Everything you need to know about the 2023-24 NFL Playoffs, from how to watch to the tiebreakers

Three… two… one… Happy 2024 NFL Playoffs!

If your New Year's resolutions include watching more soccer, you're a lucky goalscorer. The NFL playoffs begin Jan. 13, and the wild card round runs through Jan. 15. This gives you about a week to get to know the league's fanbase and get started, but fortunately, you start here with a few minutes and everything you need to know.

Warning: Excessive football viewing can result in excessive shouting at inanimate objects such as a television set.

How many teams make the postseason?

Fourteen of the league's 32 teams will be able to claim the Vince Lombardi Trophy, with seven teams — the four division winners and three Wild Card teams — from each conference remaining alive in Week 18.

The two teams with the best records in the AFC and NFC both secured the top spot in Week 17. The Baltimore Ravens (13-3) beat the Miami Dolphins to clinch first place in the AFC for the first time. Once since 2019 while the 49ers' victory over the Washington Commanders and the Arizona Cardinals' upset over the Philadelphia Eagles gave San Francisco (12-4) NFC supremacy.

As top dogs, the Ravens and 49ers get a bye in the first round — bypassing the wild-card round — and home-field advantage.

The No. 2 seeds are the division winners with sThe best second records, and the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds are followed by the division winners with the best third and fourth records.

The fifth through seventh seeds go to Wild Card teams, which are those that haven't won their divisions but have the next-best records in all of the conference. They fill out the remaining rankings chronologically: the team with the best record out of all three wild-card teams is fifth, the second-best team is sixth, and the third-best team is seventh.

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What are the playoff games?

What if the two qualifying contenders have the same record? Who enters?

They are the team with the best head-to-head record. But if that's also tied, the postseason bid goes to the team that has…

  1. Best win-loss-draw percentage in conference games.
  2. The best win-loss-draw ratio in combined games, with a minimum of four.
  3. Better power for victory in all matches.
  4. Better strength of schedule in all games.
  5. The best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  6. The best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
  7. Best net points in conference games.
  8. Best net points in all matches.
  9. The best touch grid in all games.

And if it all ends one way or another, there's a guaranteed, limited tiebreaker: the coin toss.

Chiefs…your team gets a playoff bid! Tails…your poor, poor TV.

What does the current qualifying picture look like?

It's prime time in the NFC…

The 49ers, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams all secured their tickets before Week 18, leaving two spots up for grabs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) captured one of those games, winning the NFC South championship with a 9-0 win over the Carolina Panthers.

The 49ers own the NFC West and the Lions won the NFC North. The NFC East and South are unclaimed.

The New Orleans Saints (9-8), Green Bay Packers (8-8), and Seattle Seahawks (8-8) could still win the final wild card.

How each can clinch a playoff berth:

Packing: victory

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Seahawks: Win + Loss/Draw Packers

Saints: Loss/draw Seahawks + Loss/draw Packers

Meanwhile in the Asian Confederation..

All seven qualifying teams have been set, the only thing left to do is determine the seeding.


The Ravens, Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers will represent the AFC in the playoffs.

The Texans (10-7) clinched a spot with a win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. The Bills (10-6) and Steelers (10-7) rallied after the Jacksonville Jaguars' (9-8) season-ending loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Sunday night's Dolphins-Bills game will decide the AFC East, as well as first-round matchups.

If the Bills win, they will be the No. 2 seed and host the No. 7 Steelers, while the No. 3 Chiefs will host the No. 6 Dolphins.

If the Dolphins win, they will be the No. 2 seed and host the No. 7 Bills again, while the No. 3 Chiefs host the No. 6 Steelers.

If the Dolphins and Bills tied, Miami would be the No. 2 seed and host the No. 7 Steelers, while the No. 3 Chiefs would host the No. 6 Bills.

Playoff schedule, TV information

Wild Card Round (all Eastern times)

Saturday 13 January

  • Game 1: 4:30 p.m. (NBC)
  • Second match: 8:15 pm (Peacock)

Sunday 14 January

  • Third match: 1 p.m. (to be determined later)
  • Fourth match: 4:30 p.m. (to be determined later)
  • Fifth match: 8:15 pm (to be determined later)

Monday 15 January

  • Game 6: 8:15 p.m. (ABC, ESPN)

Divisional round

The stakes will be raised with two matches each on January 20-21. Times and networks will be determined later.

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Conference Championships

Both conference championship games will be played on Sunday, January 28.

Super Bowl XVIII

The Super Bowl kicks off on February 11 and will be broadcast on CBS this year. This year's game will be held at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Required reading

(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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