NFL Week 18 NFC playoff picture: How the 49ers and Saints can make the postseason


Entering the final week of the regular season, six NFC teams have secured a postseason berth: the Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. One playoff spot is still up for grabs and there are two remaining teams in the NFC fighting for the chance to play in the postseason. The San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints will put their playoff hopes on the line in Week 18. Let’s take a closer look at the NFL Week 18 NFC playoff picture. Plus, check out Week 18 final scores and standings here.

RELATED: NFL Week 18 AFC Playoff Picture: What is the path to the postseason for the Ravens, Chargers, Raiders, Colts and Steelers?

How can the 49ers make the playoffs?

After getting off to a 2-4 start to the season, the 49ers find themselves in a crucial game on Sunday afternoon against the NFC-West leading Los Angeles Rams. In the second half of the season through Weeks 8-17, San Francisco posted a 7-3 record, but only two of those victories have come against playoff-caliber teams. The 49ers have defeated the Rams in their last five meetings, including a 31-10 victory in Week 10, and will look to secure their spot in the playoffs with a Week 18 win.

If the 49ers lose though, they still have a chance to clinch a playoff spot if the Saints lose or tie the Falcons. Both games are scheduled to start at 4:25.

It is still unclear who will start under center for San Francisco as Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a thumb injury and missed the team’s last game against the Houston Texans. Coach Kyle Shanahan said that Garoppolo will get the start if he is healthy. If not, the team will start 2021 first-round selection Trey Lance at quarterback. While playing against the 4-12 Texans last week, Lance was 16 of 23 for 249 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. It remains to be seen if the 49ers will start the QB who is not fully healthy or the one who has only two career starts.

San Francisco 49ers (9-7) (at 12-4 Los Angeles Rams)

San Francisco clinches playoff berth with:

How can the Saints make the playoffs?

The Saints lost five straight from Weeks 9-13 but have won 3 of their last 4, and at 8-8 they still have a shot at the postseason (albeit a slim one). In the team’s first season without Drew Brees since 2005, New Orleans has a chance to advance to its fifth straight postseason. In order to do so, the Saints need to defeat the 7-9 Falcons and they need the 49ers to lose to the Rams.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched the NFC South last week. New Orleans defeated the Carolina Panthers in Week 17 to keep their playoff hopes alive while the Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention following a loss to the Bills. QB Taysom Hill passed for 22 yards and a touchdown in the win and led the Saints with 45 rushing yards. New Orleans has fielded four different quarterbacks under center this season, but it will be Hill that gets the start in the team’s crucial matchup on Sunday.

In the last meeting between the two teams on Week 9, the Falcons won 27-25. Atlanta will be looking for its first series sweep since 2016.

New Orleans Saints (8-8) (at 7-9 Atlanta Falcons)

New Orleans clinches playoff berth with:

  1. NO win + SF loss

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

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)

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!