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Here’s what the NFL playoff picture, clinching scenarios look like going into Week 18

Three playoff berths remain up for grabs heading into the final weekend of the 2021-22 NFL regular season. We break down what to watch in Week 18.

General view as running back Jalen Richard #30 of the Las Vegas Raiders receives a kick off from the Los Angeles Chargers during overtime of the NFL game at Allegiant Stadium on December 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NFL wrapped up Week 17 and the playoff picture took a big step toward getting finalized. There are still three playoff berths left to be earned, and there’s a lot to be cleared up, but we do at least know one of the No. 1 seeds!

NFC playoff picture

The Packers clinched the No. 1 seed with their win over the Vikings combined with the Cowboys loss to the Cardinals. The Packers are likely to rest some of their starters in Week 18 when they travel to face the Lions. We know that three of the top four seeds will also include the Bucs and Cowboys while the NFC West remains up for grabs between the Rams and Cardinals. If LA wins or Arizona loses in Week 18, the Rams are the division champs.

The Cardinals or Rams will hold the top wild card berth and we know the Eagles hold one of the other two wild card berths. The NFC is the simpler of the two conferences heading into Week 18. It’s down to the 49ers and Saints for the final playoff berth.


1. Green Bay Packers, 13-3***
2. Los Angeles Rams, 12-4*
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 12-4**
4. Dallas Cowboys, 11-5**

5. Arizona Cardinals, 11-5*
6. San Francisco 49ers, 9-7
7. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-7*

Outside looking in: New Orleans Saints (8-8)

NFC clinching scenarios

Rams: LA clinches the NFC West with a win or tie, OR if the Cardinals lose or tie.
Cardinals: Arizona clinches the NFC West with a win and Rams loss.

49ers: The 49ers are in with a win/tie OR a Saints loss/tie.
Saints: The Saints are in with a win and a 49ers loss.

AFC playoff picture

Meanwhile, the AFC No. 1 seed remains up for grabs. The Titans moved into first place after the Chiefs lost. Tennessee holds the head-to-head tiebreaker and can clinch the bye and home field advantage with a win. They can clinch with a loss, but need help from the Chiefs, Bengals and Patriots.

The last two wild card berths remain up for grabs and Week 18 could get messy. The Colts, Chargers, and Raiders can all get in with a win. The Chargers and Raiders face off in Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football to close out the regular season, so that should be an exciting one.


1. Tennessee Titans, 11-5**
2. Kansas City Chiefs, 11-5**
3. Cincinnati Bengals, 10-6**
4. Buffalo Bills, 10-6*

5. New England Patriots, 10-6*
6. Indianapolis Colts, 9-7
7. Los Angeles Chargers, 9-7

Outside looking in: Las Vegas Raiders (9-7), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1), Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

AFC clinching scenarios

Colts: If the Colts win, they are in. If the Colts lose, they can clinch a wild card berth with one of the following two scenarios: 1) a Chargers loss, a Steelers loss, and a Dolphins win, or 2) a Chargers loss and a Steelers tie.

Chargers: If the Chargers win or tie with the Raiders, they’re in. If the Chargers lose, they are out.

Raiders: The Raiders are in with a win. Additionally, if the Raiders tie, they get in with a Colts loss. If the Raiders lose, they get in with a Colts loss and a Steelers loss or tie.

Steelers: The Steelers get in with a win, a Colts loss, and Raiders-Chargers not ending in a tie.

Ravens: The Ravens get in with a win, a Colts loss, a Chargers loss, and a Dolphins loss or tie.