NFL Playoff Picture 2022: AFC, NFC Brackets, Odds, Scenarios and Picks

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 22, 2022

NFL Playoff Picture 2022: AFC, NFC Brackets, Odds, Scenarios and Picks

0 of 3

    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Last week, the NFL playoffs got underway with six matchups in the wild-card round. However, not many of those games ended up being closely contested, and most of the favorites were victorious.

    Five of the six home teams won to advance to the divisional round, with four of them winning by 16 or more points. The lone upset came in the NFC, as the No. 6 San Francisco 49ers notched a 23-17 road victory over the No. 3 Dallas Cowboys.

    Things will likely be more competitive this weekend in the divisional round, as there are some exciting matchups on the slate. Two games are set for Saturday, then two more games will take place Sunday.

    Here's everything you need to know about this weekend's divisional round matchups.

Divisional Round Schedule, Odds

1 of 3

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Saturday, Jan. 22

    No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals at No. 1 Tennessee Titans (-3.5), 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS

    No. 6 San Francisco 49ers at No. 1 Green Bay Packers (-5.5), 8:15 p.m. ET, Fox

    Sunday, Jan. 23

    No. 4 Los Angeles Rams at No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5), 3 p.m. ET, NBC

    No. 3 Buffalo Bills at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (-2), 6:30 p.m. ET, CBS

AFC Scenarios, Predictions

2 of 3

    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    The Titans are trying to make it back to the AFC Championship Game after falling to the Chiefs in that contest last year. If Tennessee returns, it will be at home for the game, as it would be hosting either Kansas City or Buffalo in a matchup for the conference title.

    However, the Titans will have to get past the Bengals first. And Cincinnati is looking to make its first deep playoff run since the 1988 season, when it lost Super Bowl XXIII. Since then, the Bengals haven't made it past the divisional round.

    Coming off its first postseason victory since the 1990 season, Cincinnati won't be back home this season. If it knocks off Tennessee, then it would travel to either Kansas City or Buffalo for the AFC Championship Game.

    In that scenario, the winner of the Chiefs-Bills matchup in the divisional round would host the Bengals in the conference title game, as the victor would be the top remaining seed with the Titans eliminated.

    Of the four remaining AFC teams, Kansas City has had the most recent postseason success. It has reached the Super Bowl each of the past two seasons and will be looking to make it three in a row this year.

    Tennessee hasn't reached the Super Bowl since the 1999 season, Buffalo last made it in the 1993 campaign and Cincinnati hasn't been there since the 1988 season.


    In 2019, the Chiefs beat the Titans in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LIV (which they then won). This year, Tennessee will be getting an opportunity to avenge that loss.

    First, the Titans will open their playoff run by beating the Bengals on Saturday. Tennessee will have star running back Derrick Henry back in its lineup, and that will give the offense the extra boost it needs to outlast Cincinnati in the matchup.

    The Chiefs will win an offensive shootout against the Bills on Sunday in a contest that should be a high-scoring affair. Buffalo is a strong team, but Kansas City's recent playoff success will be valuable in helping it pull out a close win.

NFC Scenarios, Predictions

3 of 3

    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    The Packers haven't been to the Super Bowl since they won the title at the end of the 2010 season. But they're the No. 1 seed in the NFC this year, so they'll get to host the NFC Championship Game if they make it there.

    That didn't help Green Bay last year, though. It lost to Tampa Bay in the conference title game, as the Bucs went on to win Super Bowl LV. And it's possible that those two teams could battle for the NFC championship at Lambeau Field again this year.

    If the Packers beat the 49ers on Saturday and the Buccaneers defeat the Rams on Sunday, that would set up a rematch between Green Bay and Tampa Bay for the NFC title. The Bucs would then need a road win in order to get to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row.

    San Francisco was the only road team to win last week, and now it will look for another upset as it takes on Green Bay. If the 49ers win, they'll be on the road again for the NFC Championship Game. And in that scenario, the winner of the Buccaneers-Rams contest would host the conference title game.

    If Los Angeles and San Francisco both pull off upsets this week, then the NFC West rivals would face off for the conference title. The 49ers swept their two games against the Rams during the regular season.

    Like Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and San Francisco have made recent Super Bowl appearances. The 49ers made it in the 2019 season, while the Rams got there in the 2018 season. However, both teams lost their respective Super Bowl matchups.


    The Packers are going to get another opportunity to host the NFC Championship Game. It's going to be cold in Green Bay on Saturday night, which will give them the advantage as Aaron Rodgers will power them to a win over the 49ers.

    However, the Packers will have a different opponent in the conference title game than last year. That's because the Rams are going to go on the road and pull off an upset against the Buccaneers.

    Tampa Bay's receiving corps isn't nearly as strong as it was last year, and Los Angeles' defense should capitalize. The Rams have standouts on both sides of the ball who are capable of making big plays, which will help them pull out a close victory over the Bucs.

    If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).

    Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).

    21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See for details.