NFL Playoff Bracket, Seeding, and Matchups: A Beginner's Guide
With the playoffs starting this weekend, here is a quick guide to understanding the matchups and which teams will play each other.
Each conference has six seeds, one being the highest and six being the lowest as follows (source: NFL.com):
- The division champion with the best record.
- The division champion with the second-best record.
- The division champion with the third-best record.
- The division champion with the fourth-best record.
- The Wild Card club with the best record.
- The Wild Card club with the second-best record.
The first and second seeds are given a week off while seeds three through six play each other as follows:
First Round of NFL Playoffs
AFC and NFC first round
1. Seed 3 hosts Seed 6
- AFC: 3. New England Patriots host 6. Baltimore Ravens
- NFC: 3. Arizona Cardinals host 6. Green Bay Packers
2. Seed 4 hosts Seed 5
- AFC: 4. Cincinnati Bengals host 5. New York Jets
- NFC: 4. Dallas Cowboys host 5. Philadelphia Eagles
From this point forward the highest seed will (with exception of the Super Bowl) host the lowest seed in the next round which means the following:
Second Round of NFL Playoffs (by conference, by seed)
- Indianapolis Colts host the lowest of the remaining seeds from the first round. This means that no higher than the fourth seed would play Indianapolis in this round.
- San Diego Chargers host the highest of the remaining seeds from the first round. This means no lower than the fifth seed would play San Diego in this round.
- New Orleans Saints host the lowest of the remaining seeds from the first round. This means that no higher than the fourth seed would play New Orleans in this round.
- Minneapolis Vikings host the highest of the remaining seeds from the first round. This means no lower than the fifth seed would play Minneapolis in this round.
Third Round of NFL Playoffs (Conference Championship Round)
AFC and NFC
- Highest seed remaining (teams of same conference) hosts lowest seed remaining in the respective conference.
Final Round of NFL Playoffs (Super Bowl Championship; i.e. League Championship):
- The AFC Champion will be designated the home team and the NFC Champion will be designated the away team at a stadium site predetermined three years prior. The host city this year will be Miami, Florida at Dolphin Stadium (the home stadium of the Miami Dolphins).
The home team is determined as follows (Chicagobears.com):
- AFC teams host in years ending with an even number (i.e. 0, 2, 4, 6, 8).
- NFC teams host in years ending with an odd number (i.e. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9).
Looking forward to an exciting playoff picture.
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