NFL News & Analysis

2022 NFL Playoff Picture: Los Angeles Chargers boost playoff odds to 97% with a Week 16 win over the Indianapolis Colts

Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Now that there are just three weeks remaining in the 2022 NFL season, it’s time to start looking forward to the playoffs.

Each week, PFF will present current and projected playoff pictures, focusing on the teams that look set and the way forward for the teams on the outside.

Current AFC playoff standings

  1. Buffalo Bills (11-3)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (10-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (7-7)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (9-5)
  6. Los Angeles Chargers (8-6)
  7. Miami Dolphins (8-6)

Current NFC playoff standings

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  6. New York Giants 87-5-1)
  7. Washington Commanders (7-6-1)

Playoff Projections

Naturally, it’s unlikely the playoff picture will remain constant over the remainder of the season. And that’s why it makes sense to look at the projected playoff picture — the estimated chances PFF gives each team to make the playoffs.

The following charts show the projected playoff chances for each team alongside the playoff leverage, i.e., how the playoff chances would change with a win or loss.

The logos show the current playoff chances. The points to the right of the logos indicate the chances after a win, and the points to the left indicate the chances after a loss.

AFC PLAYOFF CHANCES

NFC PLAYOFF CHANCES

TEAMS WITH THE MOST AT STAKE IN WEEK 16

Team Chances with win Chances with loss Leverage
Washington Commanders 68% 25% 43%
Seattle Seahawks 61% 19% 42%
Los Angeles Chargers 97% 60% 37%
Detroit Lions 52% 15% 37%
New England Patriots 40% 11% 29%
New York Jets 35% 9% 26%

The NFC South, AFC South and AFC North division races

There are three open division races in the NFL right now: the NFC South, AFC South and AFC North. Here is how the odds stack up in the NFC South:

And this is how the AFC North is supposed to shake out:

These are the odds in the AFC South:

Home-field advantage

The dream of a perfect season is over for the Eagles. Still, home-field advantage is practically the highest achievable goal in the regular season anyway. Still, Jalen Hurts & Co. still have a good chance of earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The following teams are most likely to finish with the best record in their respective conference:

Beasts from the East

Few people would have seen this coming, but as of now, the NFC East is sending all four teams to the playoffs, while the AFC East has a chance to send three.

The NFC East sends three playoff teams in 94% of our simulations. The AFC East sends three teams into the playoffs 17% of the time.

The East divisions are also the most likely divisions to send all teams to the playoffs. Our simulations see this happening 29% of the time for the NFC East. AFC East teams have lost too many games out of the division in recent weeks to make this happen, as all four teams make the playoffs in less than 1% of our simulations now.

Riding a losing record into the playoffs?

Every team in the NFC South is currently below .500. The chance that it stays this way — i.e. the NFC South winner ends up being 8-9 or worse — is currently 75%, according to our simulations. The only team that could get to nine wins is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they need to win out to make this happen.

Thanks to the emergence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and the struggles of the Tennessee Titans, we could see another division winner with fewer than nine wins, as there is a 31% chance that a losing team wins the AFC South. In these cases, this would be the Titans (61%), Jaguars (38%) or Indianapolis Colts (1%). 

Most likely playoff matchups

The following matchups are most likely to happen in the wild-card round:

  • Cowboys at Buccaneers (happens 72% of the time)
  • Giants at Vikings (43%)
  • Giants at 49ers (38%)
  • Ravens – Bengals (23%)

The following matchups are most likely to happen at any point in the playoffs:

  • Cowboys at Buccaneers (72%)
  • Giants at Vikings (44%)
  • Giants at 49ers (41%)
  • Vikings – 49ers (44%)
  • Cowboys – Eagles (37%)
  • Bills – Chiefs (37%)
  • Bills – Bengals (37%)
  • Chiefs – Bengals (37%)

The following matchups are most likely to happen in the conference title games:

  • Chiefs – Bills (29%)
  • 49ers – Eagles (27%)
  • Vikings – Eagles (18%)
  • Bengals – Chiefs (14%)
  • Bengals – Bills (15%)
  • Cowboys – Eagles (11%)
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