2022 NFL Playoff Picture – Projecting the Postseason Bracket

The 2022 NFL regular season is nearing the halfway point, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. With several weeks left, there is still a lot that can change, but certain teams have emerged as top contenders while others face uphill battles to reach the postseason. This comprehensive guide breaks down the current NFL playoff picture, projecting which teams will make the bracket and analyzing their outlooks.

AFC Playoff Picture

In the AFC, parity reigns supreme this season. Nearly every division remains up for grabs, setting the stage for a wild sprint to the finish. Here are the current projected playoff teams in the AFC and their odds of securing spots:

Current AFC Division Leaders

Buffalo Bills (5-1) – The Bills have asserted themselves as a Super Bowl favorite, led by Josh Allen’s MVP-caliber play. Despite some flaws, Buffalo looks primed to repeat as AFC East champs.

Playoff Odds: 95%

Tennessee Titans (4-2) – Tennessee remains atop a weak AFC South despite losing its last two games. Derrick Henry’s return will determine whether the Titans can fend off the Colts.

Playoff Odds: 65%

Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) – Behind Patrick Mahomes’ brilliance, the Chiefs appear headed for their seventh straight AFC West crown. But with improved competition, it won’t come easy.

Playoff Odds: 80%

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) – Lamar Jackson has Baltimore leading a tightly-bunched AFC North. With a middling defense, the Ravens may be in a dogfight to the end.

Playoff Odds: 60%

Current AFC Wild Cards

New York Jets (5-2) – The surprising Jets are riding high behind the rejuvenated play of QB Zach Wilson. But New York remains unproven and faces a tough second-half schedule.

Playoff Odds: 55%

Los Angeles Chargers (4-3) – Justin Herbert makes the Chargers dangerous, but close losses raise concerns about their ability to finish. They still look playoff-bound.

Playoff Odds: 70%

Cincinnati Bengals (4-3) – Despite a shaky offensive line, Joe Burrow has the defending AFC champs positioned for a return to the postseason. But nothing is guaranteed in the North.

Playoff Odds: 65%

On the AFC Playoff Bubble

Miami Dolphins (4-3) – Led by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Miami has flashed top-tier potential. But QB uncertainty and inconsistency could derail their postseason push.

Playoff Odds: 50%

Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1) – Thanks to a top-five scoring defense, the Colts remain in striking distance of the Titans. But Indy needs Matt Ryan to sharpen up.

Playoff Odds: 45%

New England Patriots (3-4) – Bill Belichick has the Patriots playing trademark stingy defense, but their offense ranks among the NFL’s worst. The division title looks increasingly unlikely.

Playoff Odds: 30%

Cleveland Browns (3-5) – With Deshaun Watson set to return, the Browns aren’t dead yet. But a slow start has left little margin for error down the stretch.

Playoff Odds: 25%

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) / Las Vegas Raiders (2-4) / Denver Broncos (2-5) – These preseason playoff hopefuls already face massive uphills climbs just to contention. Significant turnarounds would be required.

Playoff Odds: 15%

NFC Playoff Picture

The NFC playoff race remains similarly unsettled, with both wild card spots up for grabs. The Eagles have separated from the pack, but division titles remain within multiple teams’ reach.

Current NFC Division Leaders

Philadelphia Eagles (6-0) – The lone unbeaten team, Philadelphia looks like a complete juggernaut, especially with the addition of A.J. Brown. The Eagles are in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage.

Playoff Odds: 99%

Minnesota Vikings (5-1) – Despite questions about their defense, the Vikings continue finding ways to win thanks to Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. They’re well-positioned in the North.

Playoff Odds: 90%

Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – Pete Carroll has the Seahawks ahead of schedule in what was expected to be a rebuilding year. But Seattle’s defense could be their undoing.

Playoff Odds: 65%

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) – It’s been a disappointing title defense for the Bucs so far. But with Tom Brady at the helm, Tampa Bay remains dangerous and capable of a run.

Playoff Odds: 55%

Current NFC Wild Cards

Dallas Cowboys (5-2) – Dallas hasn’t put it fully together but remains talented on both sides of the ball. Mike McCarthy needs to guide them on a second-half run.

Playoff Odds: 75%

New York Giants (6-1) – One of the season’s biggest surprises, the Giants have bought into Brian Daboll’s system and rely on Saquon Barkley’s resurgence. Sustaining their formula will be key.

Playoff Odds: 65%

San Francisco 49ers (4-4) – The rollercoaster 49ers have been stunted by injuries. But with playmakers on both sides, they’re still within striking distance of the North.

Playoff Odds: 55%

On the NFC Playoff Bubble

Los Angeles Rams (3-3) – The reigning champs have been plagued by a Super Bowl hangover. But with Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald, L.A. can’t be counted out.

Playoff Odds: 45%

Atlanta Falcons (3-4) – Thanks to an efficient offense, Atlanta lurks just outside the playoff picture. But do Marcus Mariota and the Falcons have enough firepower to stick around?

Playoff Odds: 35%

Green Bay Packers (3-4) – Aaron Rodgers is showing signs of decline during Green Bay’s disappointing start. The Packers desperately need to string together some wins.

Playoff Odds: 40%

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) – Projected as contenders, Arizona has crumbled after a 2-2 start. The DeAndre Hopkins suspension hurts, but the Cardinals can still recover.

Playoff Odds: 30%

New Orleans Saints (2-5) – Dennis Allen’s defense is keeping the Saints competitive, but New Orleans lacks the offensive firepower of a playoff team. The climb back looks steep.

Playoff Odds: 20%

Carolina Panthers (2-5) / Chicago Bears (3-4) / Washington Commanders (3-4) – These rebuilding teams remain on the fringe but would need major second-half surges paired with collapses above.

