Tuesday, January 26

NFL Playoff Group Explained: How Goodbye Seeding Will Work In Expanded 2021 Format


The NFL’s expanded playoff pool has been a talking point all season, but with the playoffs finally around the corner, it’s worth checking out exactly how a 14-team field works in the first year of its existence. .

The league went from 12 teams ranked to 14 for the 2020 season. Much of the reasoning is based on interest and money, but it also creates a different playoff image than what NFL fans may be used to. Now there is a No. 7 seed to play in every conference. There is also a single goodbuy instead of two on each side. It forces a re calibration of how the end of season results look.

We’ve broken down the new parenthesis below, both to explain how it works if you’re unfamiliar or needs a refresher, and to explain why it exists the way it does. For the first time, teams aren’t necessarily playing hard for the No. 2 seed and the goodbuy that used to come with him, so we explain the reasons for that as well. At the end of the day, two more teams will be in the playoffs this season than ever, and that should only mean two more teams that are worth it (not counting the NFC East, because yuck).

PLUS: NFL playoff closing scenarios for Week 17

How many teams make the NFL playoffs?

A totals of 14 teams make the NFL playoffs after the 2020 regular season. That’s divided into seven NFC teams and seven AFC teams.

There are a totals of 32 teams in the NFL, which is equivalent to 43.75 percent of the teams that advance to play in the postseason. The seed is broken when the four division winners ranked 1-4 by record with the next three best records filling three wild card spots.

The 14-team playoff field is an expansion for this season. Before 2020, 12 teams made the postseason with six from each conference. The only way it’s changed from a seed standpoint is for a wild card third team to be added as the seventh seed.

NFL playoff group 2021

(SN illustration)

Here you can see how the NFL has divided the playoff draw at its new 14-team playoff field. Instead of two buys, only one team in each conference receives a first-round buy. Next, the No. 2 seed plays No. 7, No. 3 plays No. 6, and No. 4 plays No. 5 on each side. The seeded player faces the winner of the game 4/5 in the divisional round.

Despite the expansion of the playoffs, the alteration of the buy totals means that there are the same number of rounds (although two additional playoff games overall). The wild-card round will feature 12 teams competing, compared to the previous eight, with 12 being the same number as the totals of qualifiers in past playoffs.

How many teams get a goodbuy in the first round?

A totals of two NFL teams earn free passes in the first round this postseason, one from the AFC and one from the NFC. That’s because of the expanded playoff field from six qualified to seven qualified in each conference. When six teams made it, two teams from each side got a goodbuy, but that’s no longer the case.

The reason for the modified buy totals is to finish in the divisional round with four teams on each side. That way, it is divided evenly from eight live teams to four live teams to two teams in the Super Bowl. To do that in a group of 14 teams, you need 12 of the teams to play in the first round, because then you get six winners with the two teams in goodbuy added.

Why did the NFL expand the playoff field?

There are many angles to approaching this question, but it basically all comes down to money.

An expanded playoff field means that conceptually more teams are on the hunt during the final weeks of the regular season, which means more fans are invested in the results. That makes the second half of the regular season more intense for more teams / fan bases.

Once you’re in the playoffs, it also means more attention because there are two additional fan groups involved. Add in the alteration to the buy schedule that creates two more games in the first round, and it’s obvious that even a two-team increase in the postseason means a lot to NFL results.

Does seed No. 2 have any benefit without a goodbuy?

Now that the No. 2 seed in every conference doesn’t have a goodbuy, there is far less reason to play hard to secure that spot. The main one is this: two rounds of home advantage.

The No. 2 seed is guaranteed two rounds at home before having to travel and play the No. 1 seed in the AFC championship. That, of course, requires a first-round victory for the No. 2 seed to get that second home game.

The No. 3 seed is only guaranteed one home game, because if No. 2 and 3 win in the first round, they will meet on the No. 2 home field in the second round.

2021 NFL playoff schedule

Wild card round

Saturday January 9

MatchStart timetelevision channel
TBD in TBD1:05 pm ETTBDTBD
TBD in TBD4:40 pm ETTBD
TBD in TBD8:15 pm ETTBD

Sunday January 10

MatchStart timetelevision channel
TBD in TBD1:05 pm ETTBD
TBD in TBD4:40 pm ETCBS
TBD in TBD8:15 pm ETNBC

Divisional round

Saturday January 16

MatchStart timetelevision channel
AFC Divisional Round (TBD in TBD)TBDTBD
NFC divisional round (TBD in TBD)TBDTBD

Sunday January 17

MatchStart timetelevision channel
AFC Divisional Round (TBD in TBD)TBDTBD
NFC divisional round (TBD in TBD)TBDTBD

Conference Championships

Sunday January 24

Match Away teamStart timetelevision channel
NFC vs NFCNFC TBD3:05 pm ETFox
AFC vs AFC AFC TBD6:40 pm ETCBS

Super Bowl 55

Sunday February 7

MatchStart timetelevision channel
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion6:30 pm ETCBS



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