Things get intense once the NFL Playoffs roll around. The culmination of a gruelling NFL regular season is a four-week tournament featuring the best teams in the league with the winner eventually crowned Super Bowl champion.
The drama plays out in real-time in front of a completely engrossed NFL fanbase. Winners advance to play another day while the losers face an offseason of coming to terms with what went wrong. Television ratings are astronomical for the NFL Playoffs, and the betting volume for every one of the games is among the most impressive of the calendar year.
For this season and moving forward, the NFL Playoffs are about to get even better. Additional teams have been invited to the dance, and the format has been tweaked a bit as a result.
Check the feed below for real-time NFL playoff odds at legal US online sportsbooks. Use the drop-down menus to change your odds boards or your state. Click on any odds to jump right to the sportsbook, claim your bonus, open your account and get your bet in.
Once the playoff matchups for Wild Card Weekend are official, sportsbooks will quickly release odds and lines for the games. They’ll do the same for all subsequent rounds of the NFL Playoffs. The main odds listing will feature the top bet types and look something like this:
The three sets of numbers you see next to the two team names are for the point spread, moneyline, and total. In our example, the Chiefs are favored by 2.5 points and the moneyline favorite in a game with a protected total of 49.5 points. Here’s how the bets work.
Beyond the standard game bets, you’ll also find odds for what will happen over the course of the NFL playoffs. These are futures bets, and the market for them remains active all year round. Once it’s postseason time, there will be odds for all teams still alive in the chase. You’ll be able to bet on things such as:
There will also be odds for assorted prop bets for each game. Many of them revolve around player performances, such as which player will score the first TD in the game. Additionally, once the games get underway, you’ll see new odds for all of the available live betting opportunities.
When it’s time to get your NFL playoff bets in, it’s important to remember that the odds won’t be exactly the same at every sportsbook. You can find notable differences by simply taking the time to engage in what’s known as line shopping.
As an example, the DraftKings app may have the spread set at 2.5 points for a contest, while the FanDuel app has it at 3.0 for the same game. On the moneyline, BetMGM sportsbook could be at -150 for a favorite, while William Hill sportsbook offers a price of -142.
Those differences may not seem like much at first glance. However, a half-point difference can legitimately be the difference between winning or losing a spread bet. For moneyline, your potential profit rises with every favorable tick downward.
If you don’t line shop, you won’t know anything about these differences. Instead of just accepting whatever price is listed on a game, take the few minutes to compare prices at multiple shops. It can make a big difference on your bottom line for NFL playoff betting.
After a long offseason, NFL teams begin reporting to training camp over the summer. The countdown to the real deal officially begins around this time. There are some preseason games to whet the appetite, but that just makes the anticipation grow even stronger.
The NFL regular season typically kicks off on the Thursday after Labor Day with a standalone primetime game. From there, it’s on to a full Sunday slate of games, followed by a doubleheader on Monday Night Football.
From early September to late December or early January, there are 17 weeks of NFL regular-season action. Each team will play 16 games over this span while having one week off. Here’s the basic formula that the NFL schedule makers follow while putting it all together.
The schedule is structured with an eye towards parity and fairness. Each club gets eight home and eight away games, but international games can impact one side of the equation for certain teams.
While the schedule makers do their best to even things out, it’s tough to make everyone happy. There are times when teams have long stretched home or away each season. However, all teams have to deal with that at some point, so it evens out in the long run.
Once the 17 weeks of the NFL regular season are in the books, the top squads earn berths in the postseason. In year’s past, it was six teams from both the AFC and NFC that made the NFL Playoffs for a total of 12 squads, but times are changing.
The NFL Playoffs will now include 14 teams — seven each from both the AFC and NFC. Before we break down how it will come together, let’s take a quick look back at where we came from.
Since 1990, there have been 12 teams in the NFL Playoff field each season. Initially, it was the three division winners in each conference, along with a trio of Wild Card teams on each side. In 2002, the NFL reorganized into four divisions in each conference due to expansion.
