2021 NFL Playoffs Explained | Football


The ultimate goal for each of the 32 NFL franchises is to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy, awarded at the end of each season to the Super Bowl winner. Before a team can even start thinking about the Super Bowl, they must first make sure they qualify for the playoffs.

After more than four decades with a 16-game regular-season schedule, NFL teams in 2021 will face a 17-game schedule. At the end of the regular season, 14 teams – seven each from the National Football Conference (NFC) and American Football Conference (AFC) – will advance to the playoffs. Every team in the 2021 playoffs will dream of a trip in February 2022 to SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., For Super Bowl LVI.

Today, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL Playoffs: which teams qualify, who plays whom once they’re listed, and which teams are most likely to fight for the game. Lombardi Trophy.

Who qualifies for the playoffs?

Division winners

The NFL is made up of eight four-team divisions. Each conference, AFC and NFC, has a North, South, East, and West division. The best team from each of these divisions qualifies automatically. The playoff brackets are separated by conference and the four divisions are ranked, from 1 to 4, based on the regular season record. Each division winner is guaranteed to have at least one home playoff game.

The No.1 seed in each conference receives a pass during the first round of the playoffs (the Wild Cards round) and enjoys a field advantage for their two playoff games before the Super Bowl (which is always play on a neutral site).

Generic cards

Six additional teams – three from each conference – also qualify for the playoffs as “Wild Cards”. These, each conference’s top divisional non-winning teams by regular season record, are seeded # 5 through # 7.

To have a chance of winning their division, a team usually needs to win at least 10 games. Securing a Wild Card slot usually requires winning at least 9 or 10 games. We have yet to fully understand the impact on teams of a 17th regular season game. However, it stands to reason that these unofficial thresholds will be higher in 2021.

However, all is not lost if the season does not go completely as planned. Last season, the Washington football team qualified for the playoffs as the champion of the NFC East – one of the worst divisions in NFL history – with a record of just 7-9 .

Under the new 14-team playoff format (from 1990 to 2019 only 12 teams made the playoffs), it is theoretically possible, although very unlikely, that all four teams from the same division will reach the playoffs in the same season.

How do the playoffs work?

Joker trick

In the Wild Cards round, 12 teams play six games. At this point, each seed’s # 2 team plays seed # 7 from the same conference, # 3 plays # 6, and # 4 plays # 5. The winners advance to the divisional round, which is essentially the quarterfinals of the NFL playoffs.

Division round

Eight teams advance to the division round: the three Wild Card round winners and the No. 1 seed who got a pass. The division round consists of four games – two in each conference.

The No.1 seed in each conference plays against the lowest-ranked team remaining from that conference, with the remaining teams competing in the other competition. The highest-ranked seed in each matchup has home court advantage.

Conference Championship Round

The four teams remaining after the divisional round then face each other in two conference championship games.

The two remaining NFC teams fight for the George Halas Trophy, while the two remaining AFC teams play for the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Home field advantage in each conference championship game goes to the team that made the playoffs with the highest ranking.

The winners of these matches are declared NFC and AFC champions and, of course, are awarded spots for the Super Bowl, which is played two weeks after the conference championship round.

Super Bowl LVI

The 2021 season culminates on Sunday February 13, 2022, with a battle between the NFC Champions and AFC Champions, for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and the title of “World Champions”, at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California.

The newly constructed facility, which houses the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams, opened in September 2020 and has a capacity of 100,240 seats.

Playoff records

Most appearances

The Dallas Cowboys have made the most playoff appearances in NFL history, appearing in 63 playoff games and winning 35. However, the Cowboys’ recent playoff form has left a lot to be desired, as only three of their playoff victories have come in the past 20 years.

As a result, the New England Patriots, who won 37 playoff games (and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won 36) eclipsed the Cowboys’ total playoff wins.

The “most winning” team

In terms of winning percentage, unsurprisingly, the six-time Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, lead the list, with wins in 63.8% of their 58 playoff games. The Patriots have also won the most playoff games (37), one ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.

Most defeats

The Minnesota Vikings hold the unwanted record for most playoff losses, at 30. The Cowboys are next on the list, with 28 losses. In terms of winning percentages, the Cincinnati Bengals take the top honors, with wins in just 5 of 19 (or 26.3%) playoff games.

Longest playoff drought

New York Jets fans haven’t seen their team advance to the playoffs since an appearance with a Wild Card in 2010. The Jets actually reached the AFC Championship game before this 11-year drought. .

The next longest droughts belong to Cincinnati, the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos, each of whom last made the playoffs in 2015 – though it’s interesting that the Broncos won the Super Bowl that year.

Super Bowl Records

The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Vince Lombardi Trophies each, while the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers have five each.

On the other end of the scale, the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings have each appeared in four Super Bowls – and have each lost. The Bills, in fact, lost four consecutive Super Bowls between 1990-1993.

12 of the 32 NFL franchises have yet to win a Super Bowl title. Four franchises – the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lion, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars – haven’t even made an appearance yet.

Who are the favorites to face in the playoffs?

After week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, top NFC contenders, in terms of chances of reaching the Super Bowl, include reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC South) +295 (59 / 20), Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers (both from NFC West) +550 (11/2), Seattle Seahawks (also from NFC West) +755 (151/20), Green Bay Packers (NFC North ) +875 (35/4), and the New Orleans Saints (NFC South) +1000 (10/1).

In the AFC, the favorite teams are Super Bowl LV finalists, Kansas City Chiefs (AFC West) +215 (43/20), Buffalo Bills (AFC East) +565 (113/20), Cleveland Browns (AFC North) +725 (29/4), Baltimore Ravens (AFC North) +1150 (23/2), Los Angeles Chargers +1250 (25/2) and Miami Dolphins (AFC East) and Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC North), at +1400 (14/1) each.

Current favorites to win the Super Bowl are: Chiefs +500 (5/1), Buccaneers +625 (25/4), Rams and 49ers +1200 (12/1) each, Bills, +1350 ( 27/2) each, the Browns +1600 (16/1), and the Packers and Seahawks, +1800 (18/1).


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