason and can claim the NFC West with a win or a Cardinals loss.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have clinched a playoff berth. They can win the AFC East with a win or tie and a Bills loss. They can take the No. 1 seed with a win and losses by the Titans and Chiefs, plus a loss or tie by Buffalo.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints can claim the NFC's final wild-card spot with a win and a loss by the San Francisco 49ers.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in as a wild-card team. They will be the No. 7 seed if the 49ers make the postseason and the sixth seed if New Orleans gets a playoff spot.
Like the Ravens, the Steelers need help, and a lot of it. The Steelers need a win, a Colts loss and a Raiders-Chargers outcome that is not a tie.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are in with a win or a loss by the Saints. A tie or a New Orleans tie would also put San Francisco into the dance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady and the defending-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already clinched the NFC South. They'll only have seeding to play for in the final week.
The Titans currently control the AFC's No. 1 seed. They'll claim it with a win or with losses by Cincinnati, New England and Kansas City. One interesting note for the Titans: Star running back Derrick Henry has been designated to return from injured reserve.
Predictions for Wild Card Weekend
Predictions for Wild Card Weekend Matchups
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
*Projected winners in bold.
NFL Postseason Schedule
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