NFL Playoffs Key Questions Ahead Of The Final 2 Weeks Of The Regular Season

By Ian John
December 27, 2021

In what has been one of the most captivating and unusual seasons in the NFL that I can remember, we enter the final two weeks of this season with still plenty to be decided in both conferences.

In the AFC, the only thing confirmed is that the Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West, after that, there are 13 teams in contention for a spot in the playoffs either as a divisional winner, or as one of the three teams earning a Wildcard spot.

Over in the NFC, things are a bit more settled with five teams confirmed in the playoffs, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the Packers, Cowboys and Buccaneers all confirmed as divisional winners too.

That leave just two more spots in the playoffs up for grabs and there are six teams vying for those coveted positions over the last two weeks of action.

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Let’s now take a look at the playoff situation as it stands in the AFC and NFC after almost all of the Week 16 games. Teams confirmed in the playoffs are shown in italics. Divisional winners are shown in bold.

NFL Playoff Standingshilarious NFL moments


  1. Kansas City Chiefs – 11-4 (Won AFC West)
  2. Tennessee Titans – 10-5 (Leading AFC South – Hold Tie Breaker over Chiefs)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals – 9-6 (Leading AFC North)
  4. Buffalo Bills – 9-6 – (Leading AFC East)
  5. Indianapolis Colts – 9-6 (2nd in AFC South)
  6. New England Patriots – 9-6 (2nd in AFC East)
  7. Baltimore Ravens – 8-7 (2nd in AFC North)

In Contention

  1. Los Angeles Chargers – 8-7 (2nd in AFC West)
  2. Las Vegas Raiders – 8-7 (3rd in AFC West)
  3. Miami Dolphins – 7-7 (3rd in AFC East)
  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – 7-7-1 (3rd in AFC North)
  5. Cleveland Browns – 7-8 (4th in AFC North)
  6. Denver Broncos – 7-8 (4th in AFC West)

Key Issues To Be Resolved In Weeks 17 and 18 In The AFC

AFC North

Any of the four teams in the AFC North could still win the division and/or qualify for the playoffs depending on other results. If the Bengals win out, then they clinch the division, but if the Browns win out and the Ravens lose at least one of their last two, then they clinch the division.

Similarly, the Ravens and Steelers can clinch the division with a couple of wins and results in other games going their way. The Steelers face the Browns on Week 17 and the Browns take on the Bengals and the Ravens the Steelers on Week 18 – two games which will likely decide the outcome of all four teams in the division this season.

AFC East

The Bills and Patriots are going head to head for this division and both have very winnable games for the last two weeks of the season. If the Bills match the Patriots record over that stretch, then they will likely win the title.

The only thing that can stop that is if both the Bills and Patriots lose both their final games and Miami win all their last three (including tonight’s Monday Night game with the Saints),  then the Dolphins would jump to the top of the division, but that does look a very unlikely scenario at this present moment in time.

AFC South

With the Texans and Jaguars already eliminated in this division, this is a straight battle between the in-form Colts and the Titans to win the division. Both teams will feel confident of reaching the post-season given their records, but the Colts need the Titans to lose both their remaining games and the Colts win both, in order to pip their rivals to the AFC Divisional title and the promise of at least one home tie in the playoffs.

One win for the Titans at home to Miami or away at the Texans on the final week of the season will be enough for them to finish top of the division and if they win both and the Chiefs lose one of their remaining two, they could finish as the AFC top seed.

AFC West

With the Chiefs already winning this division, the race is on for the three teams below them to try and clinch a playoff spot. The Chargers and Raiders look most likely to do so, but the Broncos could still cause a surprise, although that does look unlikely.

The Chargers and Raiders face off on Week 18 in what could be a battle to secure a playoff spot.


  1. Green Bay Packers – 12-3 (Won NFC North)
  2. Dallas Cowboys – 11-4 (Won NFC East)
  3. Los Angeles Rams – 11-4 (Leading NFC West)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 11-4 (Won NFC South)
  5. Arizona Cardinals – 10-5 (2nd in NFC West)
  6. San Francisco 49ers – 8-7 – (3rd in NFC West)
  7. Philadelphia Eagles – 8-7 – (2nd in NFC East)

In Contention

  1. New Orleans Saints – 7-7 – (2nd in NFC South)
  2. Minnesota Vikings – 7-8 – (2nd in NFC North)
  3. Atlanta Falcons – 7-8 – (3rd in NFC South)
  4. Washington Football Team – 6-9 (3rd in NFC East)

Key Issues To Be Resolved In Weeks 17 and 18 In The AFC

NFC North

The Packers have wrapped up the North and they will be seeking to secure home field advantage by remaining the top seed in the NFC over the final two weeks of the season.

The Vikings will be pushing for the playoffs but finish with two games against the Packers and Bears, which will be tough, especially with a number of teams on similar or better records around the playoff spots.

NFC East

The Dallas Cowboys have secured this division and the Philadelphia Eagles have moved into the final Wildcard spot with their win this week. The Washington Football Team can still make it into the playoffs but need results to go their way and to win both their remaining games.

The key game in this division looks to be the Washington v Eagles game next week.

NFC South

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have claimed the division and a place in the playoffs as a result, so I do expect them to perhaps rest some of their key men over these final two games of the season.

That leaves the Saints and Falcons battling it out for a potential Wildcard spot although both teams will likely need to win both games in order to stand a chance of that and they face each other in what could be a crucial Week 18 matchup in Atlanta.

NFC West

The Rams and Cardinals have both qualified for the playoffs, but this week the Rams win and the Cardinals third loss in successive games means the Rams have now taken over top spot in the division and need two more wins in their final two games, or to have the same record as the Cardinals, to win the division.

The 49ers are in a strong position for the playoffs, but could need at least one more win from their final two games to ensure a spot and that could come next week against the Texans.

Eliminated Teams (Approximate Draft Order Shown based on Week 16 record)

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)
  2. Detroit Lions (2-12-1)
  3. Houston Texans (4-11)
  4. New York Giants (4-11)
  5. New York Jets (4-11)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (5-10)
  7. Chicago Bears (5-10)
  8. Carolina Panthers (5-10)

The draft order shown above is only based on the record at present and does not take into account any draft picks teams may have received or traded away in the 2022 NFL Draft,


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