When do the NFL playoffs start in 2022? Date, TV schedule & updated AFC, NFC playoff brackets

NFL playoff picture: Projecting the seeds & matchups for AFC, NFC brackets for Week 15

The 2021 NFL season has been anything but predictable. The AFC features a mess of teams jockeying for position atop the conference and several six- and seven-win teams battling for Wild Card spots. The NFC has a more defined power structure, but the final two Wild Card spots are anybody’s game.

That is going to make the chase for 2022 playoff spots exciting as the NFL’s regular season winds down.

The NFL playoffs switched to a 14-team format last season, so there are a couple more playoff spots up for grabs than usual. That will give more teams a shot at making the postseason, especially with the league playing its first 17-game season.

Below is everything you need to know about the NFL playoffs for 2022, including dates and a TV schedule for each round, how all the tiebreakers work and how the playoff picture currently shakes out. 

MORE: Explaining the NFL’s expanded playoffs

When do the NFL playoffs start in 2022?

  • Wild-card round: Jan. 15-17
  • Divisional round: Jan. 22-23
  • Conference championships: Jan. 30
  • Super Bowl 56: Feb. 13 

The NFL postseason will feature seven teams from each conference in 2022. It marks the second year since the NFL expanded to a 14-team postseason in which the No. 1 seed in each conference is the only one to receive a bye week.

This year, the entire NFL postseason has shifted back by a week, as the NFL has added an extra week to its regular season. That means that the playoffs will start in mid-January instead of early in the month and the Super Bowl will be on the second Sunday in February instead of the first.

NFL playoff bracket

Here’s a look at the complete NFL playoff bracket for 2022:

AFC

1. Kansas City Chiefs (bye)
2. New England Patriots vs. 7. Buffalo Bills
3. Tennessee Titans vs. 6. Los Angeles Chargers
4. Cincinnati Bengals vs. 5. Indianapolis Colts

NFC

1. Green Bay Packers (bye)
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. 7. Washington Football Team
3. Dallas Cowboys vs. 6. San Francisco 49ers
4. Arizona Cardinals vs. 5. Los Angeles Rams

NFL playoff schedule 2022

Wild-card round

Saturday, Jan. 15

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 4:35 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 8:15 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV

Sunday, Jan. 16

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 1:05 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 4:40 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 8:15 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV

Monday, Jan. 17

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC/NFC Wild-Card Round 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN ESPN App, fuboTV

Divisional round

Saturday, Jan. 22

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC Divisional Round TBA TBA fuboTV
NFC Divisional Round TBA TBA fuboTV

Sunday, Jan. 23

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC Divisional Round TBA TBA fuboTV
NFC Divisional Round TBA TBA fuboTV

Conference championships

Sunday, Jan. 30

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
AFC Championship Game 3:05 p.m. ET CBS Paramount+, fuboTV
NFC Championship Game 6:40 p.m. ET Fox Fox Sports app, fuboTV

Super Bowl 56

Sunday, Feb. 13

Matchup Start time TV channel Live stream
Super Bowl 56 6:30 p.m. ET NBC NBC Sports app, fuboTV

MORE: Watch NFL playoff games live on fuboTV (7-day free trial)

How do the NFL playoffs work?

The NFL postseason will take place in 2022, though the teams that qualify will be based on the results from the 2021 NFL season. This will mark the second postseason during which the NFL will feature 14 total playoff teams, seven in each conference. That means there will be only one team in each conference that gets a bye week.

The seeding for the postseason works as follows. The No. 1 seed will be the division champion with the best record. The Nos. 2 through 4 seeds will be the other division winners ranked from the best record to the worst. The final three seeds will be the best remaining non-divisional winners. The best wild-card team will take the No. 5 seed while the second-best team will get the No. 6 seed. The No. 7 seed will go to the third-best wild card team.

The team with the higher seed gets home-field advantage in each playoff game from the wild-card round through the AFC and NFC championship games.

Below are the NFL’s tiebreaking procedures for the NFL playoff field.

To break a tie in division standings:

(Between two teams)

  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

(Between three or more teams)

  1. Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games among 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

To break a tie in wild-card standings:

(Between two 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.

(Between three or more teams)

  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

Current NFL playoff picture

Here’s how the standings in both conferences break down following Week 15, along with the other teams that are still in the playoff hunt. 

Seed Team Record Clinched
1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-4 N/a
2. New England Patriots 9-5 N/a
3. Tennessee Titans 9-5 N/a
4. Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 N/a
5. Indianapolis Colts 8-6 N/a
6. Los Angeles Chargers 8-6 N/a
7. Buffalo Bills 8-6 N/a

In the hunt: Baltimore Ravens (8-6), Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6-1), Las Vegas Raiders (7-7), Miami Dolphins (7-7), Cleveland Browns (7-7), Denver Broncos (7-7)

Seed Team Record Clinched
1. Green Bay Packers 11-3 NFC North
2. Dallas Cowboys 10-4 N/a
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-4 N/a
4. Arizona Cardinals 10-4 N/a
5. Los Angeles Rams 9-4 N/a
6. San Francisco 49ers 8-6 N/a
7. Minnesota Vikings 7-7 N/a

In the hunt: Philadelphia Eagles (7-7), New Orleans Saints (7-7), Washington Football Team (6-8), Atlanta Falcons (6-8), Carolina Panthers (5-9), Seattle Seahawks (5-9)





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.