NFL playoff picture as Week 18 draws to a close

The NFL playoffs are not yet underway.

But in many ways, they began on Saturday night.

Week 18 of the 2src23 NFL regular season began with two critical AFC games, where one team was already in and resting starters, while the other three were fighting for their playoff lives.

In the early game, the Pittsburgh Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Baltimore Ravens. As outlined in our breakdown of all the Week 18 playoff scenarios, the Steelers can get in with either a Buffalo Bills loss to the Miami Dolphins, or a Jacksonville Jaguars loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Then on Saturday night, the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts squared off in a “win and in” game, with the winner clinching a playoff spot, and the loser suffering elimination. The game lived up to the hype and came down to the final minutes, but ultimately the Texans emerged victorious by a final score of 23-19.

Here are how things stand heading into the final day of the 2src23 NFL regular season.

This story will be updated as games go final.


In the postseason

1. San Francisco 49ers (12-5) – z*

2. Dallas Cowboys (12-5) – z

3. Detroit Lions (12-5) – z

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) – z

5. Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) – y

6. Los Angeles Rams (1src-7) – y

7. Green Bay Packers (9-8) – y


8. New Orleans Saints (9-8) – e

9. Seattle Seahawks (9-8) – e

1src. Minnesota Vikings (7-1src) – e

11. Chicago Bears (7-1src) – e

12. Atlanta Falcons (7-1src) – e

z – Clinched division

x – Clinched playoff spot

y – Clinched Wild Card

e – Eliminated

– Clinched homefield advantage

Sunday update after Rams-49ers:

The NFC field is now set. The Cowboys have clinched the NFC East, and the No. 2 seed, with their win over Washington. Detroit slots into the third spot, and the Buccaneers in the fourth spot.

The Eagles are the top Wild Card team, followed by the Rams, who needed their win over the San Francisco 49ers to stay in the sixth spot. The Packers are the seventh seed.

Sunday update after Packers-Bears:

With their win over Chicago, the Packers have clinched a playoff spot.

Sunday early update:

With their 9-src win over the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have clinched the NFC South, and a home playoff game.

The Saints’ win over the Falcons moves them to 9-8 on the season, and they are in the seventh spot at the moment. However, their playoff standing is rather perilous. If the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears, the Packers will vault into the seventh spot, and the Saints would be eliminated. However, if the Packers lose to the Bears, the Seahawks can take that seventh spot away from the Saints with a win over the Cardinals.

The only way the Saints can still get in is if both the Packers and the Seahawks lose.

NFC playoff matchups

Now that the NFC field is set, here are the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys
  • Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
  • Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The San Francisco 49ers have clinched the first-overall seed, and the first-round bye, in the NFC.

The NFC playoff picture will be updated after Sunday’s games. For more now what is at stake Sunday in the NFC, all the playoff and elimination scenarios are outlined here.


In the postseason

1. Baltimore Ravens (13-4) – z*

2. Buffalo Bills (11-6) – z

Remaining game: Bills

3. Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) – z

4. Houston Texans (1src-7) – z

5. Cleveland Browns (11-6) – y

6. Miami Dolphins (11-6) – y

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (1src-7) – y


8. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) – e

9. Indianapolis Colts (9-8) – e

z- Clinched division

x – Clinched playoff spot

y – Clinched Wild Card

– Clinched homefield advantage

e – Eliminated

Sunday update after Bills-Dolphins:

With their win over the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills have won the AFC East. The loss drops the Dolphins down to the sixth seed.

Sunday update following early games:

The AFC playoff field is set.

Final seedings will not be determined until the end of Sunday Night Football, but we know the seven teams that are in, thanks to the Jaguars’ loss to the Titans. With that loss, the Texans are now the AFC South champions and will host the Cleveland Browns on Wild Card weekend.

Jacksonville’s loss also clinched playoff spots for the Steelers and the Bills. Currently, the Steelers are the seventh seed, and the Bills are the sixth seed.

Should Buffalo win tonight, they will jump into the second spot, and the Dolphins will drop into the sixth spot. Pittsburgh would stay in the seventh spot.

Should Miami win tonight, the Dolphins will stay in the second spot. Buffalo would drop into the seventh spot, and the Steelers would climb into the sixth spot.

AFC playoff matchups if the postseason started right now

If the AFC playoffs began today, these would be the three matchups on Wild Card Weekend:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

In the earlier game, the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Ravens. At the moment, Pittsburgh sits in the seventh spot in the AFC, but will need some help to stay there. The Steelers need either a loss by the Bills, or a loss or tie by the Jaguars, to get into the playoffs.

But if both Jacksonville and Buffalo win on Sunday, the Steelers are out.

As for the Texans, at the moment they are in the playoffs as the fourth seed, and winners of the AFC South, thanks to their win over the Colts. To stay there, however, they will need Jacksonville to either lose or tie against Tennessee on Sunday. If Jacksonville wins, however, then the Texans will drop into the seventh spot ahead of Sunday Night Football.

In the scenario where the Jaguars win, a Bills win will keep them in the seventh spot, but if the Bills lose to the Dolphins, then Buffalo is out, the Steelers are in as the seventh seed, and the Texans are in as the sixth seed.

With their loss Saturday night, the Colts are eliminated.

The AFC playoff picture will be updated after Sunday’s games. For more now what is at stake Sunday in the AFC, all the playoff and elimination scenarios are outlined here.


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