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NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets in Week 14

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The NFL playoffs are drawing nearer, but as we enter Week 14 of the 2022 NFL season, no playoff spots have been clinched thus far.

Sure, there are a handful of teams that are pretty much locked into the playoffs. They either have clinching scenarios in Week 14 or it would take something mathematically improbable for them to drop out of the top seven in their respective conferences.

But still, the NFL is unpredictable, and nothing is guaranteed until it becomes official. As such, fans will be paying close attention to playoff-clinching scenarios, the playoff picture in general and seeding across both conferences as they hope their favorite team can challenge for a Super Bowl.

As it stands, the AFC is filled with talented teams that could challenge for playoff spots while the No. 1 seed changed hands in Week 13. That points to a competitive battle on that side of the bracket, and it may not be decided until the final weeks of the season.

The NFC is a bit weaker. Thus, it is clearer who the top teams in that conference will be, but the battles for the NFC South, West and wild cards will be of interest. There is a logjam of solid teams competing for the lattermost spots, and fans of the Giants, Commanders and Seahawks will have a particular interest in the wild-card race this season.

Sporting News makes game picks every week, so those can help you see whether your favorite team’s chances of making the playoffs will improve or lessen in Week 14. Either way, there will be plenty of competition for those final playoff spots, as adding a No. 7 seed in each conference has created much more drama in the last couple of postseason races.

And while a No. 7 seed hasn’t yet won in four chances, it may have a chance to do so this year given how tightly packed each conference and wild-card race figures to be.

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NFL playoff picture: AFC projections

  • No. 1 seed: Buffalo Bills

Games remaining: vs. Jets, vs. Dolphins, at Bears, at Bengals, vs. Patriots

The Bills have recovered from back-to-back midseason losses to the Jets and Vikings to climb back atop the AFC East and the AFC as a whole. They beat the Chiefs head-to-head, so they own the tiebreaker over their 9-3 counterpart, as the two are tied for the AFC’s best record.

  • No. 2 seed: Kansas City Chiefs

Games remainingat Broncos, at Texans, vs. Seahawks, vs. Broncos, at Raiders

The Chiefs continue to be one of the NFL’s best and most consistent teams. Patrick Mahomes is in the MVP discussion despite Tyreek Hill’s absence, and the team has had just one bad loss this season, against the Colts.

The Chiefs might not be as explosive as they once were, but they are still one of the NFL’s top teams. And as long as Mahomes is on the field, they will be a threat to win the No. 1 seed, especially considering that the Chiefs have an easier schedule to finish the season than do the Bills.

  • No. 3 seed: Baltimore Ravens

Games remaining: at Steelers, at Browns, vs. Falcons, vs. Steelers, at Bengals

The bad news: the Ravens are going to have to survive for a little while without Lamar Jackson, who is dealing with a PCL injury. The good news: Tyler Huntley is a capable backup and led the Ravens to a 10-9 win over the Broncos in Week 13. The team’s schedule doesn’t look too daunting, despite there being four divisional games among the five left on Baltimore’s schedule.

  • No. 4 seed: Tennessee Titans

Games remaining: vs. Jaguars, at Chargers, vs. Texans, vs. Cowboys, at Texans

The Titans haven’t been overly impressive this season and have gone just 2-3 in their last five games. They just fired general manager Jon Robinson after a 35-10 blowout loss to the Eagles during which former Titans receiver A.J. Brown had a massive game.

Even despite these struggles, Mike Vrabel has the Titans at 7-5 and the team is well ahead in the AFC South race. Tennessee will look to clinch its third consecutive division title and has a good chance to do it considering that there are two games with the Texans still on their schedule.

  • No. 5 seed: Cincinnati Bengals

Games remaining: vs. Browns, at Buccaneers, at Patriots, vs. Bills, vs. Ravens

The Bengals started the season 0-2, but since then, they have been one of the best teams in the AFC. They are fresh off a third win over the Chiefs in the 2022 calendar year and are pushing the Ravens for the top spot in the AFC North. They haven’t quite overtaken Baltimore yet, since the Ravens own a tiebreaker over them.

  • No. 6 seed: Miami Dolphins

Games remaining: at Chargers, at Bills, vs. Packers, at Patriots, vs. Jets

The Dolphins have been streaky at times this season, but Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill are making a big difference for them. Tua Tagovailoa looks like a solid starter and that should be enough to get the Dolphins into the playoffs as a wild-card team, at a minimum.

Miami was also ahead of the Bills in the AFC East race entering Week 13, so the Dolphins could get back to the No. 1 seed and a top-four seat if things go well for them. They still have to face every team in their division once with their Week 15 game against the Bills being of the most concern to them.

