2023 NFL playoff picture: Dolphins steal AFC’s last spot, neutral-side AFC title game still in play


The final week of the NFL season always brings us plenty of drama, and this year was no different.

In the early games, the Dolphins were the biggest winners after they managed to sneak into the playoffs by stealing the seventh seed in the AFC away from the Patriots.

To get into the postseason, the Dolphins needed a win over the Jets and a loss by New England, which played the Bills. The Dolphins had their hands full with the Jets, but they were able to come away with an 11-6 win after Jason Sanders hit a 50-yard field goal with just 18 seconds left to play (Miami also got a safety on the final play, which pushed them to 11 points). The win over the Jets marked the first time since 2003 that Miami was able to win a game without scoring a touchdown.

The Dolphins officially punched their ticket to the postseason after the Bills beat the Patriots 35-23, a win that came in large part thanks to two kickoff return touchdowns by Nyheim Hines. Buffalo’s win means a neutral AFC championship is still in play, and that will happen if the Bills and Chiefs end up meeting in the AFC title game.

One thing that won’t happen is a coin flip to determine where the Bengals and Ravens will play in the wild-card round. Although the two teams will play next week, the game will officially be in Cincinnati thanks to the Bengals’ 27-16 victory over Baltimore.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the current playoff standings after the early slate of games.

AFC playoff standings

Steelers (9-8):
The Steelers picked up a win in Week 18, but to make the playoffs they needed the Dolphins to lose to the Jets, and that didn’t happen. The only upside here for Mike Tomlin is that his streak of consecutive seasons finishing above .500 will extend to 16 straight.
Patriots (8-9): All the Patriots needed to do to make the playoffs was beat Buffalo on Sunday, but they failed to do so, meaning they will be sitting at home for the postseason.
Titans (7–10): The Titans could have gotten into the playoffs with a win over Jacksonville, but they were officially eliminated Saturday night after losing to the Jaguars.

NFC playoff standings

Lions (8-8):
To make the playoffs, the Lions will need two things to happen: They need to beat the Packers, and they also need the Seahawks to lose to the Rams.
Packers (8-8): Although the Packers are currently below the Lions and Seahawks in the standings, they are actually the only one of the three teams in control of their destiny this week. If the Packers beat the Lions on Sunday night, they are headed to the playoffs.

Wild Card Round Matchups (Based on Current Position)

AFC (All games official in AFC)

  • (7) Dolphins on (2) bills
  • (6) Ravens vs. (3) Bengals
  • (5) Chargers at (4) Jaguars

Good bye: Chiefs


  • (7) Seahawks at (2) 49ers
  • (6) Fights with (3) Vikings
  • (5) Cowboys at (4) Buccaneers

Good bye: Eagles

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