The 2022 NFL regular season is heading into the home stretch, and the playoff picture is really starting to take shape. With contenders rising and pretenders falling, the race for the postseason is as exciting as ever. Which teams will secure a playoff berth and which matchups can fans expect to see in the playoffs this year? This comprehensive guide takes an in-depth look at the 2022-2023 NFL playoff picture projections.
AFC Playoff Standings Outlook
The AFC playoff race is tight this year, with several teams still battling it out for the top seeds. Here’s an overview of the current AFC playoff standings and predictions:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3)
The Chiefs have rebounded nicely after a slow start and look primed to secure the AFC’s #1 seed. Patrick Mahomes is an MVP frontrunner again, and the offense is clicking on all cylinders. Their remaining schedule is favorable, giving them an excellent shot at the coveted first-round bye.
Projection: AFC West champs and #1 seed
2. Buffalo Bills (10-3)
Despite some midseason struggles, the Bills remain one of the AFC’s elite teams. The defense has been stellar, and Josh Allen is capable of dominating games. The Bills should win the AFC East and have an opportunity to catch the Chiefs for the #1 seed.
Projection: AFC East champs and #2 seed
3. Baltimore Ravens (9-4)
Lamar Jackson’s injury has dampened their outlook, but the Ravens’ rushing attack and stifling defense should be enough to secure a playoff berth. J.K. Dobbins’ return will boost the run game. They have a tough schedule though, which could see them drop to the #3 seed.
Projection: #3 seed
4. Tennessee Titans (7-6)
Despite losing stud RB Derrick Henry, the Titans remain in playoff position thanks to the weak AFC South. They face tough competition for the division title from the Jaguars though. Ryan Tannehill must improve for them to make noise in the playoffs.
Projection: AFC South champs and #4 seed
5. Cincinnati Bengals (9-4)
After reaching the Super Bowl last season, Joe Burrow has the Bengals back in the mix. Their remaining schedule is very winnable, giving them a good opportunity to move up in the standings. The offense is potent, especially with Ja’Marr Chase’s return.
Projection: #5 seed
6. Miami Dolphins (8-5)
Miami has been inconsistent but gets dual threat QB Tua Tagovailoa back from injury. The Dolphins have enough offensive firepower to be dangerous, although the defense remains a question mark. They have a good shot to make the playoffs in a crowded AFC wild-card race.
Projection: #6 seed
7. New York Jets (7-6)
The Jets have been one of the NFL’s most surprising teams in 2022. Second-year QB Zach Wilson has lifted the offense alongside rookie sensation Garrett Wilson. The defense is elite, led by sack artist Quinnen Williams. They are firmly “in the hunt” for a wild card spot.
Projection: #7 seed
NFC Playoff Standings Outlook
The NFC playoff picture is similarly crowded, with the final wild card spots up for grabs. Here is how the NFC playoff race is shaping up:
1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1)
The Eagles have been the NFL’s most dominant team in 2022. Jalen Hurts has entered the MVP discussion with his dual threat abilities. The defense is also imposing, giving Philly a complete team. Barring an epic collapse, they will earn home field advantage in the NFC.
Projection: NFC East champs and #1 seed
2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
Despite some ups and downs, the Vikings are still on pace to win the NFC North under new coach Kevin O’Connell. Justin Jefferson is unstoppable, and the offense is dangerous. Their suspect defense could limit their playoff ceiling though.
Projection: NFC North champs and #2 seed
3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4)
With Christian McCaffrey now in the mix, the 49ers boast one of the NFL’s scariest offenses. The defense is stellar as well, allowing the fewest points in the league. If they can overtake Seattle, a #2 seed is within reach thanks to their tiebreaker over the Vikings.
Projection: #3 seed
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7)
It’s been a rocky season for the Bucs, but Tom Brady’s teams always find their way into the postseason. The offense is still elite, especially if Brady develops chemistry with new weapon Julio Jones. Todd Bowles’ defense will determine how far they can go though.
Projection: NFC South champs and #4 seed
5. Dallas Cowboys (10-3)
Dallas boasts one of the NFL’s most complete rosters, but inconsistencies have plagued their season. The offense runs through Tony Pollard now with Ezekiel Elliott banged up. The defense is stout but prone to lapses. Still, they have the talent to make a run.
Projection: #5 seed
6. New York Giants (7-5-1)
Rookie coach Brian Daboll has the Giants ahead of schedule in their rebuild. Saquon Barkley is playing at an elite level again, and Daniel Jones is making strides. The defense has also impressed. They are firmly in the mix for a wild card berth.
Projection: #6 seed
7. Seattle Seahawks (7-6)
The Seahawks have been the NFC’s surprise team thanks to stellar play from QB Geno Smith. The offense is quite explosive with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Rookie CB Tariq Woolen has also energized the defense. Seattle looks playoff bound.
Projection: #7 seed
NFL Playoff Matchup Predictions
Based on the current playoff projections, here is an early look at the potential matchups we could see during the 2022-2023 NFL postseason:
AFC Wild Card Round
- #2 Bills vs. #7 Jets: This would be an exciting matchup between division rivals. The Bills have owned this series for years, but the new-look Jets could challenge them. Still, Buffalo’s offense would likely overpower New York.
- #3 Ravens vs. #6 Dolphins: A showdown between two dynamic quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Tua Tagovailoa. Miami’s speed could give Baltimore trouble, but the Ravens’ rushing attack presents a tough matchup. A close game.
- #4 Titans vs. #5 Bengals: A rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional clash won by the Bengals. Joe Burrow vs Mike Vrabel’s exotic defensive schemes would be fascinating viewing. This matchup could go either way.
