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Understanding the NFL Playoffs

Ahh, the long-awaited NFL Playoff. Fans are eager with anticipation, and this year will not disappoint. For 2021-22, each team plays 17 games instead of 16, and we have not seen a game added since 1978.

Super Bowl LVI is scheduled for February 13, 2022, at the SoFi Stadium. It’s about to go down!

As the most popular sports gambling event, last year’s NFL playoffs saw about $270 million in bets. However, the American Gaming Association (AGA) believes it is more like $6.8 billion in illegal and legal handles (been there, won that!).

The stadium, which opened last year, is home to the Rams and Chargers, seating 100,000 excited fans, while millions will tune in on NBC and their cable subscriptions.

The all-star line-up certainly will not disappoint. Produced by Jay-Z, the Pepsi Super Bowl 56 halftime show is the first LA-based Super Bowl in 30 years. Scheduled performers include Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige. And, there is no telling which wildcard performers Dr. Dre might add. Rumor has it that 50 Cent might perform.

Chase the paper as all bets are on this star-studded event. In this case, it’s “nuthin’ but a game-thang, baby!”

Explaining the NFL Playoffs

Are you curious how many teams make the NFL playoffs? We start with three rounds for the AFC and NFC teams. Split over three weekends; the first two rounds eliminate four teams. That third round (third week) determines who goes to the Super Bowl.

To reach the NFL Playoffs 2021, teams play 16 games in the regular season (but, this year, it is 17). While 12 teams qualify, there are 14 teams with the additional team from both conferences this year. Playoff seeds receive their ranking (highest, lowest) based on their positions and divisions.

The winners of the NFC and AFC (4 divisions) make up eight places, while the two second-place teams are the wildcard teams. The outcome of a single-elimination game determines who wins the round. They then advance to the Super Bowl in the final round, where a champion will be crowned.

The Teams Include:

American Football Conference (AFC)

  • AFC North: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers
  • AFC East: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Patriots
  • AFC South: Colts, Jaguars, Texans, Titans
  • AFC West: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders

National Football Conference (NFC)

  • NFC North: Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings
  • NFC East: Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Washington
  • NFC South: Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints
  • NFC West: 49ers, Cardinals, Rams Seahawks

Wildcard Weekend

The top seeds are the only ones that can carry first-round byes. Hence, they do not play Wild Card games.

Everyone is asking when the NFL playoffs are, so they do not miss a game. For the 2022 NFL postseason, there are six Wild Card games. Three games are on Saturday, January 15, 2022, and three are on Sunday, January 16. Keep in mind that a wildcard team can knock out a division winner in the first round.

Divisional Round

The Wild Card winners advance to the next leg, the Divisional Round, and the top seeds will play. The game occurs at the home of the number one seed. They play the Wild Card winner with the lowest seed. The second seed team plays the highest seed, and whoever wins the two rounds moves to the Conference Championships.

Here is the Breakdown:

  • Game #1: The (#4-Seed plays the #5-Seed) at the home of the #1-Seed
  • Game #2: The (#6-Seed plays the #3-Seed) versus the (#7-Seed plays the #2-Seed) at the home of the higher seed

Conference Championships

The Divisional Round winners advance to the Conference Championship for an NFC and AFC game to determine who plays in the Super Bowl. Ultimately, the winner becomes the National Football League champions.

How Playoff Results Determine Future NFL Draft Picks

The NFL Draft takes the first 18 teams with the worst records in reverse order. Hence, teams with the worst record get the first pick. However, the league bases draft order on NFL playoff performance, not the regular NFL season record. If a team loses early in the regular season, they receive a higher draft pick.

  • Draft Picks #19-24 go to the 6 Wild Card losing teams and in reverse order of their regular NFL season record
  • Draft Picks #25-28 go to the 4 Divisional Round losing teams and in reverse order…
  • Draft Picks #29-30 go to the 2 Conference Championship losing teams and in reverse order…
  • Draft Pick #31 goes to the loser of the Super Bowl
  • Draft Pick #32 goes to whoever wins the Super Bowl

5 Teams That Will Make It to the Playoffs

Unsurprisingly, the teams that make it to the playoffs look similar each year. That is because it’s hard for pretenders to become contenders. But, shift happens:

  • For the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals made a great addition by adding wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Are we thinking MVP with Murray or Hopkins? With a Wild Card spot, can they overtake the Seahawks or Rams?
  • The Miami Dolphins are bringing the heat for the AFC East after sweeping changes. Tagovailoa had extensive rehab for his hip, and the offense is back under control with Godsey and Studesville. They also picked up free agency and draft players.
  • The Broncos, recovering from a 5-11 record, did not get Aaron Rodgers, but I feel good about Teddy Bridgewater. Von Miller’s back after his ACL injury, and with their off-season additions, they will be a contender for the AFC wildcard.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers have Justen Hebert, Offensive Rookie of the Year. Their offense looks better with Rashawn Slater, while Brandon Staley is the new head coach. And Derwin James is back after healing his meniscus.
  • The Dallas Cowboys are favored to win the NFC East, and Dak Prescott is back. They also made additions on the defensive side, had an easy schedule, and looked healthier.

Betting On The NFL Playoffs

Betting on the playoffs is popular but unpredictable. There is so much parity, unlike the regular season, i.e., anything goes once the knockout rounds begin. Teams with a bad record can still make the playoffs, and long-term injuries (Detroit Lions), might be season-ending. Hence, it is an excellent time to think about prop bets and point spreads.

Prop bets increase once the playoffs start, and you can gamble on a host of different outcomes. Despite having fewer games, sportsbooks see activity comparable to the regular season. However, for serious money, you want the safest betting sites.

A Few Tips:

Bet Smart

Remove your personal bias, do your research, and play the odds. Despite them not lining up with your picks, now is not the time to hate a player or team. Find a reliable sportsbook and do not overbet (avoid postseason regrets, empty pockets).

Do Not Rely Strictly on Commentary

Correlation does not equal causation. Meaning, assumptions based on stats can be inaccurate. And, commentators (Aikmen, Collingsworth, Romo, Buck) might have biases. Therefore, aside from historical data, go by the roster, not statistical variance.

Focus On the Team

Teams that consistently win fall flat, too. Hence, don’t overvalue a single player’s performance or off-day. Instead, explore the point differential with advanced data metrics. Check out Football Power Index (FPI), DVOA Ratings, or Pro Football Reference.

Review the Regular Season

Please do not assume a team that made the playoffs earned it. Assess their route. Was their 13-3 record the result of beating several poor teams? Did a team that is 10-6 but made the playoffs beat all big-name teams?

Review the Stats

Once the playoffs start, review the stats to gain valuable insight (injuries, player weaknesses). You can also get caught up on the games you missed.

The NFL is Making a Comeback!

The upcoming playoffs are exciting, and fans are already placing their bets. But it is hard work making picks as everything is subject to change. Injuries can occur, the form can drop, and teams can look dramatically different by January. Hence, the best bet for NFL predictions is to check out a few sportsbooks and prop bets. Or, do your NFL playoff bracket in pencil (and let your bookie know it was a typo or technical glitch!). No flag on this play.

Author Bio

Who Dat? Kassandra Hall writes for Safest Betting Sites. She is a sports writer who is avid about golf, biking, basketball, and football. Interested in keeping her audiences engaged with a humorous take, she tackles various sports and is a New Orleans Saints fan.

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