2022 NFL Playoff Picture, Bracket, and Schedule: Will the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Chiefs advance?

With the NFL playoff race over and the picture finalized, how does the NFL playoff bracket work, and what are the Wild Card games scheduled?

The 2022 NFL playoff picture has crystallized and the bracket for the next few weeks has taken shape. Let’s examine how the final playoff picture shaped up, the schedule for the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend, and what it means for the different paths teams may take on the way to Super Bowl 56. Who won the race for the bye in the NFL playoffs, and who is facing a long winding path on the road if they want to win it all?

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2022 NFL Playoff Picture

With 18 weeks of the 2021 NFL season in the books, the playoffs are now upon us. Here’s how the final NFL playoff picture stacks up as the race for the Super Bowl continues for 14 teams.

AFC Playoff Picture

*x — clinched playoff berth, y — clinched bye week, z — clinched division

1. y — Tennessee Titans (12-5)
2. z — Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
3. z — Buffalo Bills (11-6)
4. z — Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
5. x — Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
6. x — New England Patriots (10-7)
7. x — Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)

NFC Playoff Picture

*x — clinched playoff berth, y — clinched bye week, z — clinched division

1. y — Green Bay Packers (13-4)
2. z — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
3. z — Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
4. z — Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
5. x — Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
6. x — San Francisco 49ers (10-7)
7. x — Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

NFL Playoff Bracket

The NFL playoff bracket is a fluid process based on the results of Wild Card Weekend. The NFL adjusts the bracket at each week of the playoffs to ensure that the highest-seeded team entering the playoffs always faces the lowest remaining team in their conference.

With the playoff picture for the 2022 NFL playoffs now set, let’s examine how the bracket shapes up at each stage of the playoffs in both the NFC and AFC.

AFC Playoff Bracket

Here is the bracket in the AFC for Wild Card Weekend:

  • (7) Steelers vs. (2) Chiefs
  • (6) Patriots vs. (3) Bills
  • (5) Raiders vs. (4) Bengals

The bracket for the Divisional Round will be set following this weekend. The lowest remaining seed will travel to Tennessee to face the Titans. Meanwhile, the highest seed that wins in Wild Card Weekend will host the second-lowest seed.

What this means in terms of the NFL playoff picture is that the Titans cannot face the Chiefs or Bills if they win this weekend. It also means that, no matter what happens, neither the Patriots nor Steelers will host in the Divisional Round.

Here is what the bracket looks like as it stands entering Wild Card Weekend:

  • Steelers/Patriots/Raiders/Bengals vs. (1) Titans
  • Second-lowest seed vs. Second-highest seed

NFC Playoff Bracket

Here is the bracket in the NFC for Wild Card Weekend:

(7) Eagles vs. (2) Buccaneers
(6) 49ers vs. (3) Cowboys
(5) Cardinals vs. (4) Rams

The bracket for the Divisional Round in the NFC will be set following this weekend. The lowest remaining seed will travel to Green Bay to face the Packers. Meanwhile, the highest seed that wins in Wild Card Weekend will host the second-lowest seed.

What this means in terms of the NFL playoff picture at large is that the Packers cannot face the Buccaneers or Cowboys if they win this weekend. It also means that neither the 49ers nor Eagles will host in the Divisional Round no matter what happens.

Here is what the NFC’s Divisional Round bracket looks like as it stands entering Wild Card Weekend:

  • Eagles/49ers/Cardinals/Rams vs. (1) Packers
  • Second-lowest seed vs. Second-highest seed

NFL Playoff Schedule | Wild Card Weekend

Here is the schedule for Wild Card Weekend of the 2022 NFL playoffs (all times Eastern):

Saturday | January 15

Raiders at Bengals | 4:35 PM | NBC
Patriots at Bills | 8:15 PM | CBS

Sunday | January 16

Eagles at Buccaneers | 1 PM | FOX
49ers at Cowboys | 4:30 PM | CBS/Nickelodeon/Amazon
Steelers at Chiefs | 8:15 PM | NBC

Monday | January 17

Cardinals at Rams | 8:15 PM | ABC/ESPN

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN

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