The 2022 NFL regular season is nearing the halfway point, and the playoff picture is starting to take shape. With contenders rising and pretenders falling, the race for the postseason is heating up. Which teams are currently projected to make the playoffs and compete for the Lombardi Trophy? Let’s take an in-depth look at the 2022-2023 NFL playoff picture and postseason matchup projections.
AFC Playoff Picture Projections
The Buffalo Bills have asserted themselves as the class of the AFC East. Led by MVP frontrunner Josh Allen, the Bills have a firm grip on the division. Buffalo’s defense has overcome early struggles and is rounding into form. The Bills are poised to capture their third straight AFC East title.
The Miami Dolphins currently hold the AFC’s final wild card spot. Miami has been resilient despite dealing with quarterback uncertainty due to Tua Tagovailoa’s concussion. The Dolphins have impressed but still have work ahead to secure a playoff berth.
The New York Jets have shown promise in the first season under coach Robert Saleh and QB Zach Wilson. While unlikely to reach the postseason, the Jets appear headed in the right direction.
After a hot start, the New England Patriots have stumbled. Struggles on offense and inconsistencies from QB Mac Jones leave the Patriots a long shot for the playoffs.
Despite quarterback turmoil, the Baltimore Ravens lead the AFC North. The defense and run game have carried Baltimore with Lamar Jackson sidelined. If Jackson returns healthy, the Ravens are dangerous.
The defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals have ground to make up after an uneven first half. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase have recaptured their magic. With the offense rolling, the Bengals are poised for a second-half surge.
Injuries have ravaged the Cleveland Browns. With QB Deshaun Watson set to return from suspension, the Browns will try to rescue their season. The climb to the playoffs remains steep.
Ranked last in total offense, the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled mightily. Pittsburgh is transitioning to rookie QB Kenny Pickett. The Steelers’ playoff streak is in serious jeopardy.
Powered by scoring machine Derrick Henry, the Tennessee Titans lead the mediocre AFC South. Tennessee’s offense has carried the team, overcoming defensive shortcomings. The Titans should fend off their rivals and take the division.
Thanks to the emergence of rookie Dameon Pierce, the Houston Texans have been feisty. Still, Houston is clearly rebuilding and not ready for playoff contention.
The Indianapolis Colts shook things up by benching veteran QB Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger. The switch hasn’t sparked a turnaround yet. Indianapolis looks poised for an early offseason.
Hindered by a lackluster offense, the Jacksonville Jaguars have stalled after a 2-1 start. Jacksonville remains a work in progress under new coach Doug Pederson.
The Kansas City Chiefs hold a narrow lead over the rival Chargers in the powerful AFC West. Patrick Mahomes and the offense have been typically prolific. Kansas City remains the team to beat in the AFC.
Despite losing standout edge rusher Joey Bosa, the Los Angeles Chargers are right on the Chiefs’ heels. Justin Herbert and the Chargers’ loaded offense could propel LA to the division crown.
Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos have failed to meet expectations. Denver’s offense ranks near the bottom of the league in scoring. The Broncos face long playoff odds.
Picked by many as a dark horse contender, the Las Vegas Raiders have crumbled. Off-field distractions and poor defense have Las Vegas looking to next season.
NFC Playoff Picture Projections
Powered by backup QB Cooper Rush, the Dallas Cowboys own the NFC’s best record. The dominant defense has carried Dallas while Dak Prescott recovers. The Cowboys appear headed for another division title.
Jalen Hurts has enjoyed a breakout season leading the Philadelphia Eagles. With Hurts playing at an MVP level, Philly has kept pace with Dallas. The Week 16 clash between the Cowboys and Eagles looms large.
After upsetting the Packers in London, the New York Giants have stayed in the playoff hunt. Powerful running back Saquon Barkley has fueled New York’s rise. Rookie coach Brian Daboll has the Giants ahead of schedule.
The Washington Commanders have shown fight behind feisty QB Taylor Heinicke. But Washington lacks the firepower to seriously contend and sits near the bottom of the NFC East.
Despite Aaron Rodgers’ struggles, the Green Bay Packers lead the underwhelming NFC North. Green Bay’s offense has yet to find its rhythm, but the Packers remain well positioned for another division title.
Led by rising star Justin Jefferson, the Minnesota Vikings are firmly in the playoff mix. If QB Kirk Cousins elevates his play, Minnesota could challenge Green Bay.
Hindered by QB questions, the Chicago Bears have sunk near the NFC North basement. Both Justin Fields and the defense have flashed potential for the rebuilding Bears.
The Detroit Lions have been more competitive under coach Dan Campbell. But Detroit still lacks the talent to contend. The Lions should land another premium draft pick.
