NFL Playoff Picture 2022: Official AFC, NFC Clinching Scenarios for Week 17 Released


CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 24: Khalil Shakir #10 and Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills celebrate a two point conversion during the third quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 24, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

While the majority of the 2022 NFL playoff field is already decided, plenty of permutations remain heading into the penultimate week the regular season.

The NFL laid out its postseason clinching scenarios for the upcoming slate of games.

The Buffalo Bills, which have already secured an AFC East title, can claim the top seed in the conference and get a first-round bye if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the Denver Broncos.

Considering the Broncos are coming off a 51-14 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams, the latter half of that equation may not work out in Buffalo’s favor.

The Bengals have plenty to play for themselves, since they’ll win the AFC North if they beat the Bills and the Baltimore Ravens lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cincinnati is the second-hottest team in the NFL, as it carries a seven-game winning streak into Week 17.

Elsewhere in the AFC, the Miami Dolphins will qualify for the playoffs if they take down the New England Patriots and the New York Jets fall to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Dolphins are on a four-game losing streak, though, and they may be without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa when they’re back in action. Head coach Mike McDaniel confirmed Tagovailoa is in the NFL concussion protocol following Sunday’s 26-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Over in the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants and Washington Commanders all have tangible stakes.

The situation is straightforward for Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and New York.

The Eagles will win the NFC East and earn the top seed with a win. The same is true if the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings all lose.

For the Bucs, they’re one win away from taking the NFC South since they own the head-to-head tiebreaker on the New Orleans Saints.

The Giants’ five-year playoff drought could come to an end if they earn a victory over the slumping Indianapolis Colts. Their clinching scenarios don’t stop there, with three other potential roads to get to the postseason.

Losses for the Commanders and Seahawks will get them there, as will defeats for the Commanders, Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. Should Detroit, Seattle and Green Bay all lose, New York is in then, too.

The Commanders need the most help. Not only is a win over the Cleveland Browns required, but the Lions, Seahawks and Packers all must also lose. Washington is occupying the final wild-card place in the NFC at 7-7-1, and the battle for the seventh seed looks likely to go down to the wire.

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