With a thrilling overtime win over the LA Chargers, the Raiders won the AFC's last wild-card spot. The San Francisco 49ers won the NFC's final open postseason slot when they took an overtime victory against the LA Rams. As these two games came to their conclusion, the playoff picture for the 2021-22 NFL season was almost completely in focus.
The drama surrounding the final NFL teams was a constant. The postseason drama was still ongoing until Sunday night, when the Las Vegas Raiders defeated the Chargers by a field goal in overtime. This allowed them to win one of two wild card berths at the AFC. It also sends the Chargers home.
The Indianapolis Colts (9-8), who were defeated by the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14) on Sunday, saw the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) sneaking into the playoff field thanks to a win over Baltimore Ravens (9-7-1).
Both the Chargers and Raiders could have made it to the playoffs with a tie. For much of overtime, it looked as though the teams might have been content without a win. As time expired, Daniel Carlson scored a field goal to give Las Vegas victory and a slightly better playoff seeding.
Wild scenarios were the reason for the final game of the season with unusual consequences in the first NFL. The regular season was expanded to 17 games. Five AFC teams participated in the final day of the season. This lasted into the second weekend in 2022.
Both of Saturday's games were played according to their seed. This kept the winners in contention for higher playoff seeding. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos to remain in contention for the AFC top seed.
Although the game between the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles was largely meaningless and unimportant, due to the fact that the Eagles had to rest their starting quarterback Jalen Hurts and had a number of COVID-19-related absences, it did help determine the seedings for both teams in the NFC. The Tennessee Titans are the number-1 seed in the conference by holding off the Houston Texans. This eliminated Kansas City's chances of a top seed and a first-round bye.
The Colts were unable to clinch the AFC after losing to the Jaguars, one of the league's worst teams, in order to secure wild-card berths. Both the Steelers and Ravens would have been out of the playoffs if the Colts had won.
The AFC North had been won by the Bengals (10-6). However, with Kansas City's win Saturday, their playoff seeding was not helped by their matchup against the Cleveland Browns.
The AFC East title was in the hands of the New England Patriots (10-7) and Buffalo Bills (11-6), both of whom had already secured playoff spots. The Bills defeated the Jets (4-13), while the Patriots lost to the Miami Dolphins (9-8), giving the division crown to Bills. This forced the Patriots to travel to Buffalo next weekend.
The Arizona Cardinals (11-6) missed a chance at the NFC West title in their loss against the Seattle Seahawks (7-10). This allowed the Rams (12-5) to win the divisional title.
The victory of the 49ers also saw the elimination of the New Orleans Saints (9-8), who beat the Atlanta Falcons (7-10) on Sunday. It's the first time in five years that the Saints didn't advance to the postseason.
The Green Bay Packers (13-4) had already secured the top seed and a bye in the NFC. The Titans will also have a bye.