NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Postseason Scenarios and Wild-Card Bracket

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 10, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Postseason Scenarios and Wild-Card Bracket

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Steelers made it to the playoffs. They finished the regular season with an overtime win against their biggest rival, the Baltimore Ravens, but they wouldn't have reached the postseason without help from the Las Vegas Raiders.

    On Sunday night, the Raiders hosted the Los Angeles Chargers in a matchup that decided the AFC wild-card race. The winner would get into the playoffs, while the loser would be out. But there was also the potential for a tie, and in that scenario, the Raiders and Chargers would both make it and the Steelers' season would be over.

    It came down to the final seconds in overtime, when Daniel Carlson's 47-yard field goal lifted Las Vegas to victory as time expired. And that kick sent Pittsburgh fans into raptures.

    Now, after 18 weeks, the longest regular season in NFL history is complete. The six Wild Card Round matchups are set, and the playoffs are set to begin Saturday.

    Here's everything you need to know heading into the postseason.

Wild-Card Round Schedule

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Saturday, Jan. 15

    Las Vegas Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC

    New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS


    Sunday, Jan. 16

    Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

    San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

    Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC


    Monday, Jan. 17

    Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC

AFC Playoff Picture, Scenarios

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 Tennessee Titans (12-5)

    No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) vs. No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)

    No. 3 Buffalo Bills (11-6) vs. No. 6 New England Patriots (10-7)

    No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) vs. No. 5 Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)


    The Steelers won their final two games of the regular season, beating the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in consecutive weeks to reach the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Their reward is a challenging matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

    This won't be the first time that Pittsburgh and Kansas City have faced off this season, and that meeting didn't go well for the Steelers. They lost 36-10 to the Chiefs in a lopsided contest in Kansas City in Week 16. They will be hoping for a better outcome at Arrowhead Stadium this time around.

    If Pittsburgh can pull off the upset, it would be guaranteed to face the Titans in the divisional round as the lowest remaining seed. Tennessee secured the conference's No. 1 seed and a first-round bye with its win over the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

    The Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots will meet for the third time this season Saturday night. New England has already won at Highmark Stadium this term, as it notched a 14-10 road victory in Week 13. But the Bills avenged that loss when they went on the road and beat the Pats 33-21 in Week 16.

    Buffalo could beat New England and get to host another game in the divisional round. But in order for that to happen, Kansas City would need to be knocked off by Pittsburgh in the Wild Card Round.

    Even though the Raiders didn't clinch a playoff berth until the final seconds of the regular season, they moved up to the No. 5 seed with their victory and the Patriots' loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Now, Las Vegas will go on the road to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a Week 11 rematch.

    The Bengals beat the Raiders on the road in the teams' previous meeting, pulling away late for a 32-13 victory. But Las Vegas will be seeking a better result on the back of winning its final four games of the regular season.

    It's possible the Raiders could host a game in the divisional round, but all three lower seeds (them, the Patriots and the Steelers) would need to be victorious in the Wild Card Round.

NFC Playoff Picture, Scenarios

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Bye: No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-4)

    No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) vs. No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

    No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (12-5) vs. No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (10-7)

    No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (12-5) vs. No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-6)


    If the Philadelphia Eagles are going to make a deep playoff run, they will have to go through the two teams with the best records in the NFL this season. They are going on the road to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, and if they pull off the upset, they would travel to face the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round as the lowest remaining seed.

    Philadelphia lost 28-22 when it hosted Tampa Bay in Week 6. But the game wasn't quite as close as the score indicated, as the Bucs had a 21-point lead late in the third quarter.

    Because the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers had to beat the Los Angeles Rams in order to get into the playoffs. And that's just what San Francisco did, as it pulled out a 27-24 victory in overtime in Los Angeles. The 49ers will now take on the Dallas Cowboys for the first time this season.

    Dallas will have an opportunity to be back at home in the divisional round, but it will need to beat San Francisco and also have Tampa Bay get upset by Philadelphia.

    The Rams and Arizona Cardinals will face off for the third time this season when the NFC West rivals meet in Los Angeles. Even though the Rams lost Sunday, they still won the division title because the Cardinals lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks.

    When the NFC West rivals met in Los Angeles in Week 4, the Cardinals notched a 37-20 victory. However, the Rams avenged that loss when they went on the road and won 30-23 at Arizona in Week 14. That was the start of a tough stretch for the Cardinals, who lost four of their final five regular-season games.

    For Arizona to host a game in the divisional round, it will need to beat Los Angeles and also have San Francisco and Philadelphia win in the Wild Card Round.