NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets for Week 18
For the first time in NFL history: Week 18.
There's a few more shufflings that could take place this weekend, but the NFL must be glad with the way the lengthened season worked out: Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, there are still several playoff spots left open in the AFC and one in the NFC, with divisional matchups
There are a few win-and-in scenarios in the AFC: The Chargers and Raiders, though, are in the only winner-take-all game in the league come Sunday night. Elsewhere, the 49ers have to knock off a division rival to get a shot at playoff contention.
Here's how the playoff picture looks entering Week 18:
The Titans just have to beat the lowly Texans in Week 18 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference. That's a tremendous coaching job by Mike Vrabel, who's had to help his team navigate injuries to Derrick Henry, AJ Brown and Julio Jones through the season.
The Chiefs can reclaim the No. 1 seed with a win and a Titans loss. If not, they'll settle into the No. 2 seed in the conference. Their eight-game win streak came to an end at the hands of the Bengals and Ja'Marr Chase, but they still scored 31 points in the effort.
The Bengals handed the Chiefs a big L courtesy of the Joe Burrow-Ja'Marr Chase connection. Chase put together a historic performance vs. KC's defense, going for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 11 catches, an effort that helped the Bengals clinch the AFC North. That's Cincy's first since 2015.
The Bills have a chance to lock up the AFC East with a win over the Jets on Sunday. They should take care of business, even if New York had an admirable performance vs. the Buccaneers in Week 17.
It's kind of hard to believe that the Patriots still have an outside shot at earning the No. 1 seed on Sunday, though they're going to need some help. Mac Jones and the Pats steamrolled the Jaguars in Week 17, so they're still feeling good heading into the season finale.
The formula is simple: It's win and in for the Colts. They have something of an easy path, too, playing the lowly Jaguars on the road. The Jaguars, with the No. 1 overall pick on the line, have absolutely nothing to play for.
The Chargers' up-and-down season comes down to one more game, and all they need to do is, well, win or tie. It might be a daunting task: They're .500 since their Week 7 Bye week. That's no guarantee.
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The Packers have locked up the No. 1 seed in the NFC, earning homefield advantage and a first-round bye. This game could mean more for the Lions, who are "playing" for the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Rams overcame an uneven Matthew Stafford start to down the Ravens in Week 17. Now at 12-4, the NFC West is still on the table for LA heading into the final game of the season.
The Buccaneers were taken to the limit vs. the Jets in Week 17, but Tom Brady had a classic Tom Brady drive to beat his old foe late. The Bucs have the division all locked up.
The Cowboys were on the business end of a missed fumble call late in their matchup vs. the Cardinals in Week 17. That's a tough pill to swallow for the Cowboys, but Mike McCarthy's poor timeout usage reared its ugly head again. Dallas would like to avoid that when they make the dance.
A big road win vs. the Cowboys kept the Cardinals in the NFC West chase. They're going to need a win and a Rams loss to capture a division crown that looked to be guaranteed to the Valley of the Sun earlier in the season.
A massive Week 18 game awaits the 49ers: They play the Rams, which could play into their favor. The 49ers haven't lost to the Rams since 2018. Trey Lance (or Jimmy Garoppolo) has his work cut out for him.
What a strange season it's been for Nick Sirianni and the Eagles, Part 17. The Eagles are already in the playoffs, which is something of a miracle given the
Here's how the standings in both conferences break down entering Week 15, along with the other teams that are still in the playoff hunt.
In the hunt: New Orleans Saints (8-8)