Despite trading star receiver Calvin Ridley, the Atlanta Falcons surprisingly sit atop the NFC South. A strong rushing attack and stingy defense has Atlanta defying expectations under coach Arthur Smith.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have underwhelmed, struggling to protect veteran QB Tom Brady. But the Bucs have too much talent to count out. Tampa Bay remains the NFC South favorite.
Hindered by QB instability, the New Orleans Saints have sagged after a promising start. The defense has kept New Orleans competitive, but the Saints need more offense.
Saddled with perhaps the NFL’s worst offense, the Carolina Panthers appear headed for a rebuild. With the QB situation unsettled, Carolina’s playoff drought will likely reach four seasons.
The defending champion Los Angeles Rams have endured a Super Bowl hangover. Beset by injuries and ineffective play, the Rams have struggled. But Los Angeles remains dangerous and could surge late.
After trading for Christian McCaffrey, the San Francisco 49ers are positioning themselves for a playoff run. If QB Jimmy Garoppolo steadies the offense, the 49ers will be tough.
QB Geno Smith has authored one of the NFL’s best redemption stories leading the surprising Seattle Seahawks. With Smith playing at a Pro Bowl level, Seattle appears poised to snap its playoff drought.
The Arizona Cardinals continue to underachieve under coach Kliff Kingsbury. Unless Kyler Murray taps into his MVP potential, Arizona is headed for an early offseason.
Early Postseason Matchup Projections
AFC Wild Card Round
5 Chargers at 4 Ravens: Lamar Jackson’s return propels Baltimore past Justin Herbert and Los Angeles.
6 Bengals at 3 Bills: Buffalo’s defense stifles Joe Burrow in rematch of last season’s divisional thriller.
7 Dolphins at 2 Chiefs: Despite Tua Tagovailoa’s progress, Miami can’t keep up with Patrick Mahomes.
NFC Wild Card Round
7 49ers at 2 Vikings: Powered by McCaffrey, San Francisco hands Minnesota another playoff loss.
6 Giants at 3 Eagles: Jalen Hurts outduels Saquon Barkley to advance Philadelphia.
5 Seahawks at 4 Buccaneers: Tom Brady leads Tampa Bay past scrappy Seattle.
AFC Divisional Round
4 Ravens at 1 Bills: Buffalo gets revenge from last year’s loss, ends Baltimore’s surprise run.
3 Chiefs at 2 Bengals: Burrow beats Mahomes again as Cincinnati reaches consecutive AFC title games.
NFC Divisional Round
3 Eagles at 2 49ers: San Francisco’s defense stifles Hurts to reach NFC Championship.
5 Buccaneers at 1 Cowboys: Dallas dominates Brady to exorcise playoff demons.
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AFC Championship Game
2 Bengals at 1 Bills: This time Josh Allen leads Buffalo past Cincinnati to the Super Bowl.
NFC Championship Game
2 49ers at 1 Cowboys: Dallas defeats the 49ers in a thriller to win the NFC.
Super Bowl LVII Projection
AFC Champion Bills vs. NFC Champion Cowboys: In a clash of championship-starved franchises, Buffalo edges Dallas in a down-to-the-wire Super Bowl for the ages. Josh Allen cements his status as one of the NFL’s brightest young stars, winning MVP honors after leading the Bills to their first ever Super Bowl triumph.
The 2022 NFL playoff picture remains fluid with plenty of football left. Injuries, trades, and late surges will reshape the final postseason outlook. But for now, Buffalo and Dallas appear headed for a Super Bowl showdown that could become an instant classic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the current favorites to win the Super Bowl?
The Buffalo Bills are the current Super Bowl favorites followed closely by the Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, and Dallas Cowboys. The Bills have an MVP-level quarterback in Josh Allen guiding one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.
Which teams are currently projected to earn first-round playoff byes?
The Bills, Chiefs, Eagles, and Cowboys currently hold the top seeds in each conference. Barring late collapses, these four teams have the inside track to playoff byes and homefield advantage.
Can the defending Super Bowl champion Rams make the playoffs?
Despite their struggles, the Rams still have enough talent to make a run. However, with the 49ers surging and Seattle improved, the road won’t be easy. Los Angeles likely needs at least 10 wins to secure a wild card spot.
Which division winner is the most vulnerable?
The Titans have only a tenuous hold on the AFC South lead. With QB questions plaguing the Colts, Tennessee is vulnerable to an unlikely division champion like the Jaguars surging late.
What potential playoff team has been the most surprising so far?
The New York Giants were expected to be in rebuilding mode under their new head coach. Powered by Saquon Barkley’s resurgence, the G-men could snap a five-year playoff drought.
The 2022 NFL playoff picture promises to provide thrills. With iconic franchises like the Cowboys, 49ers, Chiefs, and Bills poised for deep postseason runs, the road to Super Bowl LVII in Arizona should be fascinating to watch unfold. Strap in for an intense second half of the NFL season!