How Many NFL Teams Make the Playoffs: Complete Guide

How Many NFL Teams Make the Playoffs

In the NFL, a total of 14 teams make the playoffs each season. This includes 7 teams from each of the two conferences, the NFC (National Football Conference) and the AFC (American Football Conference). These teams are determined based on regular-season performance and compete in a single-elimination tournament to determine the Super Bowl champion.

NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs are a series of elimination rounds that determine the champion of the league. It is a culmination of the regular season, where the top teams from each conference vie for the prestigious title. Read about How Does the NFL Work

Format of the NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs consist of three rounds: the Wild Card round, the Divisional round, and the Conference Championships, culminating in the Super Bowl.

Number of NFL Teams in the Playoffs

In total, 14 NFL teams make the playoffs each season, seven from each conference—AFC and NFC.


Wild Card Round

The Wild Card round features four games, with the three division winners and the three non-division winners with the best records (wild cards) competing against each other.

Divisional Round

Following the Wild Card round, the Divisional round sees the top seed from each conference face off against the lowest remaining seed, while the second seed plays against the next lowest seed. Discover about How Long Is a Football Game

Conference Championships

The winners of the Divisional round advance to the Conference Championships, where the AFC and NFC champions are determined.

Super Bowl

The culmination of the NFL playoffs is the Super Bowl, where the champions of the AFC and NFC compete for the Lombardi Trophy. Learn about What is Tight End in Football

Playoff Seeding

The seeding of teams in the playoffs is determined by their regular-season records, with the top seed earning home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Criteria for Playoff Qualification

To qualify for the playoffs, teams must either win their respective division or secure one of the three wild card spots in their conference.

Tiebreakers in the NFL

In the event of tied records, the NFL employs a series of tiebreakers to determine playoff seeding, including head-to-head records, conference records, and strength of victory.

Changes to the Playoff Format

Over the years, the NFL has made adjustments to the playoff format to accommodate expansion and ensure fairness in the postseason.

History of NFL Playoffs

The NFL playoffs have a rich history dating back to the league’s inception, with memorable moments and legendary performances etched into football lore.

Impact of Playoffs on NFL Teams

The playoffs bring heightened intensity and pressure, testing the mettle of teams and players as they strive for postseason glory.

NFL Match
NFL Match

Strategies for Making the Playoffs

Teams employ various strategies, including roster management, coaching adjustments, and player development, to position themselves for playoff contention.


The NFL playoffs are a culmination of the hard work and dedication of teams throughout the regular season. With 14 teams vying for supremacy, the journey to the Super Bowl is fraught with excitement and drama, making it a spectacle cherished by football fans worldwide.


  • How are playoff matchups determined in the NFL?
    • Playoff matchups are determined based on seeding, with higher-seeded teams facing lower-seeded teams in each round.
  • Can a team with a losing record make the playoffs?
    • While rare, it is theoretically possible for a team with a losing record to make the playoffs if they win their division.
  • What happens if a playoff game ends in a tie?
    • In the event of a tie in the playoffs, the NFL employs overtime periods to determine the winner.
  • How often do wildcard teams win the Super Bowl?
    • Wildcard teams have won the Super Bowl on several occasions, showcasing the unpredictability of the postseason.
  • What is the significance of home-field advantage in the playoffs?
    • Home-field advantage in the playoffs provides teams with familiar surroundings and enthusiastic fan support, often influencing the outcome of games.

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