NFL Playoff Bracket 2022: AFC, NFC Picture and Super Bowl Predictions

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2022

NFL Playoff Bracket 2022: AFC, NFC Picture and Super Bowl Predictions

0 of 3

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    A wild Week 18 that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers keep their playoff aspirations alive by way of overtime victories also provided a clearer look at the matchups that will kick off the NFL playoffs next weekend.

    In the NFC, the frozen tundra of Green Bay will make for the most imposing home-field advantage, but if history tells us anything, sub-zero temperatures does not guarantee the home team victory, as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers found out last year, courtesy of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    The AFC will run through Tennesee.

    The Titans, a gritty team that runs the ball and plays solid situational football, will look to put an end to the Kansas City Chiefs' dominance in the conference. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Co. will have something to say about that, while Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills seek coronation as the new force in the AFC.

    Who cashed their ticket to the postseason, which wild-card matchups await fans in a week's time and who will play in, and ultimately win, Super Bowl LVI on February 13?

AFC Playoff Bracket

1 of 3

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press


    1. Tennessee Titans (12-5, clinched AFC South and No. 1 seed)
    2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5, clinched AFC West)
    3. Buffalo Bills (11-6, clinched AFC East)
    4. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7, clinched AFC North)
    5. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7, clinched playoffs)
    6. New England Patriots (10-7, clinched playoffs)
    7. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1, clinched playoffs)



    Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

    New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

    Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

NFC Playoff Bracket

2 of 3

    Rich Schultz/Associated Press

    NFC Seeding

    1. Green Bay Packers (13-4, clinched NFC North and No. 1 seed)
    2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4, clinched NFC South)
    3. Dallas Cowboys (12-5, clinched NFC East)
    4. Los Angeles Rams (12-5, clinched NFC West)
    5. Arizona Cardinals (11-6, clinched playoffs)
    6. San Francisco 49ers (10-7, cliched playoffs)
    7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8, clinched playoffs)



    Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

    Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams

Super Bowl LVI Prediction

3 of 3

    Lon Horwedel/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers have, for the majority of this season, been the best team in football.

    That is nothing new for Aaron Rodgers and Co., who secured the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs a year ago before losing to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.

    One year earlier, the Pack was dominated by a run-heavy San Francisco 49ers team en route to another disappointing conclusion to the season.

    The dissension between Rodgers and the Packers organization is well-documented, and the probable league MVP's future is uncertain at this point. In what may be the last dance for Rodgers and the only organization he has ever known, the future Hall of Famer will finally appear in his second Super Bowl.

    The Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes enter the playoffs without home-field advantage for the first time in the reigning AFC champions' dynastic run, but it will not matter. Experience trumps all, and Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu know what it takes to win those big, high-pressure games.

    That they have appeared in three straight AFC title games and two Super Bowls gives them an edge over an AFC defined as much by youthful quarterbacks like Joe Burrow and Mac Jones as it is the grizzled vets of playoffs yesteryear like Ben Roethlisberger.

    There is not only the experience edge but also the on-field product. Sure, Buffalo and Tennessee both whupped up on the Chiefs earlier in the season, but winning a regular-season game and replicating it when the lights are brightest are two different things.

    Unfortunately for Mahomes, a stronger Packers defense will lead to a second consecutive Super Bowl disappointment.

    The former league MVP committed more turnovers in 2021 than any other year of his career. Thirteen interceptions and nine fumbles have put the Chiefs in positions they had not previously encountered over the last three seasons.

    Meanwhile, the Packers are plus-13 in turnover ratio, good enough for third in the league behind Dallas and Indianapolis. Mahomes would likely find himself trying to do too much, creating opportunities for the Packers to pick him off or force a fumble, allowing Rodgers to get the ball back and put the game out of reach.

    In what would likely be a shootout between two of the most gifted quarterbacks of this or any generation, Rodgers would ride supreme confidence and one of the better defenses he has ever played with to a second NFL championship.


    Super Bowl LVI Prediction: Packers defeat Chiefs 38-28