NFL playoffs are a knock-out tournament after the NFL regular season to determine the National Football League champion of the United States, which was started in 1933 with 12 numbers of teams. New England Patriots is the most recent national football league (NFL) champion team. Green Bay Parker fall under the category of most titles and there are TV partners like NBC, Fox, ESPN/ABC, and CBS. It is a single-elimination tournament and uses it in all the four rounds of the playoffs. The history of the preseason for NFL dates back to the first NFL Championship Game, which was held in 1933. Regular season records were vital initially; however, there had been changes later on. In 1970, there were eight teams for NFL Playoffs as American Football League was merged.
The NFL playoffs
The No. of NFL teams: 12
Most recent winner(s): Philadelphia Eagles (4th title)
Most titles champion: Green Bay Packers (13 titles)
NFL playoff TV partner(s): CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN/ABC
The NFL playoff tournament postseason that will be started on January first week in each year, with wild-card games. The NFL playoffs will conclude with American Football Conference (AFC) champion vs National Football Conference (NFC) champion is called super bowl, on February first week at Miami Stadium in Florida. Get the latest NFL playoff picture, news, schedule, bracket, prediction, odds and more.
Current playoff system
There are two conferences, National Football Conference, which is abbreviated as NFC and American Football Conference, which is abbreviated as AFC, which divides the 32 teams of National Football League. Each of the conferences consists of 16 teams. However, there is a further division of the teams since 2002. Four teams have four divisions. There are six teams, which make the tournament bracket and these would be from the two conferences. Teams, which are 1 to 4 seeded, are based on the won-lost-tied record and there is wild card entry for two teams, which are seeded from 5 to 6 and here is a team from each conference. The postseason format dates back to 1978. Wildcard playoffs are the very first round of the playoffs. In this particular round, the third-seeded division winner has the responsibility of holding the wild card for the sixth seed. Similarly, the fifth is held by the fourth-seeded division winner. In any round, teams from the same division can match up as there are no restrictions as such.
When there is a tie in winning conflicts NFL has a system in order to resolve these conflicts. Since 1984 there was the same home stadium, which was shared by New York Jets and New York Giants. Therefore, when teams have the need to host the game during weekends, they have to make a selection of separate days. There was a conflict only once in 1985 during the wild card weekend. NFL playoffs format is quite interesting as it assists in understanding the rules of the game as well. The schedule for NFL playoff shows that super bowl would be on Feb 3 in 2018-19, it would be on Feb 2 in 2019-2020, and it would be on Feb 7 in 2020-2021. However, in 2017-2018 it wagons Feb 4.
Identical records are possible for the teams as well. Thus, there is a need to break off the ties, which is important to get an idea on which team would be able to qualify for the final playoffs. Rules are applied until a tie is broken and these rules are in order. These rules are also important for the determination of seeding for the playoff tournament. If there are three teams, which have a tie for one particular spot and third team is eliminated at any step then for the remaining two teams, which are now left tiebreaker would revert to the very first step. In the same way, if there are multiple playoff spots, rules would be applied in order until very first team qualifies and then for the remaining teams the process would start again. There are changes in rules over the years with the most recent change in 2002.
Overtime rules were introduced by NFL in 1940 for the divisional tie-break games and in 1946 for the championship games. When the scores are same, overtime is applied in order to avoid a draw. 1958 NFL Championship Game was the very first postseason game, which was played under these rules. Sudden death was part of the original format hence, the very first team scoring ahead would be the winner. There was an amendment in the rules in 2010 and then the rules were extended to 2012 into a regular season. Since postseasons game cannot end in a tie these are played until there is a declared winner.
Playoff and championship history
Playoff and championship history is quite interesting and over the years there has been a change in determining the champions by NFL. It was quite different in the early years. The scheduled championship game was not common in the early years (from 1920 to 1932). Team owners would vote at annual owners’ meeting to award the championship to a team from 1920-1923. A team with the best winning percentage was awarded ownership from 1924 to 1932. It was difficult to count the number of wins or the losses because there were a different number of games played by the team. Keeping in view the modern rules, a tie is counted as a ½ win or ½ loss but there was a time when tie games were not counted to find the winning percentages in standings. The head-to-head tiebreaker was also a criterion. There was an identical winning percentage of 0.857 in 1932 at a game between Portsmouth Spartans and Chicago Bears. The winning percentage for the Green Bay Packers was 0.769, which was lower in comparison despite the fact that they had more wins.
Thus, there was a need to find the champion. At Wrigley Field, a game was to be played in Chicago; however, there were harsh weather conditions due to which it was moved indoors at the Chicago Stadium. The final score for the Bears was 9-0 and modified rules were followed for the game. The dirt field was shortened 80-yards.
The Bears eventually got the winning title. Spartans were able to grab a winning percentage of 0.750, which assisted in moving Spartans to third place. They were behind Packers.
This game cannot be categorized as a playoff game or a championship game; however, it played a huge role in laying the foundation for NFL Championship game in the year 1933. Therefore, 1932 playoff game was quite interesting, which sparked the interest for NFL Championship game.
