The 2022 NFL regular season is heading into the home stretch, and the playoff picture is coming into focus. With several divisions and wild card spots still up for grabs, the postseason matchups remain uncertain. However, we can start projecting what the playoffs and Super Bowl might look like based on the current standings and team trajectories.
AFC Playoff Projections
The Buffalo Bills have firm control of the AFC East at 8-3. They are unlikely to be challenged by the 6-5 Miami Dolphins or 6-4 New York Jets for the division title. Projection: Bills win the AFC East.
This division is still wide open, with the 7-4 Baltimore Ravens, 7-4 Cincinnati Bengals, and 5-7 Cleveland Browns all still in contention. The Ravens and Bengals face off in Week 18 in what could be a winner-take-all matchup. Projection: Bengals narrowly win the AFC North.
The Tennessee Titans lead at 7-4 but have struggled of late. The 6-5 Indianapolis Colts are surging and just beat the Titans head-to-head. This one could come down to the wire. Projection: Colts edge out the Titans for the AFC South title.
The Kansas City Chiefs bounced back convincingly after consecutive losses to take control at 9-2. The 6-5 Los Angeles Chargers are too far back to mount a serious threat. Projection: Chiefs win the AFC West.
AFC Wild Cards
The three teams best positioned for the wild card spots are the Jets, Ravens, and Chargers. The Dolphins and Patriots also remain in wild card contention at 6-5. Projection: Ravens and Chargers claim wild cards. This would set up intriguing 3 vs 6 and 4 vs 5 matchups against the Titans and Bengals.
NFC Playoff Projections
This two-team race between the 9-2 Philadelphia Eagles and 8-3 Dallas Cowboys will likely come down to their Week 16 clash in Dallas. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 26-17 in Week 6. Projection: Eagles hold on to win the NFC East.
This division is still a toss-up between the 5-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 4-7 Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs defeated the Falcons 21-16 in Week 5 but neither team has pulled away since. Projection: Buccaneers win the NFC South.
The Seattle Seahawks lead the NFC West at 6-5 after soundingly defeating the San Francisco 49ers 27-7 in Week 2. The 49ers sit just behind at 6-4. The teams meet again in Week 15 in a pivotal division matchup. The 8-3 Los Angeles Rams are 4 games back but still factor in the wild card race. Projection: 49ers ultimately win the NFC West.
NFC Wild Cards
The Cowboys and 49ers seem likely to claim the two wild card spots at 8-3 and 6-4 respectively. The Seahawks, Commanders, Giants, and Lions remain in contention but face an uphill battle. Projection: Cowboys and 49ers take wild cards. This lines up a spicy 49ers-Rams playoff rematch.
Early Projected AFC Playoff Matchups
| Seed | Team | Record |
| 1 | Kansas City Chiefs | 13-4 |
| 2 | Buffalo Bills | 12-5 |
| 3 | Cincinnati Bengals | 11-6 |
| 4 | Indianapolis Colts | 10-7 |
| 5 | Baltimore Ravens | 10-7 |
| 6 | Los Angeles Chargers | 10-7 |
| 7 | New York Jets | 9-8 |
Wild Card Round:
- Chargers at Colts
- Ravens at Bengals
- Bengals at Chiefs
- Colts/Chargers at Bills
Early Projected NFC Playoff Matchups
| Seed | Team | Record |
| 1 | Philadelphia Eagles | 14-3 |
| 2 | Minnesota Vikings | 12-5 |
| 3 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | 9-8 |
| 4 | San Francisco 49ers | 12-5 |
| 5 | Dallas Cowboys | 11-6 |
| 6 | Los Angeles Rams | 10-7 |
| 7 | Seattle Seahawks | 9-8 |
Wild Card Round:
- 49ers at Cowboys
- Rams at Buccaneers
- Cowboys/49ers at Eagles
- Buccaneers/Rams at Vikings
Projecting the Super Bowl Matchup
Based on the above playoff projections, a potential Super Bowl matchup emerges:
Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers
This would be a rematch of Super Bowl XXV back in 1991, famously decided by Scott Norwood’s missed field goal. The Bills are still seeking their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. The 49ers look to add to their 5 Super Bowl titles.
