NFL Week 18 AFC playoff picture: How the Ravens, Chargers, Raiders, Colts and Steelers can make the postseason


Entering the final week of the regular season, five AFC teams have secured a postseason berth: the Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. Two playoff spots are still up for grabs and there are five remaining teams in the AFC fighting for the final spots. In order of their current rankings, the Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will put their playoff hopes on the line in Week 18. Let’s take a closer look at the NFL Week 18 AFC playoff picture. Plus, check out final scores and standings from Week 18  here.

How can the Chargers make the playoffs?

The Chargers and Raiders have the potential to be part of one of the stranger playoff-clinching scenarios in recent memory when they face off on Sunday Night Football. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC with Football Night in America. The match-up will also be available via live stream on Peacock.

If the Chargers defeat the Raiders on Sunday night, they will advance to the postseason. The Chargers have posted a 3-3 record in their last six matchups while the Raiders have won three straight games since falling to the Chiefs, 48-9, in Week 14. The last time these two teams met in Week 4, the Chargers won, 28-14, in Los Angeles.

But there is also a scenario in which a tie would result in a playoff berth for both teams. If the Colts lose to the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon, both the Chargers and Raiders would clinch a playoff berth with a tie and the teams could hypothetically choose to kneel on every play to run out the clock.

Chargers head coach Brandon Staley dismissed this possibility on The Rich Eisen Show earlier this week: “I think we all respect the game and the NFL shield and the integrity of this game far too much to be complicit in something like that…We’re going to do everything we can to go win this game, and play the way we’re capable of playing.”

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) (at 9-7 Las Vegas Raiders)

Los Angeles Chargers clinch playoff berth with:

1. LAC win or tie

RELATED: When is Super Bowl 2022: Date, time, halftime show, location

How can the Raiders make the playoffs?

For the Raiders, there are three scenarios in which they can secure a playoff berth on Sunday. Just like the Chargers, the Raiders can advance to the postseason with a win on Sunday night or a Colts loss and tie vs. the Chargers. The Raiders can also make the playoffs even if they lose to the Chargers with help from other teams. A Colts loss to the Jaguars and a Steelers loss to the Ravens would allow the Raiders to advance to the postseason.

Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) (vs. 9-7 Los Angeles Chargers)

Las Vegas clinches playoff berth with:

  1. LV win OR
  2. LV tie + IND loss OR
  3. IND loss + PIT loss or tie

RELATED: NFL Week 18 NFC Playoff Picture: What is the path to the postseason for the 49ers and Saints?

How can the Steelers make the playoffs?

After defeating the Cleveland Browns on Monday night, the Steelers still have an outside chance to earn an AFC wild card spot in the playoffs. Pittsburgh’s chances at winning the division were extinguished when the Cincinnati Bengals upset the Kansas City Chiefs, 34-31, to win the AFC North title. Three things need to happen in order for the Steelers to advance to the postseason. First, they have to defeat the Ravens to improve to 9-7-1 on the season. Then, the Colts need to lose to the Jaguars and the Chargers-Raiders game cannot end in a tie.

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1) (at 8-8 Baltimore Ravens)

Pittsburgh clinches playoff berth with:

  1. PIT win + IND loss + LV-LAC game does not end in a tie

How can the Colts make the playoffs?

After losing to the Raiders last Sunday, the Colts fell to 9-7 on the season. There are three different ways in which the Colts can advance to the postseason. The simplest way is that they need to defeat the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday afternoon. The Colts are highly favored against a 2-14 Jaguars team, but they have not won a game in Jacksonville since 2014.  Jacksonville has also some recent success against Indy. In the Jaguars’ past 33 games, they are 2-2 against the Colts and 2-27 against everyone else.

If the Colts are upset by the Jaguars on Sunday, two other scenarios can give them a playoff berth: a Chargers loss and a tie between the Ravens and Steelers OR losses by both the Chargers and Steelers and a Dolphins win.

Indianapolis Colts (9-7) (at 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars)

Indianapolis clinches playoff berth with:

  1. IND win or tie OR
  2. LAC loss + BAL-PIT tie OR
  3. LAC loss + PIT loss + MIA win

How can the Ravens make the playoffs?

Meanwhile for the Ravens, who currently occupy the No. 10 seed in the AFC, their playoff chances are slim after losing their fifth straight game last week. In order to advance, the Ravens will be tasked with defeating the Steelers in what is expected to be Ben Roethlisberger‘s final game. Baltimore also needs three other scenarios to play out: a Chargers loss to the Raiders and a Colts loss to the Jaguars and a Dolphins loss or tie to the Patriots.

Baltimore Ravens (8-8) (vs. 8-7-1 Pittsburgh Steelers)

Baltimore clinches playoff berth with:

  1. BAL win + LAC loss + IND loss + MIA loss or tie

Week 18 NFL Picks and Power Rankings

Mike Florio and the team at ProFootballTalk have broken down their picks and power rankings for Week 18. They have Aaron Rodgers and the 13-3 Green Bay Packers at the top of the list. Click here to see where the rest of the league falls as we enter the final week of the regular season.

Current 2021 NFL Playoff picture

2021 AFC Standings

Tennessee Titans (11-5) – clinched division title

Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) – clinched division title

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) – clinched division title

Buffalo Bills (10-6) – clinched playoff berth

New England Patriots (10-6) – clinched playoff berth

Indianapolis Colts (9-7)

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

On the bubble:

Las Vegas Raiders (9-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7-1)

Baltimore Ravens (8-8)

2021 NFC Standings

Green Bay Packers (13-3) – secured No. seed

Los Angeles Rams (12-4) – clinched playoff berth

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4) – clinched division title

Dallas Cowboys (11-5) – clinched division title

Arizona Cardinals (11-5) – clinched playoff berth

San Francisco 49ers (9-7)

Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) – clinched playoff berth

On the bubble:

New Orleans Saints (8-8)

For all the latest fantasy football news and insight, visit NBC Sports Edge.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for breaking news, updates, and much more!

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

13. Dak Prescott (DAL)

12. Kirk Cousins (MIN)

11. Daniel Jones (NYG)

10. Matthew Stafford (LAR)

9. Deshaun Watson (CLE)

8. Aaron Rodgers (NYJ)

7. Jalen Hurts (PHI)

6. Trevor Lawrence (JAX)

5. Lamar Jackson (BAL)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!