NFL Playoff Scenarios 2022: Wild-Card Picture, Postseason Bracket and Odds
The NFL's first ever 17-game regular season finale lived up to the hype, with a trio of overtime thrillers and a shocking upset settling the playoff picture on the final day of the long campaign.
The early games on Sunday went a long way toward shaping the playoff picture. The Tennessee Titans clinched the AFC's No. 1 seed with a win over the Houston Texans, while the Jacksonville Jaguars stunned the Indianapolis Colts to help prevent the latter from making the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers kept themselves in the playoff hunt and ended the Baltimore Ravens' postseason dreams with a 16-13 overtime win.
In the afternoon slate, the San Francisco 49ers punched their ticket to the playoffs in dramatic fashion, coming back from down 17-0 against the Los Angeles Rams to win 27-24 in overtime. The Rams still got the NFC West title, as the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the afternoon window. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills clinched the AFC East crown with a win over the New York Jets.
All the madness was capped off by Sunday night's incredible battle between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers. Despite a furious 4th-quarter comeback from the Bolts, the Raiders won 35-32 on a Daniel Carlson field goal as time expired in overtime. It put the Raiders and Steelers in—the latter would have been out with a tie—and knocked the Chargers out in Brandon Staley's first year as head coach.
We'll take a look at the postseason picture now that it's complete, as well as the latest Super Bowl odds for the playoff-bound teams.
Postseason Standings and Super Bowl Odds
1. Tennessee Titans, 12-5 (+850, bet $100 to win $850)
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 12-5 (+450)
3. Buffalo Bills, 11-6 (+750)
4. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-7 (+1600)
5. Las Vegas Raiders, 10-7 (+4000)
6. New England Patriots 10-7 (+2000)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers, 9-7-1 (+6000)
1. Green Bay Packers, 13-4 (+380)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 13-4 (+800)
3. Dallas Cowboys, 12-5 (+1200)
4. Los Angeles Rams, 12-5 (+1000)
5. Arizona Cardinals, 11-6 (+2500)
6. San Francisco 49ers, 10-7 (+2000)
7. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-8 (+6000)
Super Bowl odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
AFC Wild Card Picture
AFC Playoff Bracket (as of Sunday afternoon)
Bye: Tennessee Titans
No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 6 New England Patriots at No. 3 Buffalo Bills
No. 5 Las Vegas Raiders at No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals
Will the Raiders have enough in the tank next week against the Bengals?
Sunday night's heavyweight brawl with the Chargers looked like it took every ounce of stamina the team had, but they managed to hold on for a win after 70 minutes of football. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will have his work cut out for him devising a scheme to slow down Joe Burrow, who threw for 971 yards and eight touchdowns in Weeks 16 and 17 before sitting out Week 18. Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby was hounding Justin Herbert all throughout the game against the Chargers. A good push rash is a must against the talented Bengals offense.
The Raiders win bumped the Patriots down to the sixth seed, setting up a bitter rivalry matchup with the Bills in Buffalo. The two teams split the season series. The Patriots won the first contest 14-10 despite Mac Jones throwing only three passes, only to see the Bills get swift revenge two weeks later with a 33-21 win. Can Bill Belichick come up with a scheme to disrupt the pass-happy Bills and keep Jones from having to go drive-for-drive with Allen? He's done it to some of the best offensive minds in the game over the years, so don't bet against it.
It's tough to imagine the Steelers going on the road to beat the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger's arm just isn't what it used to be, while Mahomes and the Chiefs offense really kicked into high gear over the second half of the season. The Steelers will try to make this ugly, sending T.J. Watt (22.5 sacks, tying the NFL record) hurtling at Mahomes and running the ball often with rookie Najee Harris to control the clock.
The Titans getting a win over the Texans and securing the No. 1 seed wasn't a focal point of the Sunday slate, but it has massive implications. The bye gives the Titans another week to rest star running back Derrick Henry, who hasn't played since he suffered a foot fracture in Week 8. He was an MVP candidate up until he got hurt and will give the offense a major boost as the team looks to chart a path to the Super Bowl.
NFC Wild Card Picture
NFC Playoff Bracket
Bye: Green Bay Packers
No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles at No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 6 San Francisco 49ers at No. 3 Dallas Cowboys
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams
The Eagles have their work cut out for them in the Wild Card Round. Not only were they something of a surprise addition to the playoffs—they were 5-7 after 12 weeks and then won four straight to clinch a spot—but they also have to go up against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on the road.
The Bucs looked plenty comfortable at home in Week 18, beating the Carolina Panthers 41-17 with Brady throwing for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Leonard Fournette might also be on track to return, adding another dangerous element to the defending champions' potent offense. Jalen Hurts and company have their work cut out for them.
The 49ers showed plenty of spirit and creativity in beating the Rams to secure a playoff date with the Cowboys. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel ran for a TD and threw for another one on a trick play. Robbie Gould filled in admirably at punter.
The defense held Matthew Stafford in check for much of the second half and overtime. Will it be enough against the Cowboys? It's possible, but Jimmy Garoppolo will likely have to play better. He threw two picks against the Rams.
If you're looking for a game with the most potential for excitement in the first round, it just might be the Cardinals and the Rams. Not only is it a rubber match between the division rivals—they split the season series—but it's also a matchup of two of the most creative offensive minds in the game: Kliff Kingsbury and Sean McVay.
It should be a fun game but could be a tougher climb for the Cardinals, as wideout DeAndre Hopkins is unlikely to return next week as he recovers from an MCL tear.
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