Josh Allen and the Bills enter as favorites after falling short to the Chiefs in a playoff overtime thriller last season. However, the versatile 49ers and ascending dual-threat QB Trey Lance could present matchup problems. Injuries, playoff nerves, and the inability to play in winter conditions at home could hinder the 49ers. Ultimately, the Bills’ well-rounded roster and Allen’s heroics lead them to finally hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Analyzing Other Super Bowl Possibilities
Here is a rundown of other potential Super Bowl matchups and winners based on the current playoff projections:
- Chiefs vs. Eagles – Mahomes leads Chiefs to repeat
- Chiefs vs. Cowboys – QB duel goes to Mahomes
- Eagles vs. 49ers – Hurts and Eagles outduel 49ers
- Bengals vs. Vikings – Cincy gets revenge for SB XVI loss
- Ravens vs. Buccaneers – Lamar Jackson finally advances to SB
Many permutations are still possible, especially given late-season momentum shifts and injuries. However, the Bills and Chiefs remain favorites to come out of the AFC while the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys hold the best odds in the NFC.
Wild Card and Divisional Round Matchups to Watch
While the Super Bowl possibilities are intriguing, some of the early playoff rounds could feature elimination games for the ages:
- Chargers at Colts – Justin Herbert vs. rising star Jonathan Taylor
- Ravens at Bengals – Rematch of 2022 AFC Divisional thriller
- 49ers at Cowboys – Repeat of epic 2022 NFC Divisional duel
- Rams at Buccaneers – Brady takes on his potential successor in Matthew Stafford
The opening playoff weekends will provide fireworks leading up to a climactic Super Bowl.
Key Factors That Could Shake Up Playoff Picture
As exciting as these projected playoff matchups look on paper, much can change down the final stretch of the regular season. Here are some key factors that could reshape the postseason field:
- Injuries to star QBs – Loss of Allen, Mahomes, Hurts, Jackson would cripple contenders
- Tom Brady’s push – Bucs need late-season surge to claim NFC South
- Division upsets – Jaguars, Lions, Seahawks could go on run
- Surging Giants – 6-2 in last 8, trending toward wild card spot
- Niners QB situation – Lance’s return could elevate San Fran
- Bills, Chiefs stumbles – Neither team has clinched division yet
Teams that get hot and healthy entering the playoffs tend to go on deep runs. Much remains in flux, making the next six weeks must-see TV.
Why the 2022-2023 NFL Playoffs Are Shaping Up as an All-Time Great Postseason
Parity reigns this NFL season, setting the stage for all-time great playoff drama. Consider these factors contributing to 2022-2023 being an instant classic postseason:
- Several Super Bowl-worthy teams in AFC (Chiefs, Bills, Bengals)
- Wide-open NFC without a clear frontrunner
- Multiple exciting young QBs poised for playoff debuts
- Several “Cinderella” teams jockeying for wild cards
- Division races coming down to Week 18
- Number of star-studded playoff rematches from 2022
- Likely close matchups and dramatic endings
With many juicy storylines at play, this NFL postseason has the feel of an instant classic in the making. The loaded AFC could yield early playoff games outshining the Super Bowl. Wild upsets, heroic moments, and last-second heartbreakers feels inevitable.
Strap in for an exhilarating NFL playoff ride this January!
Frequently Asked Questions About the 2022-2023 NFL Playoffs Picture
Who are the favorites to reach the Super Bowl from each conference?
The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are frontrunners to represent the AFC. In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys hold the best odds. However, nothing is certain in a wide-open field.
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What key Week 18 games could impact the playoff picture?
Circle Week 18 division battles with playoff implications: Bengals at Ravens, Cowboys at Eagles, and Lions at Packers. The Bills, Chiefs, and 49ers also face tough finales.
Which teams are currently on the playoff bubble?
In the AFC, the Jets, Patriots, Chargers, and Dolphins are battling for wild cards. In the NFC, the Seahawks, Commanders, Lions, and Giants remain in contention.
Which first-round playoff matchups look most intriguing?
49ers at Cowboys and Chargers at Colts pit exciting QBs against tough defenses. Bengals at Chiefs and Rams at Buccaneers would be epic offensive duels.
Could we see a Bills-49ers Super Bowl rematch from the 1990s?
The Bills and 49ers are both contenders, making a 1990s throwback Super Bowl plausible. It would be a close, entertaining game, with Buffalo potentially finally winning its first ring.
Which underdog team could make a surprise playoff run?
The Giants are starting to peak and play playoff-caliber ball. The Lions or Seahawks could get hot late and go on a run. In the AFC, the surging Jaguars or Patriots could surprise.
What injuries are most concerning heading toward the playoffs?
The shoulder sprain of Josh Allen and concussions for Tua Tagovailoa and Lamar Jackson are worrisome. The returns of Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Ja’Marr Chase could shift the balance of power.
This NFL season has defied predictions and appears primed for a playoffs full of intrigue, drama, and surprise. New stars and veteran contenders alike will duel in hostile environments with Super Bowl dreams on the line. While the Bills and Chiefs remain favorites, nothing is guaranteed. Any one of 10-12 elite teams could realistically hoist the Lombardi Trophy when the dust settles on an all-time classic postseason.