When do the NFL playoffs start in 2020? Date, time, TV schedule & updated AFC, NFC playoff picture

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The start of the NFL playoffs this year is timed with the start of the new year. With the 2019 regular season scheduled to end Dec. 29, the first football weekend of 2020 will be the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Over the course of three weeks, the 12-team playoff field will be trimmed down to two Super Bowl 54 participants. Though the defending-champion Patriots are sitting pretty in the NFL playoff picture and still pushing for a possible first-round bye in the AFC, in many minds, they have been replaced by the top-seeded Ravens as the favorites to reach the big game in Miami.

As for the NFC, good luck predicting the team that will represent the conference in this season’s Super Bowl. The Seahawks and 49ers have been taking turns occupying the No. 1 seed, and even though the Packers are in play for a top seed and a first-round bye, they barely won their division. The Vikings are contenders, as are the NFC East-leading Eagles despite their iffy record.

Below is all you need to know about the NFL playoffs in 2020, including a complete TV schedule for each round, how the league’s postseason format works, and an updated playoff picture.

MORE: Updated NFL playoff picture | Week 17 clinching scenarios

When do the NFL playoffs start in 2020?

  • Wild-card games: Jan. 4-5
  • Divisional games: Jan. 11-12
  • Conference championships: Jan. 18
  • Super Bowl 54: Feb. 2

Eight of the 12 teams that make the NFL playoffs get just one week to prepare for their first postseason games. And the teams scheduled to play their wild-card games Saturday, Jan. 4 technically won’t even get a full week.

The first two NFL playoff games in 2020 will take place on that Saturday. The other two wild-card games will follow on Sunday, Jan. 5. Including those games, below is the full TV schedule for each round of the NFL playoffs.

NFL playoffs TV schedule

Saturday, Jan. 4: Wild-card round

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
TBDTBDTBDTBD
TBDTBDTBDTBD

Sunday, Jan. 5: Wild-card round

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
TBDTBDTBDTBD
TBDTBDTBDTBD

Saturday, Jan. 11: Divisional round

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
TBDTBDTBDTBD
TBDTBDTBDTBD

Sunday, Jan. 12: Divisional round

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
TBDTBDTBDTBD
TBDTBDTBDTBD

Sunday, Jan. 19: AFC/NFC championship games

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
AFC TBDAFC TBD3:05 p.m. ETCBS
NFC TBDNFC TBD6:40 p.m. ETFox

Sunday, Feb. 2: Super Bowl 54

Home teamAway teamStart timeTV channel
AFC championNFC champion6:30 p.m. ETFox

MORE: Everything to know about Super Bowl 54

How do the NFL playoffs work?

Though its seeding process is not perfect, the NFL utilizes arguably the best playoff format across all major American sports. A total of 12 teams — four division champions and two wild cards from each conference — make the NFL postseason each year, giving everyone in the upper third of the league’s standings a chance to win the Super Bowl.

The seeding works as follows: 1. the division champion with the best record; 2. the division champion with the second-best record; 3. the division champion with the third-best record; 4. the division champion with the fourth-best record; 5. the wild-card team with the best record; 6. the wild-card club with the second-best record.

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

NFL playoff picture 2020

SeedTeamRecordClinched
1.Baltimore Ravens13-2No. 1 seed; division; playoff berth
2.Kansas City Chiefs12-4No. 2 seed; division; playoff berth
3.New England Patriots12-4No. 3 seed; division; playoff berth
4.Houston Texans10-6No. 4 seed; division; playoff berth
5.Buffalo Bills10-6No. 5 seed; playoff berth
6.Tennessee Titans9-7No. 6 seed; playoff berth
SeedTeamRecordClinched
1.San Francisco 49ers12-3Playoff berth
2.Green Bay Packers13-3First-round bye; division; playoff berth
3.New Orleans Saints13-3Division; playoff berth
4.Philadelphia Eagles8-7
5.Seattle Seahawks​11-4Playoff berth
6.Minnesota Vikings10-6No. 6 seed; playoff berth

In the hunt: Cowboys (7-8)

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