Playoff Scenarios: Who’s In & Who’s Out?

January 6, 2022 Playoff Scenarios: Who’s In & Who’s Out?

By: Carlos Alvarez

11 of 14 Playoff Bids Are Secure, But 7 Teams Are Vying for the Last 3 Spots

The first-ever Week 18 in NFL history is about to bring the drama. It’s the playoff before the playoff with teams jockeying for seeding and seven squads fighting for their playoff lives. Three playoff spots are still up for grabs heading into Week 18. The Packers own home field advantage in the NFC, but the AFC’s top spot is still up for grabs between the Titans and Chiefs. We’ve got all the scenarios in play to round out the 2021-22 season.


NFL Playoff Scenarios



1. Packers (13-3)

2. Rams (12-4)

3. Buccaneers (12-4)

4. Cowboys (11-5)

5. Cardinals (11-5)

6. Eagles (9-7)


In the Hunt: 49ers (9-7), Saints (8-8)


NFC Playoff Scenarios: The 49ers get the last wild card spot with a win against the Rams on Sunday. The Saints will get it with a win over the Falcons and a 49ers’ loss.



1. Titans (11-5)

2. Chiefs (11-5)

3. Bengals (10-6)

4. Bills (10-6)

5. Patriots (10-6)


In the Hunt: Colts (9-7), Chargers (9-7), Raiders (9-7), Steelers (8-7-1), Ravens (8-8)


AFC Playoff Scenarios: Things get trickier in the AFC. The Colts are in the driver’s seat and should grab a wild card with a win against Jacksonville. That leaves one remaining spot between four teams, and the Chargers and Raiders play each other with that final spot on the line. The Steelers and Ravens also face each other on Sunday, and the winner could get in if the Jags upset the Colts.


Raiders-Chargers Tie Scenario

Things get really wild if the Jaguars stun the Colts in Sunday’s early matchup. The Chargers and Raiders (8:20 pm ET) could opt to play for a tie — kneel out the entire clock — to stonewall the Ravens-Steelers winner and both reach the playoffs. However unlikely, it’s still a possibility.


Sunday’s Games to Watch

Colts at Jaguars (1:00 pm ET)

Steelers at Ravens (1:00 pm ET)

Saints at Falcons (4:25 pm ET)

49ers at Rams (4:25 pm ET)

Chargers at Raiders (8:20 pm ET)


Additional Storylines

NFL: Projecting All 14 Postseason Teams & Seeding Before Week 18

FOX Sports: NFL Playoff Picture: A Look at the Postseason Heading Into Week 18


Photo: Media News Group via Riverside Press / Getty Images