The final week of the NFL season has lived up to expectations.
Week 18 was packed with drama, with several games ending in overtime and a series of surprising upsets that rocked the playoff field. The Colts only needed to beat the Jaguars to play for a Super Bowl, but they were crushed along the way, opening the way for the Steelers, who beat the Ravens in overtime to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Patriots started the week with a chance to win the AFC East, but were instead outscored in the final game by the Dolphins.
Arizona also had a chance to claim the NFC West title, but even though the Rams fell to the 49ers in overtime, the Cardinals lost to Seattle, keeping them in the wild card. Instead, the two NFC West foes will meet in a third playoff meeting as No. 4 seeds vs. No. 5.
There is still the “Sunday Night Football” showdown to determine the final seed in the AFC, but as it stands, here’s a look at how the playoff field is shaping up heading into the final game of the regular season. This post will be updated after the Chargers-Raiders game ends.
NFL Playoff Group 2022
- Tennessee Titans (goodbye)
- Kansas City Chiefs vs. 7. Pittsburgh Steelers OR Las Vegas Raiders
- Buffalo Bills vs. 6. Los Angeles Chargers OR Las Vegas Raiders
- Cincinnati Bengals vs. 5. New England Patriots
- Green Bay Packers (goodbye)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. 7. Philadelphia Eagles
- Dallas Cowboys vs. 6. San Francisco 49ers
- Los Angeles Rams vs. 5. Arizona Cardinals
The NFL playoff field was largely blocked in the NFC heading into Sunday’s game roster with only one spot open. In the AFC, there were two open spots in the playoffs, but as the weekend began, the AFC team’s standings were almost wide open.
Below is the NFL playoff field for 2022:
|two.||Kansas City Chiefs||12-5|
|5.||New England Patriots||10-7|
|6.||Los Angeles Chargers||9-7|
|7.||las vegas raiders||9-7|
Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars
|one.||Green Bay Packers||13-4|
|two.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||13-4|
|Four.||Los Angeles Rams||12-5|
|6.||San Francisco 49ers||10-7|
New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Football Team, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions
AFC playoff pairings
1. Tennessee Titans (first round break)
The Titans received a scare against the Texans on Sunday when Houston scored 25 unanswered points, but Tennessee held on to a 28-25 victory to maintain the No. 1 spot in the AFC. Now, the Titans can rest for a week and await the return of Derrick Henry after the first round break.
2. Kansas City Chiefs vs. 7. Las Vegas Raiders OR Pittsburgh Steelers
Despite a tumultuous season, the Raiders are currently on the playoff scene awaiting the outcome of “Sunday Night Football.” If it holds up, it would be only the second time they have reached the playoffs since losing the Super Bowl in 2002. However, the Chiefs have dominated Las Vegas this season, winning both contests by a combined 89-23.
A loss by the Raiders against the Chargers would mean that the Steelers would play the Chiefs instead.
3. Buffalo Bills vs. 6. Los Angeles Chargers OR Las Vegas Raiders
Buffalo has allowed the fewest passing yards this season and has been one of the best overall defenses in the league. The Chargers, led by Justin Herbert at quarterback, have the fourth-most passing yards in the league and have scored the seventh-most points this season.
A victory for the Raiders would mean that Las Vegas heads to Cincinnati while the Chargers are eliminated. A victory for the Raiders would mean the Patriots would play Buffalo.
4. Cincinnati Bengals vs. 5. New England Patriots
The Bengals are in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. The Patriots are back for the first time since 2019. Bill Belichick has led the New England defense to allow the third-fewest yards and points among NFL teams, But he will have to compete with Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and a high-scoring Bengals offense that scored the fifth-most points in the NFL this season.
NFC playoff pairings
1. Green Bay Packers (first round break)
The Packers secured the No. 1 seed in Week 17 after beating the Vikings to go 13-3, leaving their Week 18 matchup against the Lions as a week to rest and get ready in what was ultimately a failed effort. Now they’ll wait to see who they face in the divisional round at Lambeau Field in two weeks.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. 7. Philadelphia Eagles
The last time Tom Brady faced the Eagles in the playoffs, Nick Foles led Philadelphia to a miraculous 41-33 victory against the Patriots in the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Now with the Buccaneers, Brady hopes to lead Tampa Bay past Philadelphia and Jalen Hurts in the first round of the playoffs. No team rushed for more yards than Philadelphia in 2021, while the Buccaneers led the league in passing yards.
3. Dallas Cowboys vs. 6. San Francisco 49ers
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense lost 51 points to the Eagles at the end of the season as they finished the season as the highest scoring team in the league. But the 49ers are flying high after a dramatic overtime win against the Rams when Jimmy Garoppolo and San Francisco outscored Los Angeles 24-7 in the final two quarters and overtime.
4. Los Angeles Rams vs. 5. Arizona Cardinals
The Rams and Cardinals fought until the final week of the season to determine the NFC West champion, and it was the Rams who held out in the end. Arizona won the first meeting between the two teams, beating Los Angeles 37-20 in Los Angeles in Week 4, but the Rams avenged the loss with a 30-23 victory in Glendale, Arizona, in Week 14.