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NFL Playoff 2020: how many teams qualify?

In the past, 12 teams advanced to the NFL postseason, but for the first time, it will be 14 teams making the field to contend for the Super Bowl.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 26: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers speaks with Adrian Peterson #28 of the Detroit Lions following a game at Ford Field on December 26, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan.   Rey Del Rio/Getty Images/AFP
Rey Del RioAFP

The NFL expanded its playoff field for the 2020 season, and that means more teams are in the hunt in the season's final weeks.

The start of the NFL playoffs is almost upon us. However, there is still a lot to be decided before the postseason begins, as only seven of the 14 spots have been secured.

How many teams make the NFL playoffs in 2020?

In the past, 12 teams have advanced to the NFL postseason, but for the first time, it'll be 14 teams making the field to contend for the Super Bowl. NFL clubs voted to expand the postseason by two teams for the 2020 season, increasing the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14.

It's a move that adds two games to the overall postseason calendar, along with two markets that otherwise would've had their season ended.

The 2020 NFL playoffs will feature 14 teams overall, seven from the AFC and seven from the NFC. That's a new expansion for the 2020 season that means each conference gets three wild-card teams in addition to the four division winners.

On January 3, all 32 teams will be in action. And with two division titles up for grabs and multiple wild-card spots available, several franchises are facing must-win games in Week 17.

The NFL expanded the playoffs prior to 2020 from the most recent format of six teams in each conference. The larger field doesn't mean any difference in the number of postseason rounds, but it does affect the number of byes. Instead of the top-two seeds in each conference getting a first-round bye, now only the top seed in each conference moves straight to the divisional round.

Two additional franchises

The expansion meant that the NFL would have two additional franchises in the postseason, along with two additional games to be played. 

The NFL did approve a contingency planin 2020 to expand the playoffs to 16 teams if covid-19 prevents the chance to play a meaningful game (which would likely mean not even in a created Week 18).

NFL playoff bracket 2020

The latest NFL playoffs matchups, through Week 16:


1. Kansas City Chiefs (bye)

2. Buffalo Bills vs. 7. Cleveland Browns

3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. 6. Baltimore Ravens

4. Tennessee Titans vs. 5. Miami Dolphins


1. Green Bay Packers (bye)

2. New Orleans Saints vs. 7. Chicago Bears

3. Seattle Seahawks vs. 6. Los Angeles Rams

4. Washington Football Team vs. 5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady inspires Bucs

Tom Brady made history in his 300th NFL regular-season game to power the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first playoff appearance since 2007.

Brady helped end Tampa Bay's 13-year wait for a postseason berth after fuelling Saturday's 47-7 demolition of the Detroit Lions.

The 43-year-old superstar became the only NFL player in history to play for 20-plus seasons with one team – the Patriots – and later make the playoffs with another, per NFL Research. Brady is also the first player in the league's history to reach the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons.

"I love playing and the team-mates that I have -- I always feel like I never want to let them down," Brady told reporters post-game after he was replaced by Blaine Gabbert to start the third quarter.


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