The 2022 NFL regular season is heading into the home stretch, and the playoff picture is coming into focus. With several key divisional races and wild card spots up for grabs, the next few weeks will determine the 14 teams that make the postseason.
This comprehensive guide breaks down the current NFL playoff picture, examining the division leaders, wild card contenders, remaining schedules, and projections for each conference. Whether your team is battling for a division title or scrapping for a wild card berth, this article will provide insight into their playoff outlook.
NFC Playoff Picture
The NFC playoff race features tough competition, with 10 teams holding winning records. Here is how the standings look currently and analysis of the division and wild card battles:
The Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) have a firm grip on the NFC East. Led by MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, the Eagles have the best record in the NFL and will likely secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The Minnesota Vikings (9-2) lead the NFC North but face a challenge from the Detroit Lions (4-7) in the coming weeks. The Vikings currently hold the #2 seed and a playoff bye but have several tough games left.
This division remains up for grabs between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6) and Atlanta Falcons (5-7). Tom Brady and the Bucs are favored to recover from their slow start and win the division.
The San Francisco 49ers (7-4) sit atop the NFC West after winning five straight. The Seattle Seahawks (6-5) are battling for a wild card spot. The 49ers will face stiff competition from the Seahawks in this ultra-competitive division.
NFC Wild Card Hunt
With the three division winners earning playoff spots, that leaves three wild cards up for grabs. The Dallas Cowboys (8-3) currently hold the first spot with the New York Giants (7-4) and Washington Commanders (7-5) battling for the last two positions.
The Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Arizona Cardinals remain in striking distance at 6-5. Their playoff fate will hinge on closing strongly and getting help around the league.
AFC Playoff Picture
The AFC playoff race is equally competitive with 12 teams above or at .500 records. Here are the current division leaders and wild card standings:
The Buffalo Bills (8-3) remain atop the AFC East despite star quarterback Josh Allen dealing with an elbow injury. The Miami Dolphins (8-3) are right behind them fighting for a wild card spot. These two rivals face a huge game in Week 15 that could decide the division.
Lamar Jackson has led the Baltimore Ravens (7-4) to first place over the struggling Cincinnati Bengals (7-4). The Ravens hold the tiebreaker for now but still face the Bengals twice down the stretch.
After a slow start, the Tennessee Titans (7-4) have rebounded to take control of the mediocre AFC South. Rookie coach Mike Vrabel has the Titans focused on returning to the postseason.
In the shocker of the NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) trail the Las Vegas Raiders (4-7) in the AFC West. But with MVP frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs are still favored to overtake the struggling Raiders.
AFC Wild Card Hunt
The white-hot Miami Dolphins (8-3) currently hold the first wild card position, followed by the New York Jets (7-4) and Cincinnati Bengals (7-4). With five 8-3 teams in the AFC, the wild card race promises to be a photo finish.
The New England Patriots (6-5) and Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) still have playoff hopes but need to go on a late-season run to sneak in. The Raiders could also contend if they turn their season around quickly.
NFL Playoff Projections and Predictions
Based on the current standings, schedules, and team trajectories, here are my predictions for the 2022-2023 NFL Playoffs:
AFC Playoff Prediction
- Division Winners:
- East – Buffalo Bills
- North – Baltimore Ravens
- South – Tennessee Titans
- West – Kansas City Chiefs
- Wild Cards:
- Miami Dolphins
- Cincinnati Bengals
The Chiefs and Bills seem destined for a playoff rematch. I give the slight edge to KC with Mahomes putting together an MVP season. The Ravens have the defense and rushing attack to make noise, while the red-hot Dolphins could be the sleeper team.
NFC Playoff Prediction
- Division Winners:
- East – Philadelphia Eagles
- North – Minnesota Vikings
- South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- West – San Francisco 49ers
- Wild Cards:
- Dallas Cowboys
- New York Giants
The NFC will run through Philadelphia, where Jalen Hurts is having a breakout season. But never count out Tom Brady and the Bucs. The 49ers and Cowboys are playing the best ball right now and can challenge the Eagles.
Playoff Bracket Prediction
Based on the above picks, here is my prediction for the NFL Playoff bracket:
- Wild Card Round:
- (3) Bengals over (6) Dolphins
- (4) Ravens over (5) Titans
- Divisional Round:
- (1) Chiefs over (4) Ravens
- (2) Bills over (3) Bengals
- AFC Championship:
- Chiefs over Bills
- Wild Card Round:
- (3) Buccaneers over (6) Giants
- (4) 49ers over (5) Cowboys
- Divisional Round:
- (1) Eagles over (4) 49ers
- (2) Vikings over (3) Buccaneers
- NFC Championship:
- Eagles over Vikings
- Super Bowl LVII Prediction:
- Chiefs defeat Eagles
Key Games Remaining
With the playoff picture taking shape, these are the must-see games in the last six weeks that will impact the standings:
- Week 13: Bills at Patriots, Chiefs at Bengals, Vikings at Jets
- Week 14: Eagles at Giants, Vikings at Lions, Buccaneers at 49ers, Chiefs at Broncos
- Week 15: Bills at Dolphins, Giants at Commanders, Bengals at Buccaneers, 49ers at Seahawks
- Week 16: Bengals at Patriots, Ravens at Steelers, Dolphins at Packers, Buccaneers at Cardinals
- Week 17: Bills at Bengals, Dolphins at Patriots, Cowboys at Titans, Vikings at Packers, Rams at Chargers
- Week 18: Patriots at Bills, Buccaneers at Falcons, Rams at Seahawks, Chargers at Broncos
Circle those matchups on your calendar and get your popcorn ready! The playoff push begins now.
NFL Playoff Schedule
Once the playoff field is finalized, here is the schedule for the NFL postseason:
- Wild Card Weekend: January 14-16, 2023
- Divisional Round: January 21-22, 2023
- Conference Championships: January 29, 2023
- Super Bowl LVII: February 12, 2023 in Glendale, AZ
The race to the Lombardi Trophy will feature outstanding playoff games packed with drama and excitement. After a thrilling regular season, the NFL’s second season promises to captivate fans everywhere.
FAQ on NFL Playoff Picture
Still have questions about how the NFL playoff system works or the races taking shape? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How many teams make the playoffs in the NFL?
14 total teams qualify for the NFL playoffs – the 4 division winners plus 3 wild cards from each conference.
What are the NFL playoff tiebreakers?
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head record between tied teams. After that it goes to division record, common opponents record, conference record, strength of victory, strength of schedule, and net points in that order.
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When do the NFL playoffs start in 2023?
The Wild Card round will begin on January 14, 2023. The Super Bowl is scheduled for February 12.
Where is the Super Bowl in 2023?
Super Bowl LVII will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona – home of the Arizona Cardinals.
What happens if teams tie for an NFL playoff spot?
If two teams tie for a division title or wild card spot, tiebreaking procedures are used to determine who advances. First criteria is head-to-head result.
How can a team clinch a playoff berth?
Teams clinch berths by securing division titles or wild card spots, or mathematically eliminating all other contenders in the conference. Different scenarios exist based on records.
Which teams have never made the playoffs?
The Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans have never reached the Super Bowl. The Lions hold the longest active playoff drought entering 2022.
The playoff picture will continuously evolve over the final six weeks of the NFL season. Stay tuned for all the twists and turns as teams battle it out for division titles and wild card spots on the road to Super Bowl LVII!