NFL Playoff Schedule 2022: Wild-Card Matchups, Bracket Dates and Start Times

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2022

Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) celebrates after kicking the game-winning field goal against the Los Angeles Chargers during overtime of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
David Becker/Associated Press

The NFL playoff field was finalized by the most improbable set of circumstances. 

The Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 35-32 in overtime to clinch the 14th and final playoff spot.

Daniel Carlson hit the game-winning field goal as time expired to send the Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers into the postseason. Pittsburgh would have been eliminated with a tie, which became a real possibility after the Chargers came back from a 15-point deficit to force overtime. 

Las Vegas' victory secured a wild-card round matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, which will force it to make a quick turnaround to Saturday afternoon.

The Raiders' win also set up a third meeting between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. Buffalo beat out the Patriots for the AFC East title earlier in the day. 

There was some drama in Sunday's late afternoon window in the NFC, but none that compared to the madness in the AFC.

The San Francisco 49ers also used an overtime win to secure their postseason spot. Kyle Shanahan's team secured the last NFC playoff berth by beating the Los Angeles Rams, who dropped to the No. 4 seed.

The Rams and Arizona Cardinals will be involved in one of a few rematches during wild-card weekend. Los Angeles and Arizona finish off the six-game slate with the first-ever Monday night playoff game. 


AFC Wild-Card Matchups

No. 5 Las Vegas at No. 4 Cincinnati (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

No. 6 New England at No. 3 Buffalo (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 7 Pittsburgh at No. 2 Kansas City (Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC)

The Raiders' victory aligned them with the Cincinnati Bengals in the first of the six wild-card weekend matchups. 

Cincinnati comes in with an advantage in rest after Joe Burrow and most of its starters did not play in Week 18. The Bengals defeated the Raiders back in Week 11 by 19 points. 

That was one of five losses in a six-game span for the Raiders, who then rallied with four victories in a row to qualify for the postseason. 

Saturday's opener marks the first playoff appearance for both Derek Carr and Joe Burrow. 

The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills also earned rematches by way of Las Vegas' improbable victory. 

Kansas City defeated the Steelers just three weeks ago by 26 points. Patrick Mahomes and Co. should be the overwhelming favorite against Mike Tomlin's side. Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to back-to-back wins to reach the postseason, but he faces a tough challenge against a Chiefs defense that limited his team to 10 points in Week 16. 

Buffalo and New England square off for the third time. New England won a rain-soaked affair in Week 13. The Bills returned the favor in Week 16 to take over the AFC East lead. Buffalo clinched that title with a win over the New York Jets on Sunday. 

The Tennessee Titans will watch all of the potential matchups from home next weekend. They locked up the No. 1 overall seed with a Week 18 win over the Houston Texans.


NFC Wild-Card Matchups

No. 7 Philadelphia at No. 2 Tampa Bay (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox)

No. 6 San Francisco at No. 3 Dallas (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 5 Arizona at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN)

Two of the three NFC Wild Card matchups were played during the regular season.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the only NFC South team to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay won the Week 6 clash between the two sides by six points.

Brady has a long history against the Eagles. He faced them twice in the Super Bowl as a member of the Patriots.

Philadelphia enters the postseason as a rested group since most of its starters did not participate in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Tampa Bay played Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans and others for most of the victory over the Carolina Panthers.

The Arizona Cardinals and Rams were drawn against each other after the late drama in the two NFC West contests.

Los Angeles dropped from the No. 2 seed to No. 4 seed through its loss to San Francisco. Arizona remained at No. 5 from its defeat to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cardinals and Rams split their regular-season meetings. Los Angeles won the most-recent affair in Week 14. Arizona captured the first contest back in Week 4.

The Cowboys were aligned with the 49ers after Kyle Shanahan's team defeated the Rams in overtime.

Dallas moved up one spot over the Rams thanks to the conference record tiebreaker. The Cowboys appeared to get back into a rhythm Saturday night, but those results should be taken lightly because they came against Philadelphia's second-team defense.