NFL playoff picture after eight weeks, predicting final seeding: Ravens take advantage of remaining schedule – CBSSports.com

The 2022 NFL season is flying by, and it’s about time we start talking about the playoff picture. It feels like just yesterday we were debating if the Kansas City Chiefs were still the best team in the AFC, and who would be the first head coach fired. Much has transpired in eight weeks of the regular season.  

There’s still so much to figure out, however. When will the Philadelphia Eagles lose their first game? Who are the top dogs in the NFC West and NFC South? And can Tom Brady turn the Tampa Bay Buccaneers around? With the trade deadline now in the rearview mirror, this seems like the perfect time to try and predict the playoff seeding following the conclusion of the regular season. Let’s take a look at what the playoff picture could look like in a few months. 

AFC Playoff Picture

Current AFC Seeding Final AFC seeding

1. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)

1. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)

2. Tennessee Titans (AFC South)

2. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West)

3. Baltimore Ravens (AFC North)

4. Baltimore Ravens (AFC North)

4. Tennessee Titans (AFC South)

5. New York Jets

5. Miami Dolphins

6. Miami Dolphins

6. New England Patriots

7. Los Angeles Chargers

7. Los Angeles Chargers

1. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)

1. Buffalo Bills (AFC East)

4. Tennessee Titans (AFC South)

7. Los Angeles Chargers

7. Los Angeles Chargers

The top dogs

Interestingly enough, I have the teams that currently lead their respective divisions in the AFC winning them. However, I do have the Titans dropping down to the four seed. 

Most will probably agree that the Bills, Chiefs and Titans win their divisions. As for the Ravens, it’s true that their defense has struggled, but I really like the Roquan Smith addition. Per Tankathon, the Ravens have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL

The wildcards

I have the Dolphins making the playoffs. Tua Tagovailoa has the highest passer rating in the NFL, Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are a dynamic duo and then the front office went out and acquired pass-rusher Bradley Chubb at the trade deadline. This team is all-in, and I think they have yet to play their best ball. While the Patriots have one of the tougher remaining schedules in the NFL, Rhamondre Stevenson has quickly become one of the best running backs in the league, and the defense is solid. Mac Jones has not played well up to this point, but I expect him to improve. I’m also excited about rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton. I don’t have New England as a legitimate contender, but it could usurp the rival Jets in the playoff picture. 

I have the Chargers holding onto their current playoff spot when it’s all said and done, although they have been disappointing to this point. L.A. was on a three-game win streak before the Week 7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and is now coming off its bye. Maybe Brandon Staley’s squad has a strong second half of the season. The Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are three other teams I’m keeping an eye on. 

Who got the boot?

The Jets got the boot in the AFC. I’m not overreacting to the Week 8 loss to the Patriots, because we all should have seen it coming. New York’s winning formula is running the ball effectively and playing defense. With Breece Hall out for the year and newly acquired James Robinson still getting up to speed, more pressure was going to be placed on quarterback Zach Wilson Sunday — figuratively and literally.

When Wilson feels pressure, things get ugly. He’s only completed 9-of-47 attempts under pressure this season, has been sacked more times than he has completed a pass when under pressure, is the only quarterback in the NFL to complete fewer than 30 percent of his passes under pressure and averages an NFL-worst 3.0 yards per attempt under duress. He completed 48 percent of his passes for 355 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions last week, but it looked much worse than the stat line indicates. With New York’s offensive line injuries, this may be a trend we see more of moving forward — unless Wilson develops in a hurry. 

The Jets had a great start to the season and will be in the running for a playoff spot until the end. Ultimately, I think they miss out on the postseason. 

NFC Playoff Picture

Current NFC Seeding Final NFC seeding

1. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)

1. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)

2. Minnesota Vikings (NFC North)

2. Minnesota Vikings (NFC North)

3. Seattle Seahawks (NFC West)

3. San Francisco 49ers (NFC West)

4. Atlanta Falcons (NFC South)

4. New Orleans Saints (NFC South)

5. Dallas Cowboys

5. Dallas Cowboys

6. New York Giants

6. Seattle Seahawks

7. San Francisco 49ers

7. New York Giants

4. New Orleans Saints (NFC South)

6. Seattle Seahawks

7. New York Giants

The top dogs

I have the Eagles edging out the Cowboys in the NFC East, Christian McCaffrey powering the 49ers past the Seahawks in the NFC West, the Vikings holding onto the NFC North and then the Saints shocking everyone by winning the NFC South! 

What went into my decision? The Saints currently have the No. 5 overall offense, as they average 394.4 yards of total offense per game. Andy Dalton leads what is by far the best offense in the entire division, and he’s been doing it without Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. That is remarkable. The Saints defense hasn’t been impressive so far this season, but I predict that changes. Last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, they didn’t allow the opposing offense to cross midfield until two minutes were left in regulation. Think about that. 

The NFC South is wide open with the Saints, Falcons and, of course, the Bucs. I’ll go out on a limb and choose New Orleans.

The wild cards

Geno Smith and the Seahawks have been arguably the biggest surprise in the NFL this season. They are currently the only team in the NFC West with a winning record, but I’ll knock them down to a wild-card spot due to McCaffrey’s potential impact in San Fran. The Cowboys should make it in with Dak Prescott back in the saddle, and then I’ll give the final wild card spot to the Giants. We are about halfway through the 2022 regular season, and the G-Men have double the victories of everyone outside the current playoff picture minus the 4-4 Washington Commanders. Saquon Barkley is back to elite status, the defense has improved behind Wink Martindale and the team just doesn’t beat itself. The Giants have won four games while trailing in the fourth quarter this season. That ranks No. 1 in the league.

The Bucs, Falcons, Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers are other teams in the NFC I will continue to watch. 

Who got the boot?

The Falcons got the boot in the NFC. They are tied in having the best against-the-spread record this season and are currently fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game (158). I like Arthur Smith, but this offense doesn’t like passing the ball, and the defense is still suspect. Marcus Mariota and Co. absolutely could win the NFC South, but I think I like the Saints more at this juncture.

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