  • No. 7 seed: New York Jets

Games remaining: at Bills, vs. Lions, vs. Jaguars, at Seahawks, at Dolphins

The Dolphins aren’t the only team breathing down the Bills’ neck as they fight to secure the AFC East. The Jets aren’t far behind and have a chance to make up ground on the No. 1 seed in Week 14. The Jets’ offense has been more effective under Mike White than it was with Zach Wilson, so perhaps they can upset Buffalo for a second time this season.

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NFL playoff picture: NFC projections

  • No. 1 seed: Philadelphia Eagles

Games remaining: at Giants, at Bears, at Cowboys, vs. Saints, vs. Giants

The Eagles are the NFL’s lone one-loss team remaining. They have one of the most explosive offenses and a strong defense that has a lot of depth on the defensive line. Philadelphia blew out Tennessee 35-10 in Week 13 and can clinch a playoff birth with a win or a tie against the Giants in Week 14.

  • No. 2 seed: Minnesota Vikings

Games remaining: at Lions, vs. Colts, vs. Giants, at Packers, at Bears

The Vikings have a sizable, five-game lead in the NFC North and need to win just once more to wrap it up. The Lions (5-7) are the only team that can chase them down, and the Vikings are playing them in Week 14. So, with a win, the Vikings would lock down the division.

Despite their 10-2 record, the Vikings have only one a single game by more than one score. That came back in Week 1 against the Packers.

  • No. 3 seed: San Francisco 49ers

Games remaining: vs. Buccaneers, at Seahawks, vs. Commanders, at Raiders, vs. Cardinals

The 49ers are 8-4 on the season and have navigated the season well after Trey Lance’s season-ending injury. Now, they must do the same with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined. Brock Purdy looked good in the 49ers’ 33-17 win over the Dolphins, and he must continue to perform well in that regard with the Seahawks just one game behind San Francisco for the division lead.

  • No. 4 seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Games remaining: at 49ers, vs. Bengals, at Cardinals, vs. Panthers, at Falcons

The Buccaneers have had to pull out a couple of 11th-hour wins against the Rams and, most recently, the Saints, to stay at .500. The 6-6 team has the advantage in the AFC South, which may be the NFL’s worst division, but will need to show some cohesion on offense to consistently compete with playoff teams.

Tampa Bay has a couple of big tests upcoming against the 49ers and Bengals. A win in either will keep the Bucs ahead of the pack in the NFC South. However, if they can’t beat their upper-echelon competition, that could allow the Saints, Panthers and Falcons to get back into the division race.

  • No. 5 seed: Dallas Cowboys

Games remaining: vs. Texans, at Jaguars, at Eagles, at Titans, at Commanders

The Cowboys are, like the Eagles, something of a juggernaut. They boast an excellent defense and an offense that has plenty of weapons from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb to Tony Pollard. They just dropped 54 points on the Colts and still have three games remaining against the AFC South.

The Cowboys would be in the mix for any other division title league-wide. However, they remain behind the Eagles, as Philadelphia beat Dallas in Week 6 and hold a two-game lead over them. Their Week 16 meeting will help to decide, or solidify, the fate of the NFC East.

  • No. 6 seed: New York Giants

Games remaining: vs. Eagles, at Commanders, at Vikings, vs. Colts, at Eagles

The Giants started the season with a 6-1 record but have since gone just 1-3-1 in their last five games. They have a tough schedule to finish the season, as the five teams they are facing have a combined record of 43-17-2. They will need to be at their best to hold onto a wild-card spot.

  • No. 7 seed: Seattle Seahawks

Games remaining: vs. Panthers, vs. 49ers, at Chiefs, vs. Jets, vs. Rams

The Seahawks are one of three teams, along with the Giants and Commanders, that are ahead in the race for two playoff spots. The Seahawks have been up-and-down but Geno Smith has the offense playing at a high level. It’s just a matter of whether the defense can hold up, particularly against the run.

Seattle is fresh off a 27-23 win over John Wolford and the Rams that helped the team leapfrog Washington for the NFC’s No. 7 seed.

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Current NFL playoff picture

Here’s how the standings in both conferences break down entering Week 14, along with the other teams that are still in the playoff hunt. 

Rank Team Record Clinched
1 Bills 9-3 N/a
2 Chiefs 9-3 N/a
3 Ravens 8-4 N/a
4 Titans 7-5 N/a
5 Bengals 8-4 N/a
6 Dolphins 8-4 N/a
7 Jets 7-5 N/a

In the hunt: Patriots (6-6), Chargers (6-6), Raiders (5-7), Browns (5-7), Steelers (5-7)

Rank Team Record Clinched
1 Eagles 11-1 N/a
2 Vikings 10-2 N/a
3 49ers 8-4 N/a
4 Buccaneers 6-6 N/a
5 Cowboys 9-3 N/a
6 Giants 7-4-1 N/a
7 Seahawks 7-5 N/a

In the hunt: Commanders (7-5-1), Lions (5-7), Falcons (5-8), Packers (5-8), Cardinals (4-8), Panthers (4-8), Saints (4-9)


Credit: sportingnews.com

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