The 2022-2023 NFL season is heating up as teams jockey for playoff positioning with the postseason just weeks away. With division titles and wild card spots up for grabs, the playoff picture is still taking shape. Which teams will make it? What will the postseason matchups look like? This comprehensive guide breaks down the NFL playoff picture and projects the most likely 2022-2023 postseason scenarios.
AFC Playoff Picture Projections
In the AFC, six teams have emerged as frontrunners to clinch playoff berths and contend for a spot in the Super Bowl. Here are the current AFC standings and projected playoff scenarios:
|AFC Playoff Standings||Team||Record|
|1||Kansas City Chiefs||9-2|
|7||New York Jets||7-4|
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs remain atop the AFC standings with their 9-2 record. Led by Patrick Mahomes putting up MVP-caliber numbers, the Chiefs offense is seemingly unstoppable. While their defense remains questionable, the Chiefs are poised to clinch the AFC West division title and secure home field advantage.
Projected Playoff Position: AFC West Champion & #1 AFC Seed
In one of the season’s biggest surprises, the explosive Miami Dolphins have surged to an 8-3 record under new head coach Mike McDaniel. The speedy duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle has transformed the Dolphins into an offensive juggernaut. With a two-game lead over the Bills and head-to-head tiebreaker, Miami is on track to win the AFC East.
Projected Playoff Position: AFC East Champion & #2 AFC Seed
Despite losing star running back Derrick Henry for several weeks, the Titans have managed to stay atop the marginal AFC South at 7-4. They currently hold tiebreakers over the Ravens and Bengals. With remaining games against the Jaguars, Chargers and Texans, Tennessee is the favorite to defend its division title.
Projected Playoff Position: AFC South Champion & #3 AFC Seed
Sitting at 7-4 tied with the Titans, the Ravens hold the edge for the #4 seed with a head-to-head win over Cincinnati. The Ravens have fought through devastating injuries to remain firmly in playoff position. With Lamar Jackson playing at an MVP level, Baltimore’s ground-and-pound offense continues to wear down opponents.
Projected Playoff Position: #4 AFC Seed
Preseason Super Bowl favorites, the Bills have failed to meet huge expectations with an underwhelming 8-3 record. However, they remain alive in a tightly contested AFC East race with the Dolphins. Josh Allen must improve his accuracy and decision-making for the Bills to make a deep playoff run. With remaining games against the Jets, Dolphins and Patriots, the division title remains within reach.
Projected Playoff Position: #5 AFC Seed
After a surprise Super Bowl run last season, Joe Burrow and the Bengals have experienced a slight step back this year at 7-4. However, with weapons like Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon, Cincinnati remains dangerous. With manageable remaining games, the Bengals are well-positioned to return to the playoffs as a wild card team.
Projected Playoff Position: #6 AFC Seed
New York Jets
One of the biggest surprises this season, the Jets have wildly exceeded expectations with their 7-4 start. Led by head coach Robert Saleh, New York boasts a ferocious young defense and punishing ground game. Remaining games against the Vikings, Bills, Lions and Dolphins will determine whether they can hold onto a Wild Card spot.
Projected Playoff Position: #7 AFC Seed
NFC Playoff Picture Projections
The NFC playoff race remains wide open, with 10 teams holding winning records competing for just seven playoff spots. Here are the current NFC standings and projected playoff scenarios:
|NFC Playoff Standings||Team||Record|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||7-4|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5-6|
|6||New York Giants||7-4|
The class of the NFC, the Eagles have soared to a 10-1 record behind MVP candidate Jalen Hurts. With an explosive offense and suffocating defense, Philly has proven to be the most complete team in the NFL. They are firmly on track to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Projected Playoff Position: NFC East Champion & #1 NFC Seed
Under new head coach Kevin O’Connell, the Vikings have rebounded nicely from a disappointing 2021 season. Led by Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, Minnesota boasts an elite offense and improved defense. They are in prime position to win the NFC North.
Projected Playoff Position: NFC North Champion & #2 NFC Seed
San Francisco 49ers
After trading for Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers have emerged as one of the NFC’s most dangerous teams with a 7-4 record. The league’s #1 defense led by Nick Bosa and Fred Warner will make San Francisco a tough out. Remaining games against the Dolphins, Bucs and Seahawks will determine whether they win the NFC West.
Projected Playoff Position: #3 NFC Seed
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s been somewhat of a disappointing title defense for the Bucs at 5-6. But with Tom Brady still playing at a high level, Tampa Bay remains well-positioned to earn a Wild Card spot if they hold off the Falcons and Panthers in the weak NFC South.
Projected Playoff Position: NFC South Champion & #4 NFC Seed
After early struggles, America’s Team has rounded into form with Dak Prescott and the league’s best defense powering them to an 8-3 record. The Cowboys are in a fight with the Giants for the NFC East crown. Their Week 16 clash in Dallas may well decide the division.
Projected Playoff Position: #5 NFC Seed
New York Giants
One of the season’s pleasant surprises, the Giants have ridden Saquon Barkley’s MVP-level campaign to a 7-4 start under rookie coach Brian Daboll. With remaining games against the Eagles, Commanders and Vikings, New York will face a tough path to their first playoff berth since 2016.
Projected Playoff Position: #6 NFC Seed
Quietly putting together a solid 7-5 season, the Commanders currently hold the final NFC Wild Card spot. The improved play of QB Taylor Heinicke has steadied Washington after the Carson Wentz experiment failed. Remaining divisional games against the Giants and Cowboys will determine if they can sneak into the playoffs.
