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NFL playoff chances: Who's in and who's out by Week 18?

NFL Playoff Picture 2022, Scenarios, Predictions and more.
NFL playoff chances: Who's in and who's out by Week 18?


You are in luck if you are a team like the New York Giants in Week 18.

The Giants are the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Their series lead cannot change because they have already secured a playoff position. It is a relatively low-stress week before playoff pressure sets in.

Other teams are much less certain. Let's analyze the standings situations because the last week of the NFL season puts a lot on the line.

The NFC East is still in the balance.

The Dallas Cowboys still have a chance to win the NFC East and clinch the series lead after the Philadelphia Eagles' second consecutive loss. The Eagles will play the Giants in the championship game with nothing at stake. If the Eagles win, they will be the NFC East champions and the top seed. If the Cowboys lose to the Washington Commanders, they will have secured the division. 

Related: 2023 NFL Playoffs: 49ers vs. Seahawks Wild-card Round Predictions

The San Francisco 49ers' chances of capturing the top seed are greatly improved. If the Eagles lose and the 49ers defeat the visiting Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers will be the division lead. If the Cowboys win and the Eagles and 49ers lose, Dallas will be the seed and receive a bye. The Eagles would be the highest seed in the playoffs if the Cowboys and 49ers lose.

The NFC playoff scenario will be quite clear if the Eagles defeat the Giants. There are other variables to consider if the Eagles lose.

Most of the NFC's top seeds are in play.

The fourth seed is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants are in sixth place. All that is locked in is this.

The No. 2 seed could still be Vikings, Cowboys, 49ers or Eagles. The No. 2 seed most likely is the 49ers. If both they and the Eagles win, they will get it. The Cowboys or Philadelphia could get the No. 2 seed if the Eagles lose. If the 49ers lose and the Vikings defeat Chicago, the latter would get the No. 2 seed.

The No. 3 seed (who will play against the sixth-ranked Giants in the wild-card round) may not be the Eagles or Cowboys, but the Vikings or 49ers.

The No. 5 seed in the NFC East will go to the team ranked second behind the Eagles and Cowboys. We will talk about the No. 7 seed shortly.

Again, things become quite simple if the Eagles win. In case Philadelphia loses, anarchy will ensue.

NFC No. 7 seed

It is easy to determine who will be awarded the NFC's final wild-card. The Green Bay Packers will qualify if they defeat the Detroit Lions. The Seattle Seahawks will be eligible if they defeat the Packers. Detroit will be admitted if the Seahawks lose and the Lions defeat the Packers.

Two divisions of the AFC remain in play.

With a win Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals could clinch the AFC North. If they lose, the division champion will be determined by the outcome of the Bengals-Baltimore Ravens game in Week 18.

The winner of the Tennessee Titans-Jacksonville Jaguars game on Saturday night will take home the AFC South title and the No. 4 seed. There is a chance that a loss would still allow the Jaguars to secure a wild-card spot.

The AFC South seed.

Seeding will be heavily influenced by the Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game on Monday night. The Bills would be the top seed should they win. The Kansas City Chiefs can clinch the No. 1 seed if the Buffalo Bills lose one of their last two games.

With a Bills loss and a win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, the Chiefs will secure the top seed. The Bengals will be the higher seed if they prevail and the Chiefs lose. With a win Monday night, the Bengals would overtake the Bills in the race for second place.

The Ravens would be the No. 3 seed if they win the AFC North.

NFL wild card

After Sunday night's loss to the Ravens, the Los Angeles Chargers are now the No. 5 seed. With a win in Week 18, the Chargers would be the No. 3 seed if they won the AFC North. With a win in Week 18, they will clinch this spot and play against the AFC South champion instead of a member of the trio of Bills, Bengals or Chiefs on wild card weekend. In the event of a tie, the Chargers will triumph over the Bengals or Ravens.

The Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers or Jaguars will get the No. 7 seed in the AFC. The Patriots, who must win to advance, will face the Buffalo Bills in Week 18. The Dolphins can secure the spot with a win over the New York Jets if the Patriots drop the ball. The Steelers can clinch the final wild-card slot with a victory over the Cleveland Browns if the Patriots and Dolphins both lose.

The Jaguars are the No. 7 seed if the Patriots lose to the Bills, Dolphins lose to the Jets, Steelers lose to the Browns, and the Jaguars lose to the Titans.

The Patriots would drop to No. 7 if the Jaguars won the AFC South and the Dolphins, Steelers, and Patriots all lost.

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NFL Playoff Chances

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