AFC & NFC Playoff permutations ahead of a pivotal Week 18

Derek Carr
Derek Carr and the Raiders are in a must-win situation. Photo from Still Curtain.

It’s amazing how clear the NFL playoff picture for Week 18 in 2022 looks compared to last week.

But while most of the spots in the latest NFL playoff bracket are spoken for, the positions are far from locked in just yet. There are still plenty of Week 18 meaningful games to be played with NFL postseason permutations. 

NFL Playoff picture Week 18

Heading into Week 18, there are teams fighting over the last few playoff spots while other teams are still jockeying for position, hoping to secure a division crown or even the top seed in each conference.

With several meaningful games left on the schedule, let’s take a closer look at the NFL playoff picture for Week 18 in 2022 so that everyone knows what’s at stake in the final week of the regular season.

AFC

There was a little bit of a shakeup in the AFC last week with the Chiefs losing, allowing the Titans to gain control of the top seed. With a win this week over the Texans, Tennessee will clinch the no. 1 seed and get a first-round bye. Meanwhile, the Bengals joined the Titans and Chiefs as division champions, ensuring at least one home playoff game.

Things are still yet to be decided in the AFC East. The Bills still control their own destiny, so a win or a New England loss will give Buffalo the division crown for the second straight year. That means the Patriots need to beat the Dolphins and hope the Bills lose to the Jets to win the AFC East. Of course, if both teams win this week, there’s a chance they could meet in the Wild Card Round next week anyway.

If nothing else, the Patriots have secured one of the Wild Card spots, so they will be playing next week no matter what. The Colts also have a chance to play their way into the postseason. Despite losing to the Raiders last week, if Indy can just beat Jacksonville, the Colts will be in the playoffs. That leaves the final Wild Card spot to the winner of Sunday’s game between the Chargers and Raiders.


However, there could be chaos if the Colts somehow lose to the Jaguars. That would allow the Ravens and Steelers a glimmer of hope. Those two teams play each other in Week 18 and both need a win and a lot of help to get to the postseason.

Read more: Why did the NFL introduce a 17-game regular season? 

NFC

We know with certainty that the path to the Super Bowl in the NFC runs through Lambeau Field. The Packers have wrapped up the top seed, giving them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a bye next week.

We also know the Buccaneers and Cowboys will have home games next week as division winners.

However, the NFC West is yet to be decided. The Rams remain in the driver’s seat after a dramatic road win last week. But the Cardinals also won last week to keep the pressure on Los Angeles. With a win, the Rams clinch the division crown while the Cardinals need a win and for the Rams to lose.

As for the Wild Card spots, the Cardinals/Rams will have one spot while the Eagles have solidified another spot.

The final spot will come down to the 49ers and Saints. Against all odds, New Orleans is still alive. But the Saints need a road win over the Falcons this week combined with the 49ers losing to the Rams. A San Francisco win or a New Orleans loss will be enough to send the 49ers to the playoffs.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 268 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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