Playoff Odds: <15%

Projecting the Final AFC Playoff Bracket

Given the dynamics at play, here is an early projection of how the final AFC playoff picture may look entering the wild card round:

|Division Winner| Division Winner|Division Winner|Division Winner|
|1. Buffalo Bills|2. Tennessee Titans|3. Kansas City Chiefs| 4. Baltimore Ravens|

|Wild Card 1|Wild Card 2|Wild Card 3|
|5. Los Angeles Chargers|6. Cincinnati Bengals|7. New York Jets|

The Bills remain Super Bowl favorites, while the Chiefs seem poised to hold off challengers for another division crown.

The AFC North figures to come down to the wire between the Ravens, Bengals, and Browns – Baltimore gets the nod for now thanks to Jackson’s playmaking.

Meanwhile, Justin Herbert’s Chargers and Joe Burrow’s Bengals appear primed to claim the AFC’s two wild card spots, fending off the upstart Jets. But nothing is set in stone.

Projecting the Final NFC Playoff Bracket

In the NFC, here is a potential projection for the final playoff field:

|Division Winner|Division Winner|Division Winner|Division Winner|
|1. Philadelphia Eagles|2. Minnesota Vikings|3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers|4. Seattle Seahawks|

|Wild Card 1|Wild Card 2|Wild Card 3|
|5. Dallas Cowboys|6. New York Giants|7. San Francisco 49ers|

The Eagles remain the NFC’s most complete team, while Tom Brady and the Bucs still feel like the safest bet to take the South.

The Vikings and Seahawks have emerged ahead of expectations to win their respective divisions, holding off the Packers and defending champ Rams.

Finally, the 49ers, Cowboys, and Giants could engage in a tight battle for the NFC’s two wild cards. Their playoff standing may come down to the final week.

6 Key Questions That Will Shape the Playoff Races

With the playoff picture coming into focus, several pressing questions remain that will determine how the races shake out. The answers to these will go a long way in shaping the postseason field.

Can the Bills hold off the Dolphins and Jets to win the East?

Miami and New York have been two of the league’s most pleasant surprises, but Buffalo remains the team to beat. The Bills must avoid slip-ups within the division while continuing to gel as Super Bowl favorites.

Josh Allen’s MVP-level play makes them hard to bet against. But if the Bills falter, the Dolphins and Jets are poised to strike. Buffalo’s intra-division games down the stretch will prove pivotal.

Verdict: The Bills have the talent edge and should repeat, but one key injury or upset could open the door. Winning the East is no guarantee.

Will the Titans or Colts prevail in the lackluster South?

Despite inconsistent play from Tennessee, Indy has failed to seize control of the division. But with the Titans facing major questions at QB, the Colts still have an opportunity.

The race figures to come down to the play of Ryan Tannehill and Matt Ryan. Tennessee likely needs a healthy Derrick Henry to power their offense. The Colts must cash in on scoring chances.

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In a division filled with flaws, the door is open for an unexpected champ to emerge.

Verdict: The Titans get the edge for now, but Indy is a serious threat if Tannehill struggles. This race will be uninspiring but competitive.

Can the Chargers finally close out tight games down the stretch?

Los Angeles has seemed poised to break through before falling short in crunch time. With Herbert leading a talented roster, this may finally be the year.

But until Brandon Staley’s squad proves they can power through adversity, doubts will linger. The Chargers must walk the tightrope of a late-season playoff push.

Verdict: The talent is undeniable, but Los Angeles must rewrite the narrative to inspire confidence. They should get in, but the wild card is no sure thing.

Will the Bengals’ offensive line hold up down the stretch?

Cincinnati rode a prolific offense to the Super Bowl despite an atrocious O-line. Joe Burrow was constantly battered along the way.

The line remains the Bengals’ glaring weakness. With improved competition in the North, Burrow will face intense pressure. Cincinnati cannot afford further attrition upfront.

Verdict: Burrow’s brilliance can mask deficiencies, but the O-line remains a ticking time bomb. It may once again doom the Bengals before January.

Can Brady and the Bucs overcome age and injuries?

Tampa Bay’s title defense has been marred by injuries and disappointing losses. But Brady’s presence keeps them dangerous.

The Bucs must get and stay healthy, while Brady needs to find his Hall of Fame form again. There are enough concerns to doubt Tampa’s ability to flip the switch. Still, it’s hard to ever count out a Brady-led team.

Verdict: The Bucs no longer look like the NFC’s team to beat, but should still have enough firepower to take the South. Health is the key X-factor.

Are the Giants for real?

One of the season’s most unexpected playoff contenders, New York has bought into Brian Daboll’s system behind Saquon Barkley’s resurgence. But are they built for the long haul?

As the season wears on, the Giants remain difficult to gauge. Maintaining their formula and chemistry will determine if they are pretenders or contenders. The question looms large over the NFC wild card races.

Verdict: The Giants can’t be discounted, but seem unlikely to stick as a top-seven NFC team. Enjoy the ride, but temper expectations entering January.

NFL Playoff Outlook: Conclusion

The final weeks of the NFL regular season will provide plenty of drama as teams battle for playoff positioning. From division titles to wild card spots, much remains up for grabs. Football fans are in for a compelling sprint to the finish.

With playoff berths and home-field advantage on the line, expect shocks and surprises along the way. Injuries, upsets and clutch performances will shape the playoff field. Nothing is guaranteed for the contenders at this stage.

While the Eagles, Bills and Chiefs appear favorites for top seeds, intriguing races in the AFC North and NFC South especially bear watching. The wild cards look equally fluid in both conferences.

Strap in for a wild ride to the postseason. The NFL playoff picture promises to deliver tight races, high stakes and stunning outcomes right up until the very end.

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