Six of the NFL’s eight divisions had new champions this year. That includes Dallas, which became the 13th team in the past 14 years to go from worst to first in its division. And the Cowboys didn’t just go from worst to first in their division — they went from worst to first in the entire NFC.

This is a roundabout way of saying we have no clue which teams will end up in the playoffs a year from now, let alone the two teams that will make it to U.S. Bank Stadium for Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018.

But we’re taking a wild swing at the unpredictable: We’ve projected next year’s playoff field based on where this year’s playoff teams were seeded a year ago.

For example, the AFC’s No. 1 seed and Super Bowl champion last season, Denver, didn’t make the playoffs this season. In this scenario, this year’s No. 1 seed in the AFC, the Patriots, would miss the playoffs next year.

Another example closer to home: Detroit, No. 9 in the NFC in 2015, was No. 6 in 2016. That would make the Vikings, this year’s No. 9, a No. 6 next season.

If this format were to miraculously come through, a year from now we’ll be looking at the Giants, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Chiefs as the final four teams.

Here’s how the Super Bowl LII Road to Minneapolis would look:

2016-17 playoff seeds

Here are this year’s playoff teams and, in parentheses, how they finished in their conference last season:


1. Cowboys (16)

2. Falcons (7)

3. Seahawks (6)

4. Packers (5)

5. Giants (12)

6. Lions (9)


1. Patriots (2)

2. Chiefs (5)

3. Steelers (6)

4. Texans (4)

5. Raiders (10)

6. Dolphins (11)

Projecting 2017-18 seeds

What if the same thing were to happen from this year to next year that happened from last year to this year? This would be next season’s playoff teams (this year’s conference finish in parentheses):


1. 49ers (16)

2. Buccaneers (7)

3. Lions (6)

4. Giants (5)

5. Eagles (12)

6. Vikings (9)


1. Chiefs (2)

2. Raiders (5)

3. Dolphins (6)

4. Texans (4)

5. Colts (10)

6. Bills (11)

Early look at the

2017-18 playoffs

What if next year’s playoff games unfolded with the same seeds winning that won this year?

Here would be the results:


Wild-card round

No. 3 Lions def. No. 6 Vikings

No. 4 Giants def. No. 5 Eagles

Divisional round

No. 2 Buccaneers def. No. 3 Lions

No. 4 Giants def. No. 1 49ers

Championship game

No. 4 Giants at No. 2 Buccaneers



Wild-card round

No. 3 Dolphins def. No. 6 Bills

No. 4 Texans def. No. 5 Colts

Divisional round

No. 3 Dolphins def. No. 2 Raiders

No. 1 Chiefs def. No. 4 Texans

Championship game

No. 3 Dolphins at No. 1 Chiefs.