Everything you need to know about the 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 have all punched their tickets, leaving two spots up for grabs for Week 18.

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8), Green Bay Packers (8-8), Seattle Seahawks (8-8), New Orleans Saints (8-8), Atlanta Falcons (7-9) and Minnesota Vikings (7-9) ) One game remaining to punch their ticket to the playoffs while the Cardinals, Chiefs, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears are eliminated.

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How each can clinch a playoff berth:

Pirates: Win (wins NFC South division title) or Draw + Lose/Draw Saints (wins NFC South) or Tie + Seahawks loss + Packers loss/draw.

Packing: victory or Tie + Loss/Draw Seahawks + Loss/Draw Saints or Tie + Seahawks loss + Buccaneers loss or Tie + Seahawks Tie + Buccaneers Loss/Tie or Vikings loss/draw + Seahawks loss + Buccaneers loss or Vikings loss/draw + Seahawks loss + Saints loss.

Seahawks: Win + Loss/Draw Packers or Draw + Packers loss + Buccaneers loss/draw or Tie + Packers loss + Saints loss/draw.

Saints: Win + Loss/Draw Pirates or Draw + Pirates Loss or Win + Loss/Draw Seahawks + Loss/Draw Packers or Draw + Seahawks loss + Packers loss.

Falcons: victory + Pirates loss.

Vikings: Win + Packers loss + Seahawks loss + Buccaneers loss or Win + Packers loss + Seahawks loss + Saints loss.

Meanwhile in the Asian Confederation..

The Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Dolphins and Cleveland Browns are locked in the playoff bracket. With three spots remaining, the Buffalo Bills (10-6), Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7), Indianapolis Colts (9-7), Houston Texans (9-7) and Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) are knocking, but the door has been closed on Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, and Las Vegas Raiders.

The Crows control North Asia and the Chiefs control West Asia. The Bills' game against the Dolphins on Sunday decides the AFC East title. But keep an eye on South Asia, with the triangular race looming in Week 18, a lot of the drama is yet to unfold.

How each can clinch a playoff berth:

Invoices: Win (wins East Asian League title) or Tie or Loss/Draw Steelers or Loss/Draw Jaguars or Texas-Colts tie.

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Jaguar: Win (wins the South Asian League title) or Tie + Tie between Colts and Texans (wins AFC South Division title) or Tie + Loss/Draw Steelers or Steelers loss + Broncos loss/draw + Colts-Texans doesn't end in a tie.

Colts: Win + Loss / Draw Jaguars (wins the AFC South League title) or Draw + Jaguars lose (wins the AFC South League title) or victory or Tie + Loss/Draw Steelers.

Texas: Win + Loss / Draw Jaguars (wins the AFC South League title) or victory or Tie + Jaguars loss + Steelers loss/draw.

Steelers: Win + Lose Bills or Win + Loss/Draw Jaguars or Win + Draw Colts-Texans or Tie + Jaguars loss + Colts-Texans doesn't end in a tie or Jaguars loss + Broncos win + Texans Colts don't end in a tie.

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.

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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