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2021 NFL Playoff Picture: When do the playoffs start?

The 2021 NFL season has brought so many surprises, and this late in the game a lot of spots in the playoffs are still up for grabs for a number of teams.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 waits to take the snap from center Lucas Patrick #62 of the Green Bay Packers in the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on December 19, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryl
Rob CarrAFP

As the 2021 NFL season winds down, the competition is still heating up as a number of teams are still battling it out for a place in the playoffs.

Teams in the AFC are still elbowing their way to the top, as many of those with six or seven wins are scrambling for Wild Cards. The NFC rankings are shaping up more quickly, but the final standings are still far from clear.

Other NFL stories:

14-team format

This is the second year that 14 teams will join the playoffs, with seven teams from each conference. Only the number one seeds in the AFC and the NFC will receive a bye week.

The playoff race is proving to be tight to the finish. Heading into Week 16, only the Green Bay Packers have sealed a spot, after securing first place in the NFL North division.

At this point, only five teams have been officially been declared out of the running- the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Detroit Lion, and Chicago Bears.

With the different teams’ standings being so close, their positions can still change in the next two weeks.

Here’s how the NFL playoff picture is looking like so far.


1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-4

2. New England Patriots 9-5

3. Tennessee Titans 9-5

4. Cincinnati Bengals 8-6

5. Indianapolis Colts 8-6

6. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6

7. Buffalo Bills 8-6


1. Green Bay Packers 11-3 (guaranteed playoff spot as NFC North leader)

2. Dallas Cowboys 10-4

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4

4. Arizona Cardinals 10-4

5. Los Angeles Rams 9-4

6. San Francisco 49ers 8-6

7. Minnesota Vikings 7-7

2021-22 NFL Playoff schedule

Wild-card round

Date: Saturday, Jan. 15


AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 4:35 p.m. ET

AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 8:15 p.m. ET

Date: Sunday, Jan. 16


AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 1:05 p.m. ET

AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 4:40 p.m. ET

AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 8:15 p.m. ET

Date: Monday, Jan. 17


AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round- 8:15 p.m. ET

Divisional round

Date: Saturday, Jan. 22


AFC Divisional Round

NFC Divisional Round

Date: Sunday, Jan. 23

AFC Divisional Round

NFC Divisional Round

Conference championships

Date: Sunday, Jan. 30

AFC Championship Game- 3:05 p.m. ET

NFC Championship Game- 6:40 p.m. ET

Super Bowl 56

Date: Sunday, Feb. 13


Super Bowl 56- 6:30 p.m. ET