2022 NFL Playoff Picture Scenarios & Final Bracket: Raiders Beat Chargers to Clinch Spot; Steelers Sneak In Last Spot
Getty Images. Pictured: Raiders WR Hunter Renfrow scores against Chargers
You didn’t expect the first ever Week 18 to go as expected, did you?
Chaos broke out across the 2022 NFL playoff picture. In the AFC, that was thanks to the Jaguars — they beat the Colts, the Steelers beat the Ravens, and the AFC was officially a mess. Then in the NFC, the 49ers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to beat the Rams in overtime to clinch a postseason berth. But when the Cardinals couldn’t take advantage, the Rams still held on for the NFC West.
Following overtime in the final game of the regular season, we finally have our answers.
Let’s take a closer look at the official brackets with Week 18 — and the regular season — coming to an end.
NFL Playoff Picture, Scenarios
Latest AFC Playoff Bracket
Final AFC Update
It came down to the final possession in the final game of the regular season to decide the AFC playoff picture.
Update At Sunday Night Football Halftime
The Raiders led the Chargers, 17-14, at halftime of the regular-season finale.
The winner will move onto the playoffs — and officially clinch the Steelers their berth – while the loser will watch their season end, but it gets real interesting if this ends in a tie. If that happens, the Steelers would be eliminated while the Chargers and Raiders would both punch their postseason tickets.
Update After Late Afternoon Games
The Buffalo Bills clinched the AFC East with a win over the Jets and took over the No. 3 seed officially as a result.
The Bengals will be the No. 4 seed thanks to winning the AFC North. The Patriots fell to 10-7 on the year after a loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
The Raiders, Chargers and Steelers are the three teams looking to fill the last two spots.
Whoever wins between the Chargers and Raiders is in along with the Steelers. However, if Sunday Night Football ends in a tie, the Steelers are out and Los Angeles and Las Vegas are in.
Update After Early Afternoon Games
All the Colts had to do to clinch a playoff spot was beat the Jaguars as 15-point favorites. Of course, that didn’t happen, and neither did the other scenarios they needed to stay alive — now Indianapolis is officially out.
The Steelers rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Ravens, 16-13, in overtime to effectively clinch a spot. As long as the Chargers and Ravens don’t tie on Sunday night, the Steelers are in.
The Titans beat the Texans to clinch the only bye week in the AFC with the No. 1 overall seed. The Chiefs will be the No. 2 seed.
The Bengals lost to the Browns without Joe Burrow and multiple starters. That means Cincinnati will be the No. 4 seed in the AFC and likely play the Patriots at home next weekend.
Final NFC Playoff Bracket
Final NFC Update
There was a big shift in seeding in the NFC and the final spot clinched as a result.
With the 49ers win over the Rams, San Francisco locked up the No. 6 seed and final remaining playoff spot. The Rams fell from the No. 2 seed to No. 4.
The Buccaneers moved up to No. 2 after beating the Carolina Panthers. The Dallas Cowboys are No. 3.
The Cardinals could’ve clinched the NFC West but lost outright to the Seattle Seahawks.
The matchups are now official.
Update After Early Afternoon Games
The only NFC playoff team playing in the early window was the Green Bay Packers. The loss to the Lions did not change seeding, just their record.
The main action takes place on the late afternoon slate.
Saturday Night Update
Updated AFC Playoff Bracket
The race for the AFC’s No. 1 seed is now between the Titans and Chiefs.
The Chiefs hold the top spot after a 28-24 win over the Broncos on Saturday night. However, if the Titans beat the Texans on Sunday they’ll take back home field and the No. 1 seed.
The Titans and Chiefs already clinched their division crowns, while the Bengals wrapped up the AFC North, leaving the AFC East as the only division to-be-determined in Week 18.
The Bills would be the AFC East champions with a win over the Jets or a Patriots loss to the Dolphins. But the Patriots would win the division with a win over the Dolphins and a Bills loss to the Jets. Both the Bills and Pats already clinched playoff berths.
The Colts, Chargers, Raiders, Steelers and Ravens are vying for the remaining two spots.
The Colts have the easiest route, needing only a win over the Jaguars as 15-point favorites to clinch a spot with their 10th win (check real-time NFL odds here). If the Colts lose, they would still be in with losses by the Chargers, Steelers and Patriots or a Chargers loss and a Steelers-Ravens tie.
The Raiders and Chargers are playing what is basically an elimination game as whichever team wins the Sunday Night Football game clinches a spot. Both could still technically clinch a berth with a tie, though only if the Colts lose.
The road is more difficult for the Steelers and Ravens. The Steelers need a win paired with a Colts loss and either a Raiders or Chargers win. The Ravens need a win and losses by the Chargers, Colts and Dolphins.
Updated NFC Playoff Bracket
Saturday Afternoon Update
There’s not as much to figure out in the NFC. The Packers clinched the No. 1 seed while the Bucs took the NFC South and Cowboys won the NFC East. The Eagles wrapped up one wild-card spot; the non-division winner of the NFC West will get another.
That leaves the NFC West crown and one wild-card slot open.
The Rams are in control in the NFC West. A win over the 49ers, and the Rams are the division champion. They can also seal the title with a Cardinals loss to the Seahawks.
The Cardinals, though, would win the division with a win over the Seahawks and a Rams loss.
The NFC’s last remaining wild-card spot is in San Francisco’s hands. If the 49ers upset the Rams, they’ll have the final spot. The 49ers are also in with a Saints loss or tie with the Falcons. And if the Saints beat the Falcons and the 49ers lose to the Rams, the Saints are in.
According to simulations based on our expert Travis Reed’s model — which helps power our NFL PRO Projections — the 49ers have a 63% chance of making the playoffs. The Saints Orleans is projected for a 43% chance.
On Saturday night, the Cowboys and Eagles played for seeding. With the Dallas win, the Cowboys have an 80% chance of taking the No. 4 seed. Philadelphia has a 62% chance of being the No. 7 seed.