The format of 12 teams remained the same, but it shifted to four division winners and a pair of Wild Card teams from each conference. That structure remained in place through the 2019 campaign.
The 12-team field was set so that the top two seeds in each conference received a bye into the Divisional Round. The other four teams in the conference field played on Wild Card Weekend with the winners advancing to face off with the higher-seeded teams.
Now that there will be 14 teams in the field, the first-round bye has become even more of a reward. The top seed in each conference gets a pass for the opening round of the NFL Playoffs, while the remainder will settle it on the field to see who moves on.
The NFL Playoffs open up with the Wild Card round, which has been expanded from four to six games to accommodate the additional team in each conference. The same seeding rules remain in effect for the new system.
The top team in the conference takes down the first seed and receives a bye. The remaining three division winners are seeds two through four based on the record. It’s the same for the Wild Card teams as they get seeded five through seven.
What happens when teams have the same record? We’ll cover the tie-breaking procedures in a bit. For now, here’s what the matchups will look like based on seeds in both conferences.
The higher seeds, or all of the division winners, get home-field advantage for the games. As for the schedule, it calls for a trio of games on Saturday followed by three more on Sunday. Wild Card Weekend will live up to its name even further moving forward.
The winners of the six Wild Card games advance to the NFL Divisional Round, which some observers view as the best overall weekend of football of the season. The top seed in both conferences will be waiting. Here’s how the matchups shake out on both sides.
The top seed in the conference has a home field in their matchup. For the other game, it’s also determined by seed with the higher-ranked squad earning the right to play at home.
A pair of games are held on Saturday, followed by two more on Sunday. The winners of the Divisional Round move one step closer to the Big Game.
The AFC and NFC Championship games both take place on Sunday. In recent years, one has been booked for the mid-afternoon window, while the other is scheduled to kickoff closer to primetime.
Once again, the home-field advantage is determined by seed. In the case of the top seed in the conference, they enter the NFL Playoffs knowing that they’ll play at home throughout as long as they remain alive.
Meanwhile, the number seven seed in both conferences has no hope for a home playoff game. Instead, they would have to win three straight on the road to make it to the Super Bowl.
Upsets happen in the NFL Playoffs, and the home field is no guarantee of advancement to the next round. As for the title tilts, the winners of the two Conference Championship Games advance to play in the Super Bowl.
Every game matters in the NFL Regular Season from a betting perspective and the same holds in the standings. Those who notch the best records will reach the postseason, while the 18 other NFL teams get a jump start on the offseason.
The top overall seed in the conference will be one of the four division winners, who are ranked in order by the record with tiebreakers used as needed. The final three spots in each conference are the Wild Card teams.
They’re also seeded in order by the record. There are no requirements in place in terms of Wild Card clubs coming from different divisions. In theory, that means that all four teams from a single division could reach the postseason under the new format.
The top seed gets a bye to the Divisional Round, while the other three division winners get home games on Wild Card Weekend. As the rounds move forward, the higher-seeded team in a matchup gets home field.
As mentioned, NFL teams finish with the same record all of the time. Naturally, that’ll have a bearing on how the postseason field is decided. Here’s how it gets worked out.
The NFL applies a detailed set of tie-breaking rules to determine seeds in the case of ties in the record, as well as to figure out who gets the playoff spots when multiple teams with the same record are in the running.
Tiebreakers can also be needed to decide division winners. To break ties of two teams that come up, the NFL works through the following 12-step process.
The same procedure can also be used when three or more teams are involved. In cases such as this, the process is worked through until a team is eliminated. It’s then restarted at the top and worked through as many times as needed until the tie is broken.
To break ties for Wild Card purposes, there are two choices. When the teams are from the same division, the same 12 steps can be followed in order. If the clubs are from different divisions, step two — winning percentage in division games — is eliminated to make an 11-step process.
So how is home field priority determined for the division winners? What about for the Wild Card squads? It’s simply a matter of working through the applicable 12- or 11-step system to finding the answer.
The tie-breaking procedure takes a little getting used to when first exposed to it, but closer analysis shows that it’s a solid system. Also, it helps to further place in perspective the importance of divisional and conference games during the regular season.
