NFL Playoff Bracket 2022: AFC, NFC Championship Picture, Odds and Predictions

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJanuary 24, 2022

El defensive end de los Chiefs de Kansas City captura al quarterback de los Bengals de Cincinnati Joe Burrow en el encuentro del domingo 2 de enero del 2022 en Cincinnati. (AP Foto/David Dermer)
David Dermer/Associated Press

The expanded NFL playoffs format may have underwhelmed some viewers during the Wild Card Weekend. However, the divisional round featured more than its fair share of well-matched opponents and games that came down to the wire. 

Now that the dust has settled, we know which four teams will continue on the road to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California on February 13.

The No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals defeated the No. 1 Tennessee Titans with a last-second field goal on Saturday afternoon for the final result of 19-16.

Later that night, the No. 6 San Francisco 49ers shocked the No. 1 Green Bay Packers in a low-scoring affair that nonetheless went down to the final minute as they, yet again, won with a crucial field goal in the final seconds. 

Sunday afternoon's action featured a showdown between the No. 4 Los Angeles Rams and No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though the Rams got out to a seemingly comfortable 27-3 lead, Tom Brady and his Bucs did what they do best and fought their way back to a 27-27 tie in the fourth quarter. Still, Matthew Stafford and Co. managed to matriculate down the field for their very own last-minute field goal. 

If you thought there couldn't be any more games that would come down to the last minute on the weekend, you were sorely mistaken. The No. 3 Buffalo Bills and No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs played a wild fourth quarter of football that saw the lead change three times in the last two minutes of regulation, with 25 total points scored, before forcing overtime. There, Patrick Mahomes and his Chiefs got the job done as the rest of the football world wondered about the fairness of the NFL's overtime rules. 

Let's take a closer look at each team's odds heading toward Super Bowl LVI and make some predictions as to how they might fare in next weekend's conference championship games. 


NFL Playoff Bracket

Date: January 30

AFC Championship
No. 4 Bengals at No. 2 Chiefs, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

NFC Championship
No. 6 49ers at No. 4 Rams, 6:40 p.m. ET (Fox)


Super Bowl Odds 

Kansas City (+135; bet $100 to win $135) 

Los Angeles Rams (+200)

San Francisco 49ers (+450)

Cincinnati Bengals (+700)




Championship Sunday is set! #NFLPlayoffs https://t.co/saQq7NXXXs

The Chiefs head into championship weekend as the odds-on favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in the last three years.

In the game against the Bills and hot young quarterback Josh Allen, the Chiefs bent but never broke and Mahomes showed why he is one of the game's best quarterbacks in a crunch-time situation. 

But don't overlook the Rams. Sean McVay's team showed everything you would want to see in a postseason contender. Not only did they play their way to a 24-point lead, but when their own self-inflicted mistakes and the greatest quarterback in the history of the game in Tom Brady undid some of their progress, they were able to recover, get back in the game and seal off the victory. 

Playoff games can be won or lost on the little things teams practice all the time and yet sometimes fall by the wayside in actual execution, like rushing to get lined up for a last-minute spike to attempt a field goal.

Stafford showed remarkable poise and finally looks like the talented veteran he is thanks to an incredible surrounding cast of Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers, Tyler Higbee and new addition Odell Beckham Jr. 

Neither the 49ers nor the Packers looked particularly impressive in their low-scoring bout, but nevertheless, one of them had to win and the 49ers simply made fewer mistakes. That's sometimes been a tall order for them, given how prone quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is to turnovers. 

The 49ers have often seemed to have the Rams' number, but it's really hard to see the rivals to the north preventing this Stafford and McVay-led team from hosting its very own Super Bowl. 

The Cincinnati Bengals seem to be undervalued in the odds. It's true they have had season-long headaches on the offensive line and struggle to give Joe Burrow a clean pocket, but their numerous playmakers, including Joe Mixon and rookie sensation Ja'Marr Chase, allow the quarterback to keep churning out yards. 

The Chiefs are surely still smarting from the Bengals' victory over them in Week 17, and the fact that it was a last-second field goal, given all we saw from this weekend's games, has to be unnerving.

The Chiefs' experience gives them the edge but don't count the Bengals out of this one. Cincinnati is a young, talented team and its time is coming. 

Prediction: Rams vs. Chiefs Super Bowl; Chiefs win


Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

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