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

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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!

Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

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It’s Patrick Mahomes vs Tom Brady this Sunday night on NBC and Peacock as the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) head to Raymond James Stadium to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) in a rematch of Super Bowl 55. See below for additional information on how to watch the big game between the greatest of all time and the heir to the throne.

RELATED:  How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

Mahomes is currently in his fifth season as the Chiefs starting quarterback. The 2019 Super Bowl MVP signed a 10-year, $450 million extension in July 2020, which was the richest contract in American sports history by total value. Over the last four seasons (2018-2021), Mahomes has led the league in both passing yards (18,707) and touchdown passes (151). The 27-year-old looks to lead the Chiefs to their seventh straight AFC West Title. Kansas City is the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

At 45 years old Tom Brady, who already holds 7 Super Bowl titles–the most in NFL history, is currently playing in his 23rd NFL season–one that many thought he wouldn’t see after an unpredictable offseason filled with rumorsretirement, and unretirement. But the greatest of all time is back–this time without the comfort of his longtime trusted TE Rob Gronkowski–and is not only facing the challenge of playing with a banged-up offensive line but is also adjusting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

This Sunday night’s game will mark the sixth meeting between Mahomes and Brady. The previous five matchups have been both high-stakes and high-scoring affairs as Brady holds a slight advantage over Mahomes. Here are all of their head-to-head matchups.

Every past matchup between Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes (3-2 overall record):

  1. Oct. 14, 2018 (Week 6) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 43-40. Brady threw for 340 yards and 1 TD. Mahomes threw for 352 yards, 4 TD, and 2 INT.
  2. Jan. 20, 2019 (AFC Championship Game) – Patriots defeated the Chiefs 37-31, in overtime. Brady threw 348 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT. Mahomes finished with 295 YDS, and 3 TD
  3. Dec. 8, 2019 (Week 14) – Chiefs defeated the Patriots 23-16. Mahomes totaled 283 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Brady had 169 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
  4. Nov. 29, 2020 (Week 12) – Chiefs beat the Buccaneers 27-24. Mahomes threw for 462 yards with 3 TD. Brady finished with 345 yards, 3 TD, and 2 INT.
  5. Feb. 7, 2021 (Super Bowl 55) – Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9 playing on their home field at Raymond James Stadium. Brady threw for 201 yards and 3 TD and was named Super Bowl MVP for a record 5th time.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023

In an interview with NBC’s Maria Taylor for Football Night in America, Mahomes discusses the trademarks of a Brady-led team.

“First off, they take advantage of mistakes,” Mahomes said. “If you make a mistake on the field, if I throw an interception or if you fumble, or if something like that happens, he’s going to make you pay and get points on the board and then he’s going to manage the game.”

Mahomes also knows that while Brady has a knack for capitalizing on mistakes, he does not often make many of his own.

“He’s going to make some plays when he needs to make plays, but at the same time he’s not going to make that big mistake. So you have to go out there and play a near perfect football game to win. Another thing, he’s never out of it and I think that’s something I try to pride myself on as well is never being out of the game. So whenever you play against a Tom Brady-led team, you make sure you keep that foot down on the pedal and try to do whatever you can to finish the game off.”

Patrick Mahomes absorbs Tom Brady’s lessons

Despite the difference in age and experience, Brady and Mahomes are alike in their impact on the game.

“You want to not like Tom but he’s just like the best guy,” Mahomes said. “So it’s hard to not like him, but to be able to play in golf tournaments, and him give me kind of advice and stuff like that. I mean, he’s the GOAT. You want to learn from the best and it’s really cool to have that relationship with him.”

Even when Brady and Mahomes have faced off in high-stakes postseason games, the advice continues. The two met in the 2019 AFC Championship game, when Brady was still playing for the New England Patriots. Both quarterbacks delivered stellar performances, but Brady managed to lead the Patriots to an overtime victory.

Following this loss, Mahomes tells Taylor that he is upset and spends a lot of time after the game sitting in the locker room. But when Mahomes finally walks out, Brady is waiting for him.

“He could be celebrating” Mahomes said. “He’s going to the Super Bowl and everything like that, and all he said to me, ‘Hey, just keep doing it how you’re doing it. You’re doing it the right way.’ And as a young quarterback, you just go out there and play and try to have fun and do whatever you can to put your team in the best position to win.

But when the GOAT’s saying that, he’s saying you’re doing it the right way, it shows you that you are doing it the right way. And so that was big for me”

While Brady has not revealed all his football wisdom to Mahomes, the Chiefs’ signal-caller looks forward to learning more.

“He won’t give me all the secrets yet,” Mahomes said. “But hopefully one day I’ll get the secrets and can put those into my game.”

Patrick Mahomes embraces the Tom Brady mindset

While Brady and Mahomes are competitors, their respect from one another extends beyond the football field into their personal lives. Mahomes and his wife Brittany, have a young girl, Sterling, and are expecting a baby boy.

“You want to be able to be a family man and be with your family and you want to be able to do these different things, where you’re going into businesses and then helping out and shooting commercials and, at the same time, keeping football first.”

One of the biggest lessons Mahomes has taken from Brady is the importance of prioritizing football in addition to consistently improving at the game.

“That’s the greatness in Tom Brady is no matter how much off the field stuff he does, football is always the main priority and he makes sure to keep it that way,” Mahomes said. “And so you watch that and then at the same time you go back to him on the field and he’s always getting better. I feel like every single year he finds something he can get better at. And that’s what I want to do, is I want to keep getting better as my career goes on so that I can play hopefully, maybe not as long as him, but pretty long as well.”


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

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It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 in a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

RELATED: Tom Brady’s Super Bowl wins, rings, MVPs, losses: Every appearance, NFL stats, records

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

RELATED:Will Tom Brady make playing beyond 40 more common for quarterbacks?

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

RELATED: Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!