AFC Divisional Round
- #1 Chiefs vs. lowest remaining seed: The Chiefs would have home field advantage against whichever team emerges from the wild-card round. Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs offense should overwhelm any first-round survivor.
- #2 Bills vs. highest remaining seed: The Bills would also be heavily favored playing at home against the AFC’s #6 or #7 seed. Josh Allen would look to redeem last year’s epic playoff collapse against the Chiefs.
- #1 Chiefs vs. #2 Bills: This would be an AFC Championship Game for the ages featuring two of the league’s elite quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. It would likely be a shootout decided by which defense gets more stops. The Chiefs have the edge playing at home.
NFC Wild Card Round
- #2 Vikings vs. #7 Seahawks: Minnesota would likely be favored over the dangerous but inconsistent Seahawks. Justin Jefferson facing Seattle’s shaky pass defense is an intriguing matchup. The Vikings advance.
- #3 49ers vs. #6 Giants: Two of the NFC’s hottest teams would make for must-see wild-card viewing. Christian McCaffrey vs Saquon Barkley at running back would be sensational. But San Francisco’s defense gives them an edge.
- #4 Buccaneers vs. #5 Cowboys: A playoff rivalry renewed between these NFC heavyweights. Dak Prescott and the stacked Cowboys would test Tampa’s suspect defense. But never count out playoff Tom Brady in a close one.
NFC Divisional Round
- #1 Eagles vs. lowest remaining seed: The Eagles would be heavy favorites in the divisional round given their play this season. Jalen Hurts and the prolific Philly offense should have little trouble reaching the NFC Championship.
- #2 Vikings vs. highest remaining seed: The Vikings at home would likely be favored against either the 49ers, Cowboys or Bucs. But Justin Jefferson would face a major test against any of those stellar defenses.
- #1 Eagles vs. #2 Vikings: This projected matchup would pit two of the NFC’s most exciting teams. The Eagles have dominated opponents all season, but Justin Jefferson could exploit their secondary. Ultimately, Philly’s balance gives them the edge to advance.
This initial outlook provides plenty of intriguing potential playoff showdowns. As the NFL playoff picture comes into clearer focus, the matchups are sure to get even more exciting heading into the postseason. After a wild regular season, the 2022-2023 playoffs promise to provide thrilling entertainment for football fans.
Frequently Asked Questions About the 2022-2023 NFL Playoffs
When do the 2022 NFL playoffs start?
The 2022 NFL playoffs will kick off with Super Wild Card Weekend on January 14-16, 2023. There will be six playoff games played that weekend.
How many teams make the NFL playoffs?
14 total teams qualify for the NFL postseason – the four division champions from each conference, plus three wild card teams from each conference.
What is the 2022 NFL playoff schedule and format?
The playoffs follow a single-elimination tournament format. After Super Wild Card weekend, the Divisional round will be held January 21-22. The AFC and NFC Championship games take place on January 29. Super Bowl LVII is on February 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
Where can the 2022 NFL playoff games be watched?
The NFL playoff games will be televised nationally on NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC/ESPN, and streamed on their respective apps. Additionally, games can be watched via NFL RedZone, NFL+, DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket, and other TV provider packages.
Who are the current favorites to win Super Bowl LVII?
The top favorites for Super Bowl LVII include the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers. The Chiefs and Eagles have the best current odds at most sportsbooks.
Which teams have already clinched 2022 playoff berths?
Through Week 14, only the Philadelphia Eagles have officially clinched a 2022 NFL playoff spot by securing the NFC East division title. Several other teams are on the verge of punching their postseason tickets soon.
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What happens if two teams tie for a division title or wild card spot?
Tiebreaker procedures are in place to break any ties that happen in the standings. The initial tiebreakers are head-to-head record, division record, common opponents record, and strength of victory.
Can teams with losing records qualify for the NFL playoffs?
Yes, it is possible for sub-.500 teams to reach the playoffs if they win their division. This happened most recently in 2014 when the Carolina Panthers won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record.
What are the current NFL division leaders?
The current division leaders are:
- AFC East – Buffalo Bills
- AFC North – Baltimore Ravens
- AFC South – Tennessee Titans
- AFC West – Kansas City Chiefs
- NFC East – Philadelphia Eagles
- NFC North – Minnesota Vikings
- NFC South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- NFC West – San Francisco 49ers
Which teams are currently holding wild card spots?
The current wild card teams are:
- AFC – Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
- NFC – Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks
Whatclinched playoff berths and current playoff seeds are up for grabs?
The only clinched berth so far is the Eagles as NFC East champs. Every other division title and seeding position is up for grabs. The final two playoff spots in each conference are also wide open.
Which teams are just outside the playoff picture but still alive?
The main teams still in contention include:
- AFC – New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders
- NFC – Washington Commanders, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers
What are some key remaining games that could impact the playoff picture?
Crucial remaining games with playoff implications include: Chiefs vs. Raiders, Bills vs. Dolphins, Cowboys vs. Eagles, Vikings vs. Packers, Buccaneers vs. Panthers, etc. Divisional and conference matchups down the stretch will shape the playoff seeding.
When will the playoff field be finalized?
The 14 playoff teams will be clinched after Week 18 concludes on January 8. There is a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader on January 7-8 that will finalize the brackets.
How important is playoff seeding versus just making the playoffs?
Playoff seeding is extremely important. The top 2 seeds in each conference earn first-round byes. Additionally, hosting playoff games can provide huge advantages. Every seed makes a big difference in the postseason.