NFL Playoffs 2024

NFL Playoffs 2024: Schedule, Fixtures, TV Broadcast, Injury Report and More

The 2023 NFL season is the 104th season of the league, and it kicked off on September 7, 2023. The season lasted for 18 weeks, during which a total of 272 games were played. The ultimate goal for every team is to win the Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas and lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Week 1 marked the beginning of official NFL games after a break of almost seven months. It was an exciting start for some and a disappointing one for others, followed by 14 games played on a packed Sunday. The season started with the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs from the AFC losing to the Detroit Lions from the NFC division in the NFL kickoff game on Thursday. 18 Weeks have passed, and the qualified teams are awaiting their postseason games to begin on Saturday, January 13, 2024. 14 teams have booked their playoff spots. Before diving into these 14 teams, and how they reached here, let’s delve into what playoffs are and how it works!

NFL Playoffs 2024: Road to Lombardi

To win the Lombardi, the teams must need to successfully navigate through the playoffs in front of them.

When the NFL started in 1920, there were no playoffs. The season simply ended, and that was it. From 1933 to 1966, they had something called the “NFL Championship Game,” which was like the grand finale of the regular season. The teams that got there were decided based on how well they did in the regular season.

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Then in 1967, they changed things up. Instead of just two teams in the championship game, now four teams got a shot. These four teams had to fight it out, and the winners would move on to the finals. Over time, more teams wanted a chance at the championship, so by 2019, there were 12 teams in the playoffs. But in 2020, they made it even bigger with fourteen teams in the postseason. Now you might wonder, how do they decide which teams get in, and how does the whole playoff thing work?

A guide to how the playoffs work:

The NFL is split into two divisions which are AFC and NFC, including sixteen teams in each division. Furthermore, these two divisions are again divided into four subdivisions: East, West, North, and South. Inside each of the subdivisions, there are four teams, making a total of 32 teams in the NFL. As for the playoffs, the best teams from each subdivision earn a chance based on the regular season performance. These teams are then ranked 1-4 within their conference. Adding to the mix, three more teams, known as “Wild Cards,” from each conference also qualify for the playoffs. They are chosen based on their best records after the top four from each conference. The format of the playoff games is as follows:

No. 1 seed: Best record in the NFC or AFC

No. 2 seed: Second-best record for a division winner

No. 3 seed: Third-best record for a division winner

No. 4 seed: Fourth-best record for a division winner

No. 5 seed: Best record for Wild-Card teams

No. 6 seed: Second-best record for Wild-Card teams

No. 7 seed: Third-best record for Wild-Card teams

Teams are assigned rankings from 1 to 7, with the ones boasting the best records securing the top seeds in each conference. When the playoffs begin, the top-seeded team gets a bye in the initial round, called the Divisional Round. And for the rest, in this round, the game follows in this way:

Number seven seed vs. Number two seed
Number six seed vs. Number three seed
Number five seed vs. Number four seed

Winners of these matchups advance to the subsequent round. After that, the winners square off in the Conference Championships. The climax of it all is the Super Bowl, where the champions from the NFC and AFC compete.

Which teams are in the NFL Playoffs 2024?

In total of 14 teams clinching their playoff spots, 7 each are from AFC and NFC. They are:

AFCNFC

  1. Baltimore Ravens

  1. San Francisco 49ers
      2. Buffalo Bills      2.   Dallas Cowboys
      3. Kansas City Chiefs      3.   Detroit Lions
      4. Houston Texans       4.   Tampa Bay Buccaneers
      5. Cleveland Browns      5.   Philadelphia Eagles
       6. Miami Dolphins       6.   Los Angeles Rams
       7. Pittsburgh Steelers

  1.   Green Bay Packers

The numbers beside the team’s names represent the seeds they have clinched. Before Week 18, in the AFC, a total of 3 spots were still left, and in the NFC, a total of 2 spots were available in the playoffs. However, now as the regular season has wrapped up, the new entries after Week 18 were of Bills, Texans, and Steelers in AFC; and Buccaneers and Packers in NFC.

NFL Playoffs 2024: Fixtures

In total 12 teams will appear in the wildcard round, as the two top seeds teams, which are the Ravens and 49ers, have been given a bye during this week. They will play the lowest AFC/NFC team remaining in the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans: Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs: Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills: Sunday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. ET
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys: Sunday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions: Sunday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Monday, Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. ET

Playoff Ascent: Tracing the path of the Elite 9 teams!

AFC

Baltimore Ravens (13-3) - They started off their regular season with a massive victory over Houston Texans (25-9). By that time, it was known that the Ravens were coming off this season with a commanding state to set the tone for a remarkable journey ahead. Then the Ravens went on to win their second game against the Bengals, the team against whom they lost in their Wildcard round last season. However, then in between they fumbled a bit, losing to the Colts, Steelers, and Browns.

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Many blame their Week 4 and 5 for their subpar performance because during that time their 11 players suffered injuries, including 2 out of the 3 star RBs. Later in the season, their other two significant players Mark Andrews and Keaton Mitchell potentially suffered season-ending injuries. Despite all of this, the Ravens never stopped. With a blowout 56-19 win over the Phins on New Year’s Eve, they clinched their number 1 seed in the AFC.

Buffalo Bills (11-6) - They had a tough start with a 6-6 record, due to the injuries that directly hit their defense hard. Players like Von Miller, All-Pro linebacker Matt Milano, DaQuan Jones, Kaiir Elam, Dawson Knox, Damien Harris, and standout cornerback Tre'Davious White, all landed into Bills’ IR. But it was for a shorter period of time.

After their Bye week, the team won all their games consecutively, making a strong comeback to win the AFC East and secure the number 2 seed in the division with an 11-6 record. The Bills also clinched the AFC East title for the fourth consecutive season, marking a remarkable achievement in franchise history.

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) - The team started with a loss to the Detroit Lions 20-21. However, QB Patrick Mahomes gave his best, many felt the absence of Travis Kelce due to injury, and the lack of good receivers in the team, the Red Army lost. However, they soon picked up like the reigning champion, winning back-to-back matchups, despite their struggling offense.

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But soon just before the Bye Week, and even after it, the Chiefs didn't rebound and continued to struggle with their offense. Although after winning their last matchup against the Bengals, they clinched the playoff spot, the team appears to be weaker than other AFC squads in the playoffs when we compare their NFL standing records.

Houston Texans (10-7) - They have definitely exceeded expectations of many. