The 2022 NFL regular season is heading into the home stretch, and the playoff picture is coming into focus. With under a month left, the jockeying for playoff seeding and postseason positioning is intensifying across both conferences.
In this comprehensive guide, we analyze the current NFL playoff picture, project the likeliest postseason matchups, and handicap the Super Bowl contenders.
AFC Playoff Picture
The AFC playoff race features several powerhouse teams vying for the top seeds and homefield advantage. Here are the current standings and an outlook on the potential matchups:
Current AFC Playoff Standings
| Seed | Team | Record |
| 1 | Kansas City Chiefs | 9-2 |
| 2 | Miami Dolphins | 8-3 |
| 3 | Tennessee Titans | 7-4 |
| 4 | Baltimore Ravens | 7-4 |
| 5 | Buffalo Bills | 8-3 |
| 6 | Cincinnati Bengals | 7-4 |
| 7 | New York Jets | 7-4 |
The Kansas City Chiefs remain atop the AFC with the best record in the conference at 9-2. Led by MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs offense continues to dominate behind a vastly improved defense.
Despite dropping two straight, the Miami Dolphins currently hold the crucial 2nd seed at 8-3. With electric playmakers like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, Miami has the firepower to compete with anyone. The key will be consistency from Tua Tagovailoa.
After trading AJ Brown, few expected the Tennessee Titans to be playoff contenders. But they have defied expectations behind the power running of Derrick Henry. At 7-4, the Titans have a tenuous hold on the 3rd seed.
The Baltimore Ravens have battled injuries all season but remain firmly in the mix at 7-4. With Lamar Jackson playing at an MVP level, the Ravens can beat anyone when healthy. Securing the 4th seed and homefield advantage would be massive.
Despite early struggles, Josh Allen has the red-hot Buffalo Bills surging at 8-3. With an elite defense and dangerous pass rush, the Bills may be the most complete AFC contender outside of Kansas City.
Even with Ja’Marr Chase missing games, Joe Burrow has kept the 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals right in the hunt to repeat as AFC Champions. With weapons like Chase, Tee Higgins and Joe Mixon, this team remains dangerous.
And the New York Jets continue to impress under head coach Robert Saleh. At 7-4, the Jets possess the conference’s best defense led by Sauce Gardner. Zach Wilson’s development could determine this team’s ceiling.
Projected AFC Playoff Matchups
Based on the current standings, here are the likely AFC playoff matchups:
| Matchup | Projected Winner |
| (7) Jets @ (2) Dolphins | Dolphins |
| (6) Bengals @ (3) Titans | Bengals |
| (5) Bills @ (4) Ravens | Bills |
| (4) Ravens @ (1) Chiefs | Chiefs |
| (3) Bengals @ (2) Dolphins | Bengals |
| (1) Chiefs vs (2) Bengals | Chiefs |
The Dolphins should be able to hold off the Jets for the 2nd seed given their explosiveness. The Bengals have the edge over the banged up Titans. And the Bills appear poised to earn the pivotal 4th seed over the Ravens.
That would set up another epic Chiefs vs Bengals AFC Championship Game rematch. And with Mahomes playing at an all-time level, the Chiefs would be favored again to come out on top. But Burrow and the Bengals showed last year they have the formula to take down Kansas City.
NFC Playoff Picture
The NFC playoff race remains wide open, with 10 teams still vying for spots. Here is how the standings currently look:
Current NFC Playoff Standings
| Seed | Team | Record |
| 1 | Philadelphia Eagles | 10-1 |
| 2 | Minnesota Vikings | 9-2 |
| 3 | San Francisco 49ers | 7-4 |
| 4 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 5-6 |
| 5 | Dallas Cowboys | 8-3 |
| 6 | New York Giants | 7-4 |
| 7 | Washington Commanders | 7-5 |
The Philadelphia Eagles have been the class of the NFC, dominating with the best record at 10-1 behind the breakout duo of Jalen Hurts and AJ Brown.
Despite minimal fanfare, the Minnesota Vikings have quietly earned the 2nd seed at 9-2 thanks to the stability of Kirk Cousins.
It’s been a rollercoaster year for the 49ers between injuries and QB uncertainty. But their ferocious defense has kept them afloat at 7-4. Whether they stick with Jimmy G or turn to Trey Lance could decide their fate.
After reports of turmoil between Brady and coaching, the Buccaneers have been perhaps the league’s biggest disappointment at 5-6. But with Brady and talent across the roster, they can’t be counted out yet.
The return of Dak Prescott has the formidable Dallas Cowboys back on track at 8-3. With difference makers like CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, Dallas remains a serious threat.
One of the league’s most pleasant surprises, the New York Giants are 7-4 after not being expected to contend. Brian Daboll has this young squad playing hard and believing.
And Ron Rivera has kept Washington in the mix at 7-5 despite upheaval at QB between Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. The defense led by Chase Young and Daron Payne will keep them competitive.
Projected NFC Playoff Matchups
Based on the current NFC standings, below are the projected playoff matchups:
| Matchup | Projected Winner |
| (7) Commanders @ (2) Vikings | Vikings |
| (6) Giants @ (3) 49ers | 49ers |
| (5) Cowboys @ (4) Buccaneers | Cowboys |
| (4) Cowboys @ (1) Eagles | Eagles |
| (3) 49ers @ (2) Vikings | 49ers |
| (1) Eagles vs (3) 49ers | Eagles |
The Vikings should have enough firepower to get past Washington at home. The 49ers’ physicality gives them the edge over the Giants. In an enticing playoff rematch, the red hot Cowboys appear poised to knock out Brady and the Bucs.
That would setup a game-changing NFC East battle between the Cowboys and Eagles for the 4th seed. The Eagles have proven to be a cut above Dallas this season and should defend home field.
And the 49ers match up exceptionally well against the Vikings, giving them a great shot at the upset to reach the NFC Championship Game. There, the Eagles and their complete roster would be favored to book a trip to the Super Bowl.
But nothing is set in stone, and teams like the Bucs, Cowboys and 49ers have championship pedigrees that can’t be discounted. The NFC playoff races promises to deliver excitement until the very end.
2022-2023 NFL Playoffs Overview
Taking a big picture view, here is an overview of the full 2022-2023 NFL playoff bracket:
| AFC Playoffs| | | NFC Playoffs | | |
| Wild Card Round | | | Wild Card Round | | |
| (7) Jets @ (2) Dolphins| Dolphins | | (7) Commanders @ (2) Vikings | Vikings |
| (6) Bengals @ (3) Titans | Bengals | | (6) Giants @ (3) 49ers | 49ers |
| (5) Bills @ (4) Ravens | Bills | | (5) Cowboys @ (4) Buccaneers | Cowboys |
| Divisional Round | | | Divisional Round | | |
| (4) Ravens @ (1) Chiefs | Chiefs | | (4) Cowboys @ (1) Eagles | Eagles |
| (3) Bengals @ (2) Dolphins | Bengals | | (3) 49ers @ (2) Vikings | 49ers |
| Championship Round | | | Championship Round | | |
| (2) Bengals @ (1) Chiefs | Chiefs | | (3) 49ers @ (1) Eagles | Eagles |
| Super Bowl LVII | | | | | |
| AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion | | | Eagles vs. Chiefs | Eagles |
Super Bowl LVII Prediction
An Eagles vs Chiefs showdown in Super Bowl LVII would be a blockbuster quarterback matchup between Hurts and Mahomes. Both have led MVP campaigns putting up video game numbers.
But the Eagles appear to have the more complete all-around team. AJ Brown has perfectly complemented DeVonta Smith to give Hurts two lethal receivers. And Haason Redick, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox lead a nasty Eagles pass rush to complement a stout secondary.
With difference makers on both sides of the ball, the Eagles match up exceptionally well against the Chiefs. And with homefield advantage in Arizona, the Eagles would be slight favorites in a thrilling Super Bowl LVII over the Chiefs.
Of course, the NFL playoffs are notoriously unpredictable. Any of these projected matchups could easily go the other way. And injuries or late surges from teams like San Francisco, Dallas, Cincinnati or Buffalo could change the landscape entirely.
But as the 2022 regular season approaches the finish line, the Eagles and Chiefs have distinguished themselves as the most likely Super Bowl LVII contenders in a playoffs that promises to deliver breathtaking excitement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is currently projected to get the 1 seed in each conference?
The Kansas City Chiefs are currently projected to earn the 1 seed in the AFC, while the Philadelphia Eagles are expected to clinch the NFC’s 1 seed. The Chiefs and Eagles possess the best records in their respective conferences and have consistently dominated opponents all season long.
Which teams are currently on track to earn first round byes?
The four division winners earn playoff seeds 1-4, which come with first round byes. If the season ended today, those byes would go to:
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- Kansas City Chiefs
- Miami Dolphins
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Minnesota Vikings
What AFC teams are currently in line for wild card spots?
The three AFC wild card spots are currently projected to be earned by the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, and New York Jets. Each team is 7-4 or better on the season.
What NFC teams are currently projected to make the playoffs as wild cards?
The San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Commanders are on pace to clinch the three NFC wild card spots. The race remains tight though, with the Giants and Seahawks also in contention.
Which matchup is most likely to determine homefield advantage in the AFC?
The week 14 Sunday night showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins could ultimately decide who earns homefield throughout the AFC playoffs. If the Dolphins win, they would own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Which matchup looks most critical for NFC playoff seeding?
The week 16 Saturday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles could go a long way in deciding the NFC East along with playoff positioning. The Eagles won the first meeting and will be favored to sweep the season series at home.
Which underdog team could make a surprise playoff run?
The New York Giants are a team to watch as a potential surprise playoff contender. Led by Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, they play in a weak NFC East. If they secure a wild card spot, their running game and defense could make them a tough out.
As the final quarter of the NFL regular season approaches, the playoff picture is coming into focus. The Chiefs and Eagles have set themselves apart in the AFC and NFC respectively. But nothing is decided yet, with jockeying for division titles, wild card spots and seeding sure to come down to the wire.
Injuries, late surges or collapses, and intra-division showdowns will ultimately determine the 12 playoff teams and seeding scenarios. This figures to spark heated playoff rematches and dramatic upsets that should provide no shortage of excitement on the NFL’s road to Super Bowl LVII.