The 2022-2023 NFL season is heading into the home stretch, and playoff positions are coming into focus. With several weeks left, there is still time for teams to move up or down in the standings and clinch coveted playoff spots and seeding. Let’s take an in-depth look at how the NFL playoff picture is shaping up.
AFC Playoff Standings Projection
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3)
The Chiefs have been the class of the AFC all season behind the stellar play of Patrick Mahomes. Look for them to lock up the AFC’s #1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
2. Buffalo Bills (12-4)
Despite some midseason struggles, the Bills appear poised to capture the AFC East crown and clinch the #2 seed. The Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs connection continues to terrorize defenses.
3. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
Led by MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have rounded into dominant form and are on track to win the AFC North. Their punishing ground game and aggressive defense make them a tough playoff out.
4. Tennessee Titans (10-6)
It’s been an up and down season for the Titans, but they still have the inside track on the AFC South title. Derrick Henry’s return from injury gives their offense a major boost.
5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
The Chargers have served notice that they are true contenders behind Justin Herbert’s emergence. While the Chiefs stand in their way in the AFC West, the Bolts seem destined for a Wild Card spot.
6. Miami Dolphins (9-7)
After trading for Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins have lived up to the hype and are positioned to grab the AFC’s final Wild Card position. Mike McDaniel has Miami playing inspired football.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
The defending AFC champion Bengals have endured bumps in the road, but still have enough firepower to possibly sneak in as a Wild Card. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase remain a formidable duo.
NFC Playoff Standings Projection
1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-2)
The Eagles have been virtually unstoppable behind Jalen Hurts’ MVP-caliber campaign. Expect Philadelphia to clinch the NFC’s #1 seed and have the road to the Super Bowl go through the City of Brotherly Love.
2. Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
Despite starting the season in scorching fashion, the Vikings have cooled a bit down the stretch but still appear destined to win the NFC North. Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook give Minnesota star power.
3. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
After acquiring Christian McCaffrey, the 49ers have hit their stride and are in position to win the NFC West. Their multi-dimensional offense and fierce pass rush make San Francisco a genuine Super Bowl threat.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)
It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Bucs, but with playoff master Tom Brady at the helm, Tampa Bay still seems poised to win the NFC South. The Brady-Mike Evans connection remains lethal.
5. Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
America’s Team has underwhelmed at times but a star-studded roster has Dallas on pace to garner an NFC Wild Card spot. Getting Dak Prescott fully healthy is paramount to their Super Bowl dreams.
6. New York Giants (9-7)
One of the season’s biggest surprises, the resurgent Giants are playing inspired football under rookie coach Brian Daboll. Led by Saquon Barkley’s monster year, New York is positioned to snap its playoff drought.
7. Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
With Geno Smith enjoying a career year, the scrappy Seahawks have defied expectations and are in the postseason mix. If their defense tightens up, Seattle could sneak into the playoffs.
Projected 2022-2023 NFL Playoff Matchups and Bracket
Based on the current AFC and NFC standings projections, here is how the playoff bracket could look:
- Wild Card Round
- (7) Bengals at (2) Bills
- (6) Dolphins at (3) Ravens
- Divisional Round
- Lowest remaining seed at (1) Chiefs
- Highest remaining seed at (1) Chiefs
- AFC Championship
- TBD at (1) Chiefs
- Wild Card Round
- (7) Seahawks at (2) Vikings
- (6) Giants at (3) 49ers
- Divisional Round
- Lowest remaining seed at (1) Eagles
- Highest remaining seed at (1) Eagles
- NFC Championship
- TBD at (1) Eagles
NFL Playoff Picture FAQs
What happens if teams tie in the standings?
If teams are tied in the standings at season’s end, tiebreakers will be used to determine playoff seeding. First tiebreaker is head-to-head record. Subsequently, it goes to division record, common opponents record, conference record, strength of victory, strength of schedule, best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed, best net points in common games, best net touchdowns in all games, coin toss.
Can teams clinch playoff spots before Week 18?
Yes, teams can clinch playoff berths and even division titles before the regular season finale. The NFL structures tiebreaker rules to reward teams that excel during the whole season. If a team has an insurmountable lead in its division or conference, it can clinch early.
How important is playoff seeding for Super Bowl hopes?
Playoff seeding is crucial. The top seed in each conference earns a first-round bye and homefield advantage, which provides a major edge. Higher seeds host playoff games, which is advantageous. Since 1975, 14 of the last 46 Super Bowls have featured the No. 1 seed from each conference.
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Can Wild Card teams advance to the Super Bowl?
Absolutely. Since the NFL expanded to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, there have been 16 Super Bowls featuring at least one Wild Card team. The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers and 2007 New York Giants both won the Super Bowl as Wild Cards. Getting hot at the right time can overcome seeding.
What happens if wild card teams tie?
If two wild card teams are tied, the tiebreakers are head-to-head, division record, and common opponents record. If three or more wild card teams tie, ties are first broken within their own division. Remaining ties are decided by conference record, head-to-head sweep, net result within common opponents, strength of victory, strength of schedule, best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed, and best net touchdowns in all games.
Can a team with a losing record make the playoffs?
It’s rare, but possible if a team wins a weak division. The 2014 Carolina Panthers won the NFC South at 7-8-1. The 2010 Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West at 7-9, then stunningly upset the defending champion Saints in the playoffs. It’s all about getting hot at the right time.
Who has homefield advantage in the Super Bowl?
The designated home team alternates between AFC and NFC each year. For Super Bowl LVII in 2023, the NFC team will be the designated home team. This only affects uniform colors. The site is neutral, usually selected years in advance. Homefield advantage doesn’t apply for the Super Bowl.
The final few weeks of the NFL regular season will determine the playoff field and seeding. The Chiefs and Eagles appear primed to earn the top spots, but several Wild Card races are tightly bunched. Whoever gets into the tournament has a chance to get hot and go on a run. Given the parity in the NFL, any playoff team is a potential threat to win Super Bowl LVII. Buckle up for an exciting sprint to the finish.