What Is the NFL Playoff Tree?


Quick Answer

An NFL playoff tree, or "bracket," features the names of the 12 teams qualifying for the postseason. The bracket is split into two sections of teams, each seeded 1 through 6 to represent participants from the AFC and NFC. The winner of each contest advances to the next round of the bracket, appearing on the line above or below the upcoming opponent.

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Full Answer

The playoff bracket automatically includes the winners of the North, South, East and West Divisions of each conference, while the last two spots on each side are occupied by the two non-division winners with the best regular season record. Division champions are seeded 1 through 4 - based on overall record - and Wild Card teams are designated as No. 5 and No. 6.

The first weekend of action pits the No. 6 seed playing at the No. 3 seed, while the No. 4 club plays host to the No. 5 seed. The top two teams in each conference receive a first-round bye, with the top seed hosting the lowest-seeded winner at home the following weekend, and the No. 2 seed hosting the highest remaining seed.

The two teams in each conference surviving the second weekend of action play in the AFC and NFC Championship games the following week. The two conference champions - appearing as the lone remaining team from each side of the bracket - advance to meet in the Super Bowl two weeks later.

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