The NFL Playoffs have changed significantly in recent years as the NFL has restructured. Last year, for the first time ever, the NFL had seven teams play in the postseason, with only one team getting a bye. The format is continued this season. Below, we’ll break down how this year’s playoff format will be structured.
There are two conferences in the NFL, the AFC, and the NFC. Each conference has four divisions, with each division housing four teams. Last season, the NFL made another significant change, adding a week to the season and bumping the number of regular season games from 16 games to 17. NFL teams play each team in their division twice, a team from a different NFC and AFC division once, and then three random out-of-division games.
Once the regular season is finished, the teams with the best record in each division will make the playoffs. They account for 4 of the seven teams in each conference that make the playoffs. Then, the three teams with the best record that didn’t win their division in each conference will make the playoffs.
The team with the best record in each conference will get a bye past the first round of the playoffs, which is called the Wild Card round. In each conference, the two seed will play the seven seed, the three seed will play the six seed, and the four seed will play the five seed. The winner of each game moves on to the divisional round. The winner of the divisional round moves on to the Conference Championship, and the winner of that game advances to the Super Bowl.
What did we have this NFL Playoffs season?
This has been a crazy season since the opening kickoff when the Buffalo Bills thoroughly dominated the reigning champions, the Los Angeles Rams. Before the season began, there were a few teams everyone expected to be dominant, and they have mostly lived up to the hype. Popular Super Bowl picks were the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Cincinnati Bengals. These teams have all lived up to the hype, looking like the biggest threats to win the AFC and real Super Bowl contenders.
But in the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were considered likely contenders, and they have looked like they will not be factors in this year’s Super Bowl, unlike the previous two. Instead, the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys have absolutely stolen the show. These three teams are jostling for positioning, angling for the 1-seed, and home-field advantage the rest of the way.
Many teams that were expected to be good have come up short this year, like the Denver Broncos, who were a popular betting pick following their trade for Russel Wilson. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, who were both expected to be bottom-feeders, have shown their strength due to resurgent seasons from their quarterbacks and high-powered offenses.
Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts have been the class of the QB position, and each has a chance at the MVP. Justin Jefferson has had a wide receiver season for the ages, and Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, and Myles Garrett have shown that the next generation of elite pass rushers has arrived.
It has been a crazy season, and it is certain that the playoffs will be just as exciting