With the 2022 NFL regular season in full swing, fans are looking ahead to the playoff picture and potential postseason matchups. This comprehensive guide will examine the current AFC and NFC standings, project the likeliest playoff teams, and analyze the intriguing playoff contests that could unfold.
NFC Playoff Picture
Current NFC Standings and Division Leaders
The NFC playoff race is hotly contested, with several divisions up for grabs. Here are the current NFC standings after Week 7:
- NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)
- NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (5-1)
- NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3)
- NFC West: Seattle Seahawks (4-3)
The Eagles remain the NFL’s only unbeaten team, while the Vikings have surged to claim the North division lead. The Buccaneers lead a competitive South, and the Seahawks hold a slim lead out West.
Projected NFC Playoff Teams
Based on the current standings, these 10 NFC teams are projected to clinch playoff spots:
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Minnesota Vikings
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Seattle Seahawks
- Dallas Cowboys (5-2)
- New York Giants (6-1)
- San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
- Los Angeles Rams (3-3)
- Green Bay Packers (3-4)
- Atlanta Falcons (3-4)
The Eagles and Vikings appear playoff-bound, while the Cowboys and Giants have surprised in the East. The defending champion Rams and Packers are primed for late-season pushes to claim wild card spots.
Notable Teams on the Playoff Bubble
- New Orleans Saints (2-5): Quarterback injuries have plagued the Saints, but the return of Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas could spark a run.
- Arizona Cardinals (3-4): After reaching the playoffs last year, the Kyler Murray-led Cardinals have underwhelmed but remain in contention.
- Washington Commanders (3-4): Led by a feisty defense, the Commanders could challenge for an NFC wild card berth down the stretch.
AFC Playoff Picture
Current AFC Standings and Division Leaders
The AFC playoff race has a handful of expected contenders jockeying for position:
- AFC East: Buffalo Bills (5-1)
- AFC North: Baltimore Ravens (4-3)
- AFC South: Tennessee Titans (4-2)
- AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
The Bills look poised to repeat as East champs, while surprise AFC leader Kansas City has impressed despite trading Tyreek Hill. Mike Vrabel’s Titans lead a weak South division.
Projected AFC Playoff Teams
If the season ended today, these AFC teams would claim playoff spots:
- Buffalo Bills
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Baltimore Ravens
- Tennessee Titans
- New York Jets (5-2)
- Los Angeles Chargers (4-3)
- Miami Dolphins (4-3)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-3)
Rookie coach Mike McDaniel has sparked Miami’s turnaround, while quarterback Joe Burrow guides last year’s AFC champion Bengals. The Jets have been one of the NFL’s most surprising squads under coach Robert Saleh.
Notable Teams on the Playoff Bubble
- New England Patriots (3-4): It’s never wise to count out Bill Belichick, and the Patriots offense has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.
- Indianapolis Colts (3-3-1): Despite trading for Matt Ryan, the Colts have sputtered, but Jonathan Taylor’s elite rushing could key a push.
- Los Angeles Chargers (4-3): Injuries have hampered the Chargers, but Justin Herbert’s stellar quarterback play will keep them firmly in the mix.
Projecting the NFC Playoff Matchups
Based on the current NFC standings, here are the projected playoff matchups:
Wild Card Round:
- (7) 49ers vs. (2) Vikings
- (6) Giants vs. (3) Buccaneers
The 49ers-Vikings matchup would pit two of the NFC’s top rushing offenses against each other. Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux could wreck havoc on Tom Brady’s Bucs.
- (5) Cowboys vs. (1) Eagles
- (3) Buccaneers vs. (2) Vikings
An NFC East clash between the Cowboys and undefeated Eagles would be a ratings bonanza. Tom Brady often thrives in cold-weather playoff games like one at Minnesota.
- (2) Vikings vs. (1) Eagles
An Eagles-Vikings NFC title game would be a rematch of the 2018 conference championship. Minnesota seeks its first Super Bowl berth since 1976.
Projecting the AFC Playoff Matchups
In the AFC, expect fireworks with these potential playoff showdowns:
Wild Card Round:
- (7) Dolphins vs. (2) Chiefs
- (6) Chargers vs. (3) Ravens
Tyreek Hill’s revenge game against his former Chiefs team would be must-see TV. Justin Herbert dueling Lamar Jackson would be a quarterback battle for the ages.
- (4) Titans vs. (1) Bills
- (3) Ravens vs. (2) Chiefs
The Titans ousted the Bills from 2021 playoffs in an epic game. Patrick Mahomes against Baltimore’s stingy defense would spotlight elite units.
- (1) Bills vs. (2) Chiefs
This would be an AFC title game rematch of last year’s instant classic. Josh Allen battling Mahomes again with a Super Bowl berth on the line would be appointment viewing.
6 Key Questions About the NFL Playoff Picture
1. Can the Eagles clinch home-field advantage in the NFC?
The Eagles are the NFL’s last undefeated team, but face a challenging second-half schedule including matchups with the Cowboys, Titans, and Giants. If Philly secures home field, Lincoln Financial Field would be a huge advantage.
Subscribe to our list
Don't worry, we don't spam
2. Will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers bounce back to make the playoffs?
Green Bay has reached the postseason three straight seasons but sit at just 3-4. Rodgers must improve his connection with the young receiving corps to spark a Packers playoff push.
3. Can the Jets or Giants secure a wild card berth?
Thanks to solid defense and coaching, both New York teams have surprised. The Jets likely have the easier path with Zach Wilson progressing. But can the Giants get in with Daniel Jones playing game manager?
4. Who will win the jumbled NFC South?
At 4-3 the Bucs lead now, but the division is still wide open. Brady and the Bucs have plenty of firepower but a tendency to start slowly. Don’t count out the Falcons or Panthers just yet.
5. Do the Ravens have enough weapons to contend in the AFC?
Despite Lamar Jackson’s brilliance, the Ravens lack elite receivers. Trading for a wideout like Brandin Cooks could make Baltimore a true AFC heavyweight.
6. Can the Bengals repeat last season’s playoff success?
After a Super Bowl loss, the Burrow-led Bengals have experienced a bit of a title-game hangover. But if Chase and Mixon hit their stride, this team has the talent to recapture postseason magic.
This NFL season has already provided some stunning twists and turns. As the playoff races heat up, football fans are in for an intense, memorable stretch run. With several divisions and wild card spots up for grabs, the ultimate playoff field remains uncertain. One thing is for sure – the NFL postseason will feature epic clashes between the league’s top Super Bowl contenders.