Projected Playoff Position: #7 NFC Seed
NFL Playoffs Matchup Projections
Based on the current AFC and NFC playoff picture projections, here is an overview of the potential matchup scenarios for the 2022-2023 NFL postseason:
Wild Card Round
- NFC: #5 Cowboys vs #4 Buccaneers, #6 Giants vs #3 49ers
- AFC: #5 Bills vs #4 Ravens, #6 Bengals vs #3 Titans
The Wild Card round features several potential iconic matchups including a Cowboys-Bucs playoff rubber match and the burgeoning Giants vs 49ers rivalry. Meanwhile, a Bills-Ravens rematch of their memorable 2020 playoff duel could be an instant classic.
- NFC: #2 Vikings vs lowest remaining seed, #1 Eagles vs highest remaining seed
- AFC: #2 Dolphins vs lowest remaining seed, #1 Chiefs vs highest remaining seed
Barring upsets, the Divisional Round matchups would pit the NFC’s two top teams—the Eagles and Vikings—against Wild Card survivors. Meanwhile in the AFC, the Chiefs and Dolphins have separation from the pack and would host divisional games as the top two seeds.
- NFC: #1 Eagles vs remaining team
- AFC: #1 Chiefs vs remaining team
The projected NFC Championship Game would be a showdown between the conference’s undisputed top two teams, the Eagles and Vikings. In the AFC, the Chiefs could be on a collision course with the Bills, Bengals or Ravens with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
Super Bowl LVII
Projecting who emerges from the AFC gauntlet to face the NFC’s best—most likely the Eagles—in the Super Bowl is too close to call. The Chiefs remain favorites to come out of the AFC. But the Bills, Dolphins, Ravens and Bengals all have compelling cases if they secure key playoff victories.
NFL Playoff Picture Summary
- The Chiefs remain the team to beat in the AFC but face threats from the Bills, Dolphins, Bengals and Ravens.
- The Eagles have separated from the pack in the NFC while the Vikings, 49ers and Cowboys battle for position.
- Division titles are up for grabs in the AFC East, NFC East and NFC West during the final weeks.
- Fierce Wild Card races in both conferences will come down to the wire.
- The NFL playoff field remains very fluid. Teams rising and falling in the standings with each passing week.
It all sets up for a dramatic final month of NFL regular season action. The playoff picture will crystallize in the coming weeks to set the stage for an intense postseason. Football fans are in for an exciting and unpredictable road to Super Bowl LVII!
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Frequently Asked Questions About the NFL Playoff Picture
Who are the current division leaders in the AFC?
The current AFC division leaders are the Chiefs (AFC West), Dolphins (AFC East), Titans (AFC South), and Ravens (AFC North). The Chiefs and Dolphins appear poised to win their divisions, while the AFC South and North remain up for grabs.
What AFC teams are in the best position for a first-round bye?
The Chiefs and Dolphins control the top two seeds in the AFC, meaning they would earn a coveted first-round playoff bye if the season ended today. The Ravens, Titans, Bills, and Bengals are all still alive for a top two seed as well.
Can the Bills still win the AFC East?
Yes. Despite trailing the Dolphins, the Bills still have a chance to overtake them for the AFC East crown. The Bills and Dolphins face off in Buffalo in Week 15 in a pivotal division matchup. Buffalo needs to win that head-to-head battle and their other remaining games to have a shot at the division title.
Which NFC teams have clinched playoff spots?
No NFC team has clinched a playoff berth yet, although the 10-1 Eagles are close to punching their ticket. The NFC playoff picture remains very congested, with 10 teams above or at .500 competing for 7 spots.
Who are the favorites to earn NFC Wild Card spots?
As of now, the favorites to grab the NFC’s three Wild Card spots appear to be the Cowboys, Giants and Commanders. But plenty can change over the final six weeks. The Buccaneers, Seahawks, Falcons, and Lions are all still in Wild Card contention.
Could the Packers or Rams still make the playoffs?
The Packers and Rams both sit two games under .500, but remarkably still have a shot at the playoffs. While their odds are long, if they get hot down the stretch while benefiting from some stumbles by Wild Card contenders, Green Bay or LA could sneak into the mix. But they have almost no room for error.
Why is home field advantage so important in the NFL playoffs?
Home field provides a major edge in the NFL playoffs. Hosting the game allows teams to play in their home stadiums without travel, in front of their rabid fans. Home teams historically win nearly 60% of NFL playoff games. The top AFC and NFC playoff seeds also get byes, allowing them to rest while opponents play in the Wild Card round.
Which teams are the biggest threats to the Chiefs in the AFC playoffs?
Despite holding the AFC’s top seed, the Chiefs face several major obstacles on their quest back to the Super Bowl. The Bills, Dolphins and Bengals could all challenge KC, especially if they secure home field advantage in later playoff rounds. The Ravens and Titans also match up well against the Chiefs and are not to be overlooked.
What are the most likely Super Bowl LVII matchup scenarios?
The most likely Super Bowl scenarios include Chiefs vs. Eagles, Bills vs. Eagles, and Chiefs vs. Vikings. However, the Dolphins, Ravens, Bengals, Cowboys and 49ers are among the teams with realistic shots if they navigate their playoff draws. Much will be determined by which teams prevail in the Wild Card and Divisional playoff rounds.