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When do the NFL playoffs start?

NFL teams wrap up their regular season this weekend. Then, the real fun begins

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Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) runs against San Francisco 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown (27) during a game, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023.

Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) runs against San Francisco 49ers safety Ji’Ayir Brown (27) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Dec. 25, 2023.

Jed Jacobsohn, Associated Press

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Jan. 5, 2023. It has been updated to reflect this year’s NFL playoffs schedule.

This weekend marks the 18th and final week of the NFL’s regular season, and it will feature several high-stakes contests.

Teams like the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still fighting for a spot in the playoffs, and need to win to have the best chance to get in.

After this weekend’s action, football fans won’t have to wait long to see more exciting games. The NFL playoffs start the week after the regular season ends, meaning the first few playoff games will be scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13.

How many teams make the NFL playoffs?

Fourteen teams make the NFL playoffs, but only 12 take part in the first round.

The top seed in each conference receives a bye, giving them extra time to rest and get healthy after the regular season. The Baltimore Ravens (AFC) and San Francisco 49ers (NFC) have already clinched this year’s top seeds.

How do the NFL playoffs work?

The NFL playoffs consist of four rounds of competition: wild-card weekend, the divisional round, the conference championships and the Super Bowl. After each round, the winners move on, while the losers bid farewell to the 2023-24 season.

During the first three rounds, teams compete against members of their own conference. Then, the Super Bowl brings together the two teams that won the conference championship games.

Although playoff seeding is set at the end of the regular season, playoff matchups are not. Each round’s pairings won’t be finalized until league officials know the highest and lowest remaining seeds.

In other words, the two top seeds don’t know which team they’ll face during the divisional round until after the wild-card round is complete. They only know they’ll play the lowest remaining seed, whether that’s No. 4 or No. 7.

When do the 2023 NFL playoffs start?

The NFL playoffs kick off on Saturday, Jan. 13, this year. The wild-card round spans from that day to Monday, Jan. 15.

The divisional round is scheduled for the next weekend (Jan. 20-21) and then the conference championship games are set for Sunday, Jan.28.

The two conference champions then get a week off before the Super Bowl, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 11, this year.