Football NFL Postseason
The postseason in football is played from January until early February, 12 teams fight to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Six teams are chosen from each conference (the NFC & AFC). Four division winners & two wildcard teams from both conferences play a three-round, single-elimination tournament. Wildcards are teams that did not win their division; however, the NFL allows for the two teams with the best records after the division winners to make the playoffs. Two conference champions emerge to compete in the Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February to decide the best team in the league.
The NFL postseason bracket is made up of 12 teams, 6 from each conference. Teams on either side of the bracket (one side the AFC, the other side the NFC) are seeded one through six. Seeds one through four are reserved for the winners of each of the divisions in their respective conferences. Seeds five and six are 'wild cards,' or teams that did not win their division but had a good enough regular-season record to make the playoffs.
All of the seeds are ordered based on season record. There are tiebreakers in place in case any teams have the same record. Here are the first few tiebreakers, though there are more if these do not break the tie:
- Head to head record
- Win percentage within division
- Win percentage in common games
- Win percentage in conference games
Seeds one and two receive first-round byes and do not have to play a game in the first round of the postseason. This is a big advantage for many reasons. They cannot be eliminated in the first round or "wild card weekend" and aren't banged up or fatigued from playing a first-round game.
The games in the NFL playoffs play exactly as they would in the regular season, except playoff games cannot end in a tie, therefore, overtime must continue until a winner is determined.
Wild Card Round
The Wild Card is the first round of the NFL playoffs. In this round, seeds three, four, five, and six all play. Seed three plays against seed six and seed four plays against seed five. The designated home team is the team in the matchup that is seeded higher. During the Super Bowl, the game is played in a predetermined location or neutral site.
Postseason games are played on Saturday and Sunday. Each conference usually has one game played on one day and the other played the next.
The Divisional Round is the second round of the NFL playoffs. In this round, the one seed plays against the lowest-ranked seed remaining in the bracket, and the two seed plays against the second-lowest ranked seed remaining in the bracket. At this point in postseason play, there are only four teams remaining on either side of the bracket.
The Conference Championship is the penultimate round of the NFL playoffs. In this round, the remaining two teams on either side of the bracket play each other to determine which teams will be playing in the Super Bowl. Again, in each matchup, the higher seed gets to play at home.
Following the Conference, Championship is the NFL Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is like an NFL All-Star game where fans and players vote on the best players from the season to play in the Pro Bowl. Players from teams playing in the Super Bowl don't play in the Pro Bowl to avoid injury and to prepare for the upcoming game.
The Super Bowl is the final round of the NFL playoffs. The victor of the Super Bowl is crowned the NFL Champion for the season. The game itself is played at a neutral site, though it is determined which team will be the designated home team by a coin toss for uniform and overtime purposes. No team has ever played the Super Bowl in their home stadium however this is possible as the location is determined years in advance.