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2022/23 NFL post season: how do wild cards work for play-off qualification?

Wild-card teams are the ones with the best record who didn’t win their division. The NFL Super Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday, Jan.14.

Wild-card teams are the ones with the best record who didn't win their division. The NFL Super Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday, Jan.14.

The National Football League (NFL) postseason is scheduled to begin on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, with the NFC’s second-seeded San Francisco 49ers playing host to No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks.

The four division winners in each NFL conference will make up eight of the contenders, while the number of wild cards on each side of the playoffs was increased from two to three last year.

How do NFL play-off wild cards work?

The NFL is divided into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). During the regular season, these two sections are in turn split up into four divisions of four teams - north, south, east and west - with the winners of each going through to the play-offs, in which the two conferences remain separated until the Super Bowl.

The remaining six postseason places are given to three wild-card qualifiers from each conference. These spots go to the teams with the best win-loss-tie records outside the division champions.

While the division winners are seeded one to four in the playoffs  depending on their record during the regular season, the wild cards are seeded five to seven.

The top seeds in the AFC and in the NFC both get a bye in the first phase of the play-offs, which is known as the wild-card round. Meanwhile, the second seed hosts the seventh seed, the third seed hosts the sixth seed and the fourth seed hosts the fifth seed.

After the wild-card round, the teams from the AFC and NFC must negotiate two further playoff stages - the four-team divisional round and the two-team conference championships - before the winners of each conference go head to head in the Super Bowl.

As in the wild-card round, the divisional round pits the highest seed against the lowest seed. Throughout the conference playoffs, the higher-seeded team is given home advantage.

Super Bowl LVII is scheduled to be played on Sunday, Feb. 12.


2021/22 NFL play-offs: Super Wild Card schedule

Saturday, January 14

NFC 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT

Seattle Seahawks (7) @ San Francisco 49ers (2)

AFC 8:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 p.m PT

Los Angeles Chargers (5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4)

Sunday, January 15

AFC 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT

Miami Dolphins (7) @ Buffalo Bills (2)

NFC: 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT

New York Giants (6) @ Minnesota Vikings (3)

AFC: 8:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 PT

Baltimore Ravens (6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3)

Monday, January 16

NFC 8:15 ET / 5:15 PT

Dallas Cowboys (5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)


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