I know that we are a few days removed from the start of the 12 Days of Christmas, but how about the 12 Posts of Playoffs? Because who doesn’t want more to celebrate?!
The 12 Posts of Playoffs will be a series that runs for the next four weeks (conveniently also the duration of the playoffs). Each post will feature a lesson that coincides with the number of the day. Kind of like Sesame Street, but helpful for knowing what’s what on a football field.
Today’s lesson: the 12 playoff teams.
The playoff schedule is set. Twelve teams have advanced. But how did they make the cut? Let’s review.
We recently went over how the 12 teams are selected. Here’s a refresher:
Within the NFL there are two conferences, the AFC and the NFC. Each conference has four geographic divisions: the North, East, South, and West. Each division has four teams. So the AFC North, for example, consists of the Bengals, Browns, Ravens, and Steelers.
Teams advance into the postseason by the merit of their regular season record. The team with the best regular season record within each division gets an automatic playoff spot. That’s 8 teams. Two additional teams from each conference also advance. These “wildcard” teams are the two teams with the best record among the non-division winners from the whole conference (AFC or NFC). That’s 4 total wildcards teams. In total, that makes 12 teams that advance into the postseason.
The four teams that win their division from each conference are ranked (“seeded”) according to their regular season record, 1 through 4. That results in eight teams total. The remaining four teams are the wildcard teams, and they are ranked 5th and 6th within their conference based on their overall record. When matched up throughout the playoffs, the team that is seeded higher plays at home; the lower seed has to travel.
Let’s put some flesh on all of that by seeing what it looks like this season.
The four division winners in the NFC are the Eagles (East), the Packers (North), the Panthers (South), and the Seahawks (West). The NFC Wildcard teams are the Saints and the 49ers (by merit of having the best regular season record among the remaining NFC teams). The division winners are seeded 1 through 4 (also by merit of their regular season record) and the wildcard teams are seeded 5 and 6:
- Seahawks (West)
- Panthers (South)
- Eagles (East)
- Packers (North)
- 49ers (Wildcard)
- Saints (Wildcard)
The winner of the conference gets home field advantage throughout the playoffs (good luck with that, NFC). The top two seeds get a first round bye, which means the Seahawks and the Panthers don’t have to play this weekend. The remaining four teams play in the first round, Wildcard Weekend, and the higher ranked seed plays the lower ranked seed at the higher ranked seeds stadium. So the Saints will play the Eagles in Philadelphia and the 49ers will play the Packers in Green Bay (you can mail the Pepto Bismol directly to my house).
In the AFC, the Patriots won the East, the Bengals won the North, the Colts won the South, and the Broncos won the West. The Chiefs and the Chargers won the two wildcard slots. They are all seeded as follows:
- Broncos (West)
- Patriots (East)
- Bengals (North)
- Colts (South)
- Chiefs (Wildcard)
- Chargers (Wildcard)
This weekend, the Chargers will play the Bengals in Cincinnati and the Chiefs will play the Colts in Indy. The Broncos and Patriots have the week off.
Make sense? For much more on all things playoff, check out this post.