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Updated NFL playoff picture: AFC, NFC seed projections

Reported by ESPN:

There are just over six weeks left in the 2023 NFL regular season, but we’re already looking to January and how the 14-team playoff picture could look on the road to Super Bowl LVIII.

After the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football in Week 11, the Eagles were the overwhelming favorites to get the 1-seed in the NFC. That continued in Week 12, when the Eagles beat the Buffalo Bills.

In the AFC, though, the battle for the 1-seed is much tougher, as the Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars all have a chance to get a first-round bye.

Which teams could sneak into the wild-card round of the postseason? And which teams hopes are all but over? We used ESPN’s Football Power Index to project the rest of the season, looking at the playoff picture for both conferences, along with odds for the favorites to make the postseason, clinch the division and even make the Super Bowl. We also have seeding projections for the AFC and NFC, so you can see the most likely matchups in each conference, and an early look at the teams fighting for the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

Here’s everything you need as we get closer to the NFL playoffs (updated on Monday, Nov. 27):

Jump to a section:
AFC: Full projections | Seeding
NFC: Full projections | Seeding
Matchup of the week
Race for the 2024 No. 1 pick

Projecting the AFC playoff field

FPI sees clear favorites in all four divisions in the AFC, and the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals are all on the ropes after Week 12 losses.

The 8-3 Kansas City Chiefs are still on track to get the 1-seed, which comes with a bye until the divisional round. In the opening wild-card round, the 2-seed hosts the 7-seed, the 3-seed hosts the 6-seed and the 4-seed hosts the 5-seed.

Projecting the NFC playoff field

And here’s where things stand in the NFC, which has three divisions all but locked up. The Atlanta Falcons beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 12, but the NFC South race is tight, with FPI giving both teams a 42% chance to win the division.

The 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles have the inside track to get to the 1-seed, which comes with a bye until the divisional round. In the opening wild-card round, the 2-seed hosts the 7-seed, the 3-seed hosts the 6-seed and the 4-seed hosts the 5-seed.

The wild-card race in the NFC is wide open, as seed Nos. 6 and 7 could come from a host of teams. The 5-seed, though, appears likely to be the Dallas Cowboys, who are a long shot to catch the Eagles in the East.

Week 12 game of note

The Chicago Bears could crush the Minnesota Vikings‘ NFC North dreams with a win on Monday night.

The race for the No. 1 pick in 2024

The 2024 NFL draft likely will feature two quarterbacks fighting for the No. 1 spot, as Caleb Williams (USC) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) are ESPN’s top-ranked prospects. Which teams could take them? After Week 12’s Sunday results, the picture has become clearer.

The 3-8 Chicago Bears own the 1-10 Carolina Panthers‘ first-round pick (via last year’s pre-draft trade), and that selection has a 67% chance to land at No. 1, according to FPI. It projects Chicago’s other pick with a 2% chance to land at No. 1.

The 2-10 Arizona Cardinals also have two first-round picks, with FPI projecting their original selection at No. 2 and the 6-5 Houston Texans‘ pick — which was acquired in the move up last April — at No. 21.

NFL playoff schedule

Week 18 games are on Jan. 7 and then it’s on to the postseason. Here’s when each round of games will be played:

Jan. 13-15: Wild-card round
Jan. 20-21: Divisional round
Jan. 28: AFC and NFC Championship Games
Feb. 11: Super Bowl LVIII (in Las Vegas)