NFL knockouts, explained: Bye, seeding will go live in 2022 with 17-game format

The NFL has made an important decision on post-season format ahead of the 2020 NFL regular season. Instead of 12 teams entering the knockout stages, the NFL will include 14 teams during the 2021 NFL postseason.

The move was initially met with skepticism. After all, the NFL is arguably the best playoff format of any of the four major sports, so why change something that’s working?

But soon, NFL fans realized that the extended post-season period would mean two more NFL games. So they stopped complaining and the first 14 teams after the season came and went without major hitch.

The post-season 14-team qualifier has some key differences from the old 12-team qualifier. Here’s an update on how the 14-team version of the NFL’s knockouts works, and why the NFL finally added more post-season games before last season began.

THAN: The complete NFL playoff image for Week 18

How many teams made it to the NFL knockouts?

A total of 14 teams will participate in the NFL knockouts in 2022. This will be the second season of the NFL’s 14-team knockouts. Previously, 12 teams — six from each convention — made it to the knockouts but the NFL changed that ahead of the 2020 NFL season.

Now, seven teams from the AFC and seven from the NFC will enter the post-season phase. That only affects the knockout round by adding a seventh seed in each tournament and removing the bye week for the 2nd seed.

Under the NFL’s new format, 43.75 percent of the league’s teams will participate in post-season play. The Division champions will still be seeded 1-4 on record with the last three slots being filled by Wild Card teams.

NFL 2022 Qualifiers

Below, you can see how the 2022 NFL playoffs will play out. The 1st seed in each game will start the tournament with a bye while the 2nd seed will play 7, the 3rd will play the 6, and the 4 will each play the 5.

Here are the NFL’s latest knockouts for 2022, updated through Week 17:


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


1. Green Bay Packers (goodbye)
2. Los Angeles Rams vs. 7. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. 6. San Francisco 49ers
4. Dallas Cowboys vs. 5. Arizona Cardinals

How many teams got goodbye in the first round?

Only a total of two teams – one in each conference – had a bye week under the NFL’s new playoff format. That’s because of the expansion of the Wild Card round to add a 2nd and 7th seed matchup in both AFC and NFC.

Eliminating the second match was necessary, as seeding #2 would ensure that half of the 12 teams competing in the Wild Card weekend would be eliminated. That means eight teams will play in the split, and the NFL will continue to halve the total number of teams from there until one team remains behind the Super Bowl.

Why is the NFL expanding the playoff playing field?

All for money. The additional playoff game would generate revenue that the NFL would otherwise not have, and it allows the league to have an extra primetime broadcast, as they’ll be playing a post-season game “Monday Night Football.” ” for the first time in 2022.

It also kept more teams in the playoff hunt for longer throughout the 18-week season. That makes each match a little more meaningful and gives the fan bases of the middleweight teams extra hope that they can qualify for next season.

Does the 2nd seed have any benefit in saying goodbye?

The #2 seed is a lot less attractive without the goodbye. The 2nd seeded team is guaranteed two home games – provided they can send the 7th seed to the Wild Card round. They will then go to the home of the 1st seed to compete for the AFC or NFC championship or host the championship match if the 1st seed proves upset.

That said, it’s a lot different from the goodbye week the team has experienced, as the 2nd seed will have to play an extra match where the previous 2nd seed didn’t have to play. So teams will be less likely to fight hard if they get the chance to rest their players at the end of the season, especially if they’ve finished the championship and don’t have a place in the seed pool. like number 1.

Will the NFL’s 17th game affect the knockouts?

The addition of a regular game of the 17th season won’t have much of an impact on the knockouts. The biggest change is that the NFL’s post-season schedule will be pushed back by a week because of additional games. As such, the Super Bowl will now take place on the second Sunday of February instead of the first.

Also, the playoff race will be a bit longer and more crowded than usual. Because they have to play one more game, the hot teams at the end of the year will have a better chance of making a post-season game, as they will have more time to earn their place in the rankings.

NFL 2022 playoff schedule

wild card ring

Saturday, January 15

Fit Start time Channel Direct
AFC/NFC wildcard round 4:35 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC wildcard round 8:15 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV

Sunday, January 16

Fit Start time Channel Direct
AFC/NFC wildcard round 1:05 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC wildcard round 4:40 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV
AFC/NFC wildcard round 8:15 p.m. ET TBD fuboTV

Monday, January 17

Fit Start time Channel Direct
AFC/NFC wildcard round 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN ESPN App, fuboTV

split ring

Saturday, January 22

Fit Start time Channel Direct
AFC Split Round TBA TBA fuboTV
NFC split ring TBA TBA fuboTV

Sunday, January 23

Fit Start time Channel Direct
AFC Split Round TBA TBA fuboTV
NFC split ring TBA TBA fuboTV

Conference Championship

Sunday, January 30

Fit Start time Channel Direct
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, February 13

Fit Start time Channel Direct
Super Bowl 56 6:30 p.m. ET NBC NBC Sports App, fuboTV

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