Every NFL game attracts lots of betting action, and interest is even higher come playoff time. You can follow the same handicapping principles that you normally would when the postseason rolls around, but there’s a handful of specific points you’ll want to keep in mind when betting on the NFL.
While teams are seeded one through seven on both sides based on overall strength, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Some clubs enter the playoffs on high notes, while others are backing in. Taking the time to think this through can be one of the keys to spotting postseason upsets.
If two teams matched up for the playoffs have squared off in the regular season, then you have some recent data to analyze. How did the gameplay out? If they haven’t played, then you can dig into common opponents and how they fared. Little clues such as this can help point out matchup advantages and disadvantages.
Some resources track the flow of public money in percentage form, so be sure to take the time to research this valuable point. Sharp money can be a little more challenging to pinpoint, but you can keep your eyes peeled for things such as sudden line moves as a potential indicator.
Speaking of line moves, this also helps you to figure out which way the winds are blowing on public sentiment. Make note of the opening lines and compare them to where they currently stand in the days leading up to the game. Also, remember to shop around at multiple operators to find the most attractive odds.
Last but not least, you won’t be lacking for opinions on how the games are going to play out. While there’s nothing wrong with respecting the takes of sources you trust, too much noise can leave you with a lack of clarity on which way you want to go. Remember to trust your instincts and treat your research as the final word.
Some NFL franchises have quite the track record when it comes to the postseason. Others? Not so much. Here’s a look at the total appearances in the NFL Playoffs for all 32 teams along with what happened the last time they made it that far.
|Team||Playoff Berths||Last Appearance
|Dallas Cowboys||33||2018 - Lost Divisional Round|
|Green Bay Packers||33||2019 - Lost NFC Championship Game|
|New York Giants||32||2016 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||31||2017 - Lost Divisional Round|
|Minnesota Vikings||30||2019 - Lost Divisional Round|
|Los Angeles Rams||29||2018 - Lost Super Bowl
|Chicago Bears||28||2018 - Lost Wild Card Game
|Indianapolis Colts||28||2018 - Lost Divisional Round
|New England Patriots||27||2019 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Philadelphia Eagles ||27||2019 - Lost Wild Card Game
|San Francisco 49ers||27||2019 - Lost Super Bowl
|Cleveland Browns||24||2002 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Washington Football Team||24||2015 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Miami Dolphins||23||2016 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Tennessee Titans||23||2019 - Lost AFC Championship Game
|Denver Broncos||22||2015 - Won Super Bowl
|Kansas City Chiefs||22||2019 - Won Super Bowl|
|Las Vegas Raiders||22||2016 - Lost Wild Card Game
|Los Angeles Chargers||19||2018 - Lost Divisional Round
|Buffalo Bills||18||2019 - Lost Wild Card Game
|Seattle Seahawks||18||2019 - Lost Divisional Round
|Detroit Lions||17||2016 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Atlanta Falcons||14||2017 - Lost Divisional Round|
|Cincinnati Bengals||14||2015 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|New York Jets||14||2010 - Lost AFC Championship Game|
|New Orleans Saints||13||2019 - Lost Wild Card Game
|Baltimore Ravens||12||2019 - Lost Divisional Round
|Arizona Cardinals||10||2015 - Lost NFC Championship Game|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||10||2007 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Carolina Panthers||8||2017 - Lost Wild Card Game|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||7||2017 - Lost AFC Championship Game
|Houston Texans||6||2019 - Lost Divisional Round|
There are routinely some close calls with teams coming up just short of the NFL Playoffs. A seventh team making the dance in each conference equals something else to strive for, but there will still be clubs that just miss. If we look back over the past five seasons, here’s what the field would’ve looked like if the new format was in place.
On the AFC side, the Steelers were the bubble team with a mark of 8-8, while the Rams were on the outside looking in at the NFC with a record of 9-7. The Chiefs and Titans faced off in the AFC title game, while it was 49ers vs. Packers in the NFC. The Chiefs would go on to defeat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
Once again, it was the Steelers who just missed out on the AFC side with a record of 9-6-1. The Vikings came up just short in the NFC at 8-7-1. The Patriots beat the Chiefs for the AFC crown, while the Rams handled the Saints to take the NFC. The Patriots would go on to victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
The Ravens and Chargers were the next in line in the AFC with matching records of 9-7. The former would’ve made it with a better conference winning percentage. There was a three-way tie at 9-7 for the 7th spot in the NFC. The Lions would’ve won tiebreakers over the Seahawks and Cowboys. It was Patriots over Jaguars in the AFC title game, and Eagles over Vikings in the NFC. The Eagles took down the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The Titans and Broncos were tied at 9-7 in the AFC, but the former had the tiebreaker advantage. The Buccaneers would’ve been the 7th seed in the NFC at 9-7. The Patriots defeated the Steelers to win the AFC, while it was Falcons over Packers in the NFC. The Patriots came out on top of the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Jets just missed out on the party in the AFC at 10-6, while the Falcons would’ve been the last participant in the NFC at 8-8. The Broncos won the AFC title game over the Patriots, while it was the Panthers defeating the Cardinals in the NFC. The Broncos won Super Bowl 50 by a score of 24-10 over the Panthers.
Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been some memorable upsets in the postseason. In recent times, we’ve seen some stunners that have shaken up the landscape. Here’s a look back at five that moved the needle in the NFL Playoffs.
Football is a game of inches, and even the best teams in the NFL will come up short at certain times. When that happens in the postseason, it’s all the more devastating. Here’s a look back at five teams that were more than talented enough to win a Super Bowl, but they never even got a chance to prove it.
One of the most prolific offenses in NFL history and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs didn’t translate into a Super Bowl berth. Minnesota made it back to the title game two seasons later, but they were smoked on the road by the New York Giants.
A dynamic playmaker at the helm in Randall Cunningham, as well as a loaded defense didn’t translate into playoff success for Philadelphia. The Eagles of this era had the goods but came up short in three straight postseasons.
Cleveland was looking like the real deal in the mid- to late-80s, but it just wasn’t meant to be. This was the first of three losses in the AFC title tilt in four years, all coming at the hands of the Broncos.
This squad had a potent offense, led by Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, and the home-field advantage for the AFC title tilt. Three turnovers later, it was the Raiders representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.
The team that would go on to become the Tennessee Titans was a huge factor in the AFC in the late-70s. Unfortunately, so were the Steelers. The Oilers lost to the Pittsburgh dynasty in the AFC title game two years in a row.
The NFL regular season wraps up with Week 17, which typically takes place in the last week of December or the first week of January. The NFL Playoffs begin the following week with Wild Card Weekend, which is scheduled for Jan. 9-10, 2021 next time around.
NFL playoff games are contested on the home field of the higher-seeded team from the Wild Card round through the Conference Championship games. The Super Bowl is played at a neutral-site location. There has been chatter about using a ‘playoff bubble’ for the next NFL Playoffs, but there is no confirmation on that as of yet.
From 1990 through 2019, it was 12 teams in the postseason field – six teams each from both the AFC and NFC. Starting with the 2020 campaign, there will be a total of 14 teams – seven from each conference – in the NFL Playoffs.
The NFL has made the first change to its playoff format since 2002 when they shuffled things around slightly due to expansion. Beginning in 2020, the field will be expanded from 12 to 14 teams. Instead of two teams from each conference getting a first-round bye, it’ll be just one squad on both sides that gets to take Wild Card Weekend off.
The new format calls for six games on Wild Card weekend as opposed to four from the previous iteration. The remainder of the postseason remains the same: four games for the Divisional Round, and two for the Conference Championships with the winners advancing to the Super Bowl.
If we go back to the expansion of the postseason field from five to six teams in 1990, there have been 30 Super Bowl games played. Of the total of 60 potential spots in the Big Game over that span, 48 of them have been filled by teams that had first-round byes. The last team to make it to the Super Bowl without a first-round bye was the 2012 Baltimore Ravens. They defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII by a score of 34-31.