As we approach the final week of the 2022/23 NFL regular season, the playoff picture is becoming clearer and clearer. Currently, 11 of 14 spots are filled, as various other teams will battle it out in Week 18 to try and land a Wild Card Spot.
Here are the teams who have already secured playoff spots:
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers
San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Giants
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
Las Vegas Raiders
Los Angeles Rams (who officially have the worst season for a reigning Super Bowl Champion in NFL history)
As things stand this is the current NFL playoff picture, factoring the favorites of the upcoming Week 18 games.
Although, there are plenty of other ways that the playoff picture can pan out. It does get a little complicated, so I would highly recommend checking out ESPN's playoff simulator, where you can see the effect of each game as you select the outcomes. - 2022 NFL Playoff Machine - Simulate Matchups and Scenarios - ESPN
Here are a few things you should know before we dive into the playoff scenarios:
Bills-Bengals cancellation implications
First, let's address the cancellation of the Bills-Bengals game and the potential outcomes of the NFL's decision.
The NFL will conduct a special league meeting on Friday 6th January to consider a resolution recommended by commissioner Roger Goodell and approved on Thursday by the competition committee.
The cancellation now means that Buffalo and Cincinnati will finish with 16 games played, while the other 30 teams will each have played 17.
If the Bills and/or Bengals advance to the AFC championship game — and if they could have hosted it (if not for the cancellation) — the title game will now be held at a neutral site.
There are 3 scenarios that could occur:
Scenario 1: Buffalo and Kansas City both win or both tie — a Buffalo versus Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Scenario 2: Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Baltimore wins or ties — a Buffalo versus Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Scenario 3: Buffalo and Kansas City both lose and Cincinnati wins — a Buffalo or Cincinnati versus Kansas City championship game would be at a neutral site.
Bengals may lose home-field advantage to coin toss
With the NFL ruling the postponed Bills vs. Bengals game a no-contest, the Bengals have secured the AFC North title and that usually guarantees home-field advantage... But one detail changes everything: If the Bengals lose to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, that would mean a coin toss for which team gets to host the wild card game if they meet again.
This is the NFL's way of giving the Ravens something for the fact the Bengals took the AFC North due to a no-contest ruling, especially because a Ravens win would mean they swept the Bengals this season. But, understandably, Bengals fans aren't too pleased with the decision.
Anyway, onto the more normal playoff scenarios...
AFC South title
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) clinch with: win/tie vs. Titans
Tennessee Titans (7-9) clinch with: win at Jaguars
No. 7 seed wild card
New England Patriots (8-8) clinch with: win at Bills OR Dolphins loss vs. Jets AND Steelers loss vs. Browns AND Jaguars win vs. Titans
Miami Dolphins (8-8) clinch with: win vs. Jets AND Patriots loss at Bills
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) clinch with: win vs. Browns AND Dolphins loss vs. Jets AND Patriots loss at Bills
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) clinch with: loss vs. Titans AND losses by Dolphins, Patriots and Steelers
No. 1 seed
Philadelphia Eagles clinch NFC No.1 seed with any of the following:
Win/tie vs. Giants
Cowboys loss/tie at Commanders
49ers loss/tie vs. Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers clinch with any of the following:
Win vs. Cardinals + Eagles loss vs. Giants
Dallas Cowboys clinch with any of the following:
Win at Commanders + Eagles loss vs. Giants + 49ers loss/tie vs. Cardinals
NFC East title
Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) clinch with: win vs. Giants OR Cowboys loss at Commanders
Dallas Cowboys (12-4) clinch with: win at Commanders AND Eagles loss vs. Giants
No. 7 seed wild card
Green Bay Packers (8-8) clinch with: win vs. Lions on Monday Night football.
Detroit Lions (8-8) clinch with: win at Packers AND Seahawks loss/tie vs. Rams, OR tie vs. Packers AND Seahawks loss vs. Rams, OR tie vs. Packers AND Rams-Seahawks tie AND Commanders win vs. Cowboys
Seattle Seahawks (8-8) clinch with: win vs. Rams AND Packers loss/tie vs. Lions, OR tie vs. Rams AND Lions-Packers tie AND Commanders loss/tie vs. Cow