NFL Playoff Schedule 2014: Important Dates to Know for Postseason

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 22:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after a touchdown by teammate DeAngelo Williams #34 during their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For many NFL teams, it is already time to start preparing for the postseason. The rest of the league will know by the end of Week 17 whether they are playoff bound or if they should look for other activities to do over the winter.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the current playoff picture across the league. No team in contention for the final AFC wild-card spot controls its own destiny, while there are a couple of squads in the NFC that can finish seeded anywhere from No. 1 to No. 6. provides a look at the possible scenarios for each team, but here are the current standings in each conference after Week 16:

NFL Playoff Standings After Week 16
1Denver Broncos12-31Seattle Seahawks12-3
2New England Patriots11-42Carolina Panthers11-4
3Cincinnati Bengals10-53Philadelphia Eagles9-6
4Indianapolis Colts10-54Chicago Bears8-7
5Kansas City Chiefs11-45San Francisco 49ers11-4
6Miami Dolphins8-76New Orleans Saints10-5

These teams, and others, can contend for a championship this season with some strong play and a little bit of luck. For those planning on going deep into the playoffs, they need to know these important dates:

NFL Playoff Dates
Wild Card WeekendJan. 4-5
Divisional RoundJan. 11-12
Conference ChampionshipsJan. 19
Super Bowl XLVIIIFeb. 2

While it is impossible to know exactly what will happen in the postseason, there are still some games that fans should be hoping to see. Here is a look at the best possible matchups in the 2014 playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl.

Wild-Card Round: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

These two teams will face each other in Week 17, and a Ravens win could help them advance into the playoffs. Head coach John Harbaugh discussed the importance of the game, via Ryan Mink of

Obviously we have everything at stake. Cincinnati has a lot at stake too – not everything. They’ve got the division and they’re in the playoffs, but they’ve got some seeding issues that they’re playing for. 

It’s going to be a highly-contested game. It’s going to be a tough fight.

Imagine how big of a fight this will be if the two teams face each other in the playoffs. 

Joe Flacco and the Ravens have proven that they have the ability to come through in games that matter the most, and simply making the postseason would make them a legitimate contender to win another Super Bowl.

On the other hand, the Bengals have won every one of their home games, where Andy Dalton has an 18-5 touchdown-interception ratio. Cincinnati has elite talent at virtually every position on the field, and should be able to make a deep run in the playoffs, if Baltimore does not stop the Bengals.

Divisional Round: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Russel Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks throws against NaVorro Bowman #53 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter on December 8, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 1
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Earlier this season, Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman called the battle between the 49ers and Seahawks the best rivalry in the NFL, thanks in part to the hatred between the two sides:

Of course, the recent success of both teams also helps the rivalry as they are arguably two of the best in the NFC. After splitting their regular-season games, a likely grudge match in the second round could decide who represents the conference in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers and Seahawks are built very similarly, with each ranking in the top five in yards and points allowed, as well as rushing yards per game. They also both have young, mobile quarterbacks who have already had plenty of success in just their second year as starters.

Still, this game could come down to location, as the Seahawks have been much better at home in recent years. If they can hold onto the division title, that could be enough to earn them the advantage in the postseason.

Conference Championships: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Oct 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Stew Miln
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Does it get any better than Tom Brady against Peyton Manning in the playoffs?

These two have been battling for years, yet their games against each other are still incredible to watch. Most recently, Brady rallied the Patriots from a 24-point deficit to beat Manning and the Broncos in overtime in Week 12.

Still, Brady will want to get his revenge after Manning broke his regular-season touchdown record:

Getting the last laugh in a playoff game will be all that either player cares about. Considering that neither quarterback has won a Super Bowl since the 2006 season, there would be a lot on the line in this one.

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