NFL Playoffs Explained
The NFL Playoffs have changed in form and function several times over the course of their history, and it’s important for bettors to have proper information before wagering in NFL futures outcomes. The last time the NFL playoffs changed was in 2020. This change was due to a new collective bargaining agreement, which added an additional Wild Card team from each conference, at the cost of one of the byes that the top two seeds used to get. This means that there are now 14 spots in the playoffs, and only the number one seed in each conference gets a bye.
Early in the NFL’s history, playoffs were dependent on winning percentage, which was problematic, as it ended up putting teams with more wins behind teams with less wins as they managed to generate ties. Ties are far less common now, but the solutions to this involved creating divisional formats and other methods of making sure that the best teams got to the end. Knowing how the playoffs work can help you further your Super Bowl 58 betting even more.
How NFL Playoff Seeding Works
The top four seeds for each conference go to the winners of the NFL’s eight divisions. These four teams are ordered based on their number of wins. The top-seeded team will be the team with the best overall record, while the fourth seed will go to the division winner with the worst record. The top-seeded team also earns a bye through the first round. Ties are determined by an extensive list of tiebreakers. After the top four seeds are set, the next three seeds are referred to as “wild card” teams. Wild card spots go to the three non-division winners with the best overall record from each conference. Below is an example of how the 14-team playoff format looked from the 2022-23 season.
- Divisional Round – Wild Card winners advance to the Divisional Round. The Divisional Round was named in a time where only division winners made the playoffs, but the name stuck even after wild card teams were incorporated in. The Divisional Round is also the first round in which the top seed will play. Here’s how the divisional round will look for both conferences in the 2023-24 season:
- Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) – AFC West Champions
- Buffalo Bills (13-3) – AFC East Champions
- Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) – AFC North Champions
- Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) – AFC South Champions
- Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) – Wild Card #1
- Baltimore Ravens (10-7) – Wild Card #2
- Miami Dolphins (9-8) – Wild Card #3
- Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) – NFC East Champions
- San Francisco 49ers (13-4) – NFC West Champions
- Minnesota Vikings (13-4) – NFC North Champions
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9) – NFC South Champions
- Dallas Cowboys (12-5) – Wild Card #1
- New York Giants (9-7-1) – Wild Card #2
- Seattle Seahawks (9-8) – Wild Card #3
This system presents some obvious flaws—mainly the fact that teams in mediocre divisions can get a first-round home game with an average record. Two teams in the past have even won their divisions with losing records (the 2014 Panthers and the 2010 Seahawks). There has been talk recently of removing seed protections for division winners and seeding all seven teams based on record, but nothing has come of it yet.
Best NFL Playoff Odds
Bovada hosts some of the best odds for betting on the NFL postseason. The popular online sportsbook hosts odds for every game of the postseason, player props for major athletes, and game props for many aspects of individual matchups. Super Bowl betting doesn’t start with the Big Game as betting on the NFL playoffs is a great way to build your bankroll as SB LVIII approaches. Log onto Bovada today and find futures odds on the NFL playoffs. The best way to bet on the NFL playoffs this season is online at Bovada.
NFL Playoff Futures Betting
NFL fans can wager on teams to make the playoffs at BetOnline even before the season starts. Futures betting opens the door for longer odds and more potential profit come season’s end. Betting at BetOnline players can find odds on teams like the Denver Broncos or the Miami Dolphins, teams that missed the playoffs last season but have improved during the offseason. Betting fans can wager on their long odds to make the playoffs and see big returns should the offseason changes result in a playoff birth for these teams.
NFL Playoff Betting With Cryptocurrencies
Those who use cryptocurrencies to wager can do so at MyBookie. The popular online sportsbook accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies for wagering. MyBookie also offers 100% deposit match bonuses on for firs time crypto bettors. This doubles the initial deposit to offer more money for NFL playoffs betting. MyBookie hosts odds for the NFL playoffs all season long with futures betting, live betting, and player props available throughout. If you are going to bet on the NGL playoffs with cryptocurrencies, MyBookie is the way to play.
How NFL Playoffs Work
Getting the NFL Playoffs explained will require understanding three distinct rounds. Each round presents teams with a single-elimination game they must win to progress to the next round, with the final round being the Super Bowl. In every round prior to the Super Bowl, the bracket is set up so that the highest seeded teams host the lowest-seeded teams.
Wild Card Weekend – The first and busiest round of the NFL Playoffs, featuring six total games and 12 teams. Under the new format, the Wild Card round will now involve every team except for the top seed in each conference.
- (1) Kansas City Chiefs – BYE
- (2) Buffalo Bills vs. (7) Miami Dolphins
- (3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (6) Baltimore Ravens
- (4) Jacksonville Jaguars vs. (5) Los Angeles Chargers
- (1) Philadelphia Eagles – BYE
- (2) San Francisco 49ers vs. (7) Seattle Seahawks
- (3) Minnesota Vikings vs. (6) New York Giants
- (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. (5) Dallas Cowboys
Divisional Round – Wild Card winners advance to the Divisional Round. The Divisional Round was named in a time where only division winners made the playoffs, but the name stuck even after wild card teams were incorporated in. The Divisional Round is also the first round in which the top seed will play. Here’s how the divisional round will look for both conferences in 2023:
- Game 1 – (5-seed vs. 4-seed winner) at (1-seed)
- Game 2 – (6-seed vs. 3-seed winner) vs. (7-seed vs. 2-seed winner) – Higher seed always hosts
Conference Championships – Divisional Round winners advance to their respective conference championships. There are two conference championship games—one for the AFC and one for the NFC—to determine which team will represent each conference in the Super Bowl. The conference championship round is also the final round in which home-field advantage plays a role.
How The NFL Playoff Results Affect The NFL Draft
The first 18 (formerly 20) picks of the NFL Draft are determined in reverse order of record (i.e., the team with the worst record gets the first pick, the team with the second worst record gets the second pick and so on). But the draft order for the 14 NFL playoff teams is determined by playoff performance rather than regular season record. Teams that lose in earlier rounds receive higher draft picks. Knowing how the format of the draft works can also help you with different NFL Draft betting odds.
- Picks 19-24 go to the six teams that lost in the Wild Card round in reverse order of regular season record.
- Picks 25-28 go to the four teams that lost in the Divisional Round in reverse order of regular season record.
- Picks 29-30 go to Conference Championship game losers in reverse order of regular season record.
- Pick 31 goes to the Super Bowl runner-up.
- Pick 32 goes to the Super Bowl winning team.
NFL Playoff Betting Tips
With the NFL Playoffs explained, you may be inclined to lay some dollars on the 2023-24 version of them. Betting on the NFL Playoffs is extremely popular. Even with fewer games to bet on, sportsbooks generally see similar betting handles during the playoffs as they do during the regular season. For most people, betting is simply a way to create stakes for the playoffs, but if you want to win serious money, it is imperative that you bet smart. Here are a few tips for making the smartest possible bets:
This is easily the most important tenet for bettors. If you want to consistently win money betting on the NFL Playoffs (or anything), you have to remove personal bias from the equation. You must play the odds, even if they don’t align with your own rooting interests. Your sheer hatred for a successful team or player won’t suddenly make them bad at football.
Don’t overvalue any one individual performance. If a team has been winning and dominating consistently, you can probably disregard a game or two where they fell flat. One good stat to represent body of work is point differential. Point differential represents overall performance over 960 minutes of football. You can also look at advanced metrics like Pro Football Reference’s Estimated W-L, ESPN’s Football Power Index, or Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
Don’t make broad assumptions based on statistical trends unless the data is significant. Network TV shows love to bring up stats that form a narrative (e.g., Team X has lost their last four home playoff games dating back to 1991). As a general rule, historical team performance means nothing. If it doesn’t directly relate to the players currently on the roster, disregard it. Don’t fall for a false narrative that is nothing more than regular statistical variance.
Here is a seeding breakdown of every team that won the Super Bowl under the 12-team format:
- 1 - 15
- 2 - 8
- 3 - 1
- 4 - 4
- 5 - 1
- 6 - 2
As you can see, over the last 31 years of Super Bowl history, number one seeds have won nearly half (15/31) of the time, while top two seeds win over two-thirds (22/30) of the time. These numbers admittedly represent a small sample, but they’re consistent across eras. It isn’t as fun as betting on the underdog, but if you want to win money, bet on the favorites.