Before the Super Bowl
At the beginning of 1933, the league was divided into two conferences. The teams, which were at the first place in the conference were the winners for each of the conference and after the season they met in NFL Championship Game.
There was no system of tie-breaker in beginning and even the venue of the game used to be unknown sometimes until the very last game of the season has been played. There would be a delay of one week as a result of the playoff games. From 1933 to 1966, the play structure, which was in use at that time was considered inequitable. The main reason for considering it inequitable was that there were a number of times when it failed to match the two best records for the teams, which were playing for the championship game.
There was an expansion to 16 teams for the 1967 NFL Season. There was a split in the two conferences as well. There were two divisions and each division consisted of four teams.
Playoff Bowl was a playoff game, which was the third place and played in Miami during the 1960s. The first season was in 1967 and there was scheduled playoff tournament, which would assist in determining the team that would play for NFL Championship.
AFL and AAFC playoffs
There was a time when the format for AFL was quite similar to the NFL in order to determine the championship that is, it was the two-divisional format. This particular format was used by the American Football League in order to determine the champion and eventually AFL merged with NFL. It is important to understand history to get a basic idea. It was for the seasons of 1960-1968. However, there was no tie-breaker system. In 1969’s season there was an addition of first-round and winners would meet at AFL Championship Game. Super Bowl IV was won by the Chiefs and in fact, they were the very first winner of the non-division and were able to win the Super Bowl. AAFC used the playoff format, which was identical to NFL from 1946 to 1948. For the season of 1950, AAFC merged into NFL. A four-team playoff system was used by AAFC in 1949. The first nine seasons of American Football League were from 1960 to 1968 and from the winner of two divisions, it would determine the winner of the championship through a single playoff. There was a playoff inequity after mentioned issue raised in 1948. Knowing the relevant history in detail is quite important to understand the basics.
Super Bowl and merger
Lamar Hunt who is the owner of Kansas City Chiefs is the first person to propose the idea where there was the game between AFL and NFL of the inter-league championship and hence, the foundation for the Super Bowl was laid. There was a full merger between two leagues. The champions of AFL and NFL were featured in games from the season of 1966 to the season of 1969. Champions of American Football Conference and National Football Conference had been featured in the season of 1970 and onwards. The merger of the leagues in 1970 resulted in new NFL, which consisted of 26 teams and there were three divisions of two conferences, which were reorganized. Eight teams were able to qualify for the playoff each year. Out of which there were four teams from each of the conference and from the season of 1970 to the season of 1977. There was a wild-card team ranking fourth and four teams, which were included in the three division champions. There were playoff inequalities because of the rotation system for example, in the year 1971, 1972, and 1973. Until 1975 seeding system for the playoffs was not introduced. The pairing of divisional playoff round could be 2 seed vs. 4 seed and 1 seed vs. 3 seed.
In the season of 1978, there was an expansion from 14 games to 16 games in the regular season. For each of the conference, there was a team with one more wild card. Two of the wild card teams had to play a week before the division winners. The very first wild-card team, which was able to win Super Bowl under the system was Oakland Raiders. There were nine regular-season games played in 1982 season. Usually, the games are played on Sunday except for 1983 and 1988 as the games were played on Saturday and Monday. The main reason was Christmas as it was on Sunday and thus, the NFL had to be avoided playing at that time. Pacific Time Zone was followed for the games in 1984. Wild-card games were hosted by Jets and New York Giants. They share a stadium and thus, games had to be on different days. There was an addition of a third wild card team in the season of 1990. Primetime became common for the games for the very first time in the season of 2001. Thus, there was no longer a restriction for the Pacific Time Zone for the league to follow.
The playoff system, which currently consists of 12 teams has some limitations. Under some of the cases, there is a team, which has a weak division or barely winning record of 0.500. There is some prominent examples season of 2008-2009, the season of 2010-2011, and season of 2014-2015. Seeding issue caused the reason for modification of the playoff format. There was a proposal based on the idea that there should be an expansion to 14 teams. Additional playoff games though were two means that there would be an increased income as a result of the two additional games. When the league had 28 teams there had been a playoff system comprising of 12-team. It is interesting to get an idea about modification proposals.
There were two teams with wild cars in the playoffs of 2007, which had comparatively better records. Roger Goodell in 2013 revisited the idea that there should be an expansion to 14 teams, which led to revisiting this particular idea. Initially there was a suggestion to schedule the games on weekend; however, later it was suggested by Roger Goodell that Friday and Monday would be better; however, there had been a conflict with College Football Playoff. There had been suggestions many times for considering the expansion to 14 teams; however, there is not yet any serious decision and the matter is likely to be postponed by 2020. In February 2015, according to the Washington Post, there had been an erosion of support among owners of the team. There was reluctance on part of leaders to implement any change. There is no more interest in the proposal and it is not raised. Expiration of the collective argument bargaining would assist in determining the decision in the future. It would be interesting to see what happens in the future whether there would be any change or not.