November 22, 2022

How the football playoffs will be played


Things within the NFL playoffs haven’t changed much despite the fact that in 2020 more teams were allowed into the playoffs, but generally everything looks the same. Check here to see how the playoffs work for this new NFL season in the United States

Tom Brady won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020
© Getty ImagesTom Brady won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020

There are no big changes in the playoffs, recent changes were made in 2020. Everything is arranged for the National Football League qualifiers 2021-22 will start in January 2022. The good news is that the NFL now allows 14 teams to play in the playoffs.

The 2020 was different for the NFL and not just because of the coronavirus, but because the NFL decided to expand the playoffs to 14 teams. Previously, only 12 teams were allowed, the modification of the added format 3 jokers for each conference.

The NFL is divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference, and within each of the conferences there are four divisions. The divisions are called East, North, South, West.

2021-22 NFL playoff format: division winners

Each conference has 16 teams divided into four divisions who take the name of the conference to distinguish themselves: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South and AFC West. It is the same with the NFC, each division from East to West bears the initials of the conference.

Each division within the conferences is made up of four teams who compete to win the division with the best record. A clear example of an AFC East winner in 2020 was the Buffalo Bills at 13-3-0.

The two division winners of each conference with the best record do not have to play in the Wildcard Round, they get a special pass called BYE and move on to the next round (divisional round) to play against the winners of the wild round.

A clear example was in 2020 when the Chiefs won the AFC West with 14-2-0 (best AFC record) and automatically entered the divisional round. The division winners are numbered 1 to 4 and are known as Seed No. 1, 2, 3 and 4.

2021-22 NFL Playoff Format: Wildcard Round

The joker trick is a bit more complex but easy to understand even for people who don’t know anything about American football. Each conference offers 3 special passes called Wildcards where three teams have the opportunity to advance to the Division Round (if they manage to win), the Conference Title Game and the Super Bowl. They are also known as No. 5, 6 and 7 seeds.

The teams that play in the wildcard round are those with the three best records (after division winners) at the end of the regular season. In 2020, the three NFC teams that reached the playoffs thanks to the wildcard were:

NFC South – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11-5-0 (Saints won the division)
NFC North – Chicago Bears 8-8-0 (Packers won the division)
NFC West – Los Angeles Rams 10-6-0 (Seahawks won division)

The matches of the teams in the the wildcard round will be against the teams that won the divisions and had the best records after the two teams that received the bye for the division round.

Game 1: Winner of the # 2 division against the # 7 wildcard team (Bear)
Game 2: Winner of the # 3 division against the # 6 wildcard team (Rams)
Game 3: Winner of the # 4 division against the # 5 Wildcard team (Bucs)

2021-22 NFL Playoff Format: Divisional Round

This round is the big filter of the playoffs, only the best teams from each division and conference face off in four or five matches that will define the final games for conference title games. The format of the division round is as follows:

Game 1: The BYE NFC team with the best division record against the winner of the NFC Wildcard round.
Game 2: AFC team with the best division record against the winner of the AFC Wildcard round.
Game 3: BYE AFC team with the best division record against the winner of the AFC Wildcard round.
Game 4: NFC team with the best division record against the winner of the NFC Wildcard round.

2021-22 NFL playoff format: conference title

There is not much to say about this part of the playoffs since to reach this part of the playoffs the four best teams must win in the division round, the previous recording does not matter here and there is no Bye available. In 2020, the Chiefs won the AFC against the Bills and the Buccaneers won the NFC against the Packers.

2021-22 NFL Playoff Format: Super Bowl

This is the last phase of the playoffs, only the winners of the conference titles can play in the final ring match of the Super Bowl. After the conference title matches, both teams will have several days off before playing the Super Bowl.

Here’s what the Playoffs looked like in the 2020 season where the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl against the Chiefs.

Data provided by

The week Dated Winner / tie Loser / tie pts pts
Generic character 2021-01-09 Bison tickets Indianapolis Colts 27 24
Generic character 2021-01-09 The Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks 30 20
Generic character 2021-01-09 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington football team 31 23
Generic character 2021-01-10 Cleveland browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers 48 37
Generic character 2021-01-10 Saints of New Orleans Chicago Bear 21 9
Generic character 2021-01-10 Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans 20 13
Division 2021-01-16 Green Bay Packers The Los Angeles Rams 32 18
Division 2021-01-16 Bison tickets Baltimore Ravens 17 3
Division 2021-01-17 Kansas City Chiefs Cleveland browns 22 17
Division 2021-01-17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Saints of New Orleans 30 20
ConfConf 2021-01-24 Kansas City Chiefs Bison tickets 38 24
ConfConf 2021-01-24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers 31 26
Super Bowl 2021-02-07 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NOT Kansas City Chiefs 31 9

2021-22 NFL Playoff Photo: Conference Standings for Upcoming Playoffs (updated Dec 23)

From now on, this section will show the status of each team on the way to the nfl playoffs, all the information on the victories, the losses and the seven teams of each conference which will be in the playoffs in January 2022.

AFC qualifying ranking

Tm W L T Position Raison
Kansas City Chiefs (1) ten 4 0 Champion of the West
New England Patriots (2) 9 5 0 Eastern champion one-on-one record
Tennessee Titans (3) 9 5 0 Southern Champion
Cincinnati Bengals (4) 8 6 0 Champion of the North one-on-one record
Indianapolis Colts (5) 8 6 0 Wildcard character # 1 conference win percentage
Los Angeles Chargers (6) 8 6 0 Wild Card # 2 conference win percentage
Bison Tickets (7) 8 6 0 Wild Card # 3 percentage of wins in common games
Baltimore Ravens 8 6 0
Pittsburgh Steelers seven 6 1
Las Vegas Adventurers seven seven 0 one-on-one record
Miami dolphins seven seven 0 conference win percentage
Cleveland browns seven seven 0 one-on-one record
Denver Broncos seven seven 0
New York Jets 3 11 0 one-on-one record
Houston Texans 3 11 0
Jacksonville Jaguars 2 12 0

NFC playoff standings

Tm W L T Position Raison
Green Bay Packers (1) 11 3 0 Champion of the North
Dallas Cowboys (2) ten 4 0 Eastern champion conference win percentage
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3) ten 4 0 Southern Champion force of victory
Arizona Cardinals (4) ten 4 0 Champion of the West division win percentage
Los Angeles Rams (5) ten 4 0 Wildcard character # 1
San Francisco 49ers (6) 8 6 0 Wild Card # 2
Minnesota Vikings (7) seven seven 0 Wild Card # 3 percentage of wins in common games
Philadelphia Eagles seven seven 0 one-on-one record
Saints of New Orleans seven seven 0
Washington football team 6 8 0 one-on-one record
Atlanta Falcons 6 8 0
Carolina Panthers 5 9 0 conference win percentage
Seattle Seahawks 5 9 0
New York Giants 4 ten 0 conference win percentage
Chicago Bear 4 ten 0
Detroit Lions 2 11 1

** Data provided by

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