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How many teams make the NFL playoffs? Updated standings for 2022 playoff bracket



For the second year in a row, fans of 14 different NFL teams will be able to celebrate their team reaching the playoffs.

The NFL expanded the postseason format from 12 to 14 teams in 2020, and that is the case again in 2021, with seven teams from each conference reaching the postseason and the top seed from each getting a first-round bye.

The playoff picture remains tight in both conferences, with five AFC teams tied at an 8-6 record and three teams tied in the NFC at 7-7 all vying for the final wild card spots. And with plenty of key games remaining on the schedule, the final spots are certain to come down to the wire.

Sporting News is breaking down the current playoff picture, along with the brackets and tiebreaker formats for the league.

MORE: Everything to know about the 2022 NFL playoffs

How many teams make the NFL playoffs in 2022?

There will be seven teams that reach the NFL playoffs in each conference, meaning 14 teams total will end the 2021 regular season with a chance to win a Super Bowl.

As of the end of Week 15, only five teams have been completely eliminated from the discussion: the Jaguars, Lions, Texans, Jets and Bears. Only one team has officially punched their ticket, with the Packers having clinched the NFC North with a win on Sunday against the Ravens.

NFL playoff bracket 2022

Here’s a look at the latest NFL playoffs matchups for 2021, updated through Week 15.

AFC

  1. Chiefs (bye)
  2. Patriots vs. 7. Bills
  3. Titans vs. 6. Chargers
  4. Bengals vs. 5. Colts

NFC

  1. Packers (bye)
  2. Cowboys vs. 7. Vikings
  3. Buccaneers vs. 6. 49ers
  4. Cardinals vs. 5.ย Rams

NFL playoff picture

AFC

Seed Team Record Position
1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 Home-field advantage leader
2. New England Patriots 9-5 AFC East leader
3. Tennessee Titans 9-5 AFC South leader
4. Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 AFC North leader
5. Indianapolis Colts 8-6 Wild-card spot
6. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6 Wild-card spot
7. Buffalo Bills 8-6 Wild-card spot

NFC

Seed Team Record Position
1. Green Bay Packers* 11-3 Home-field advantage leader
2. Dallas Cowboys 10-4 NFC East leader
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4 NFC South leader
4. Arizona Cardinals 10-4 NFC West leader
5. Los Angeles Rams 9-4 Wild-card spot
6. San Francisco 49ers 8-6 Wild-card spot
7. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 Wild-card spot

*Clinched playoff berth

NFL tiebreakers for playoffs

The NFL has a long system to decide how each team will get into the playoffs to avoid a potential tiebreaking game for any of the spots. They have slightly different tiebreaker formats to decide who advances between the division leaders and the wild card spots.

Here’s how the NFL will break a division lead tie between two teams. The same tiebreaker applies to three or more teams, with the only difference being that in step three, there needs to be a minimum of four common games.ย If only two teams remain tied after the third step, or another is eliminated, the tiebreaker goes back to the first step.

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in common games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss

Here’s how the league would break a tie in the wild card between two different teams.

  1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
  2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  4. Strength of victory.
  5. Strength of schedule.
  6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best net points in conference games.
  9. Best net points in all games.
  10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  11. Coin toss.

Here’s how it would shake out for three different teams tied for a wild card spot.

  1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.
  2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
  3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
  5. Strength of victory.
  6. Strength of schedule.
  7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  9. Best net points in conference games.
  10. Best net points in all games.
  11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
  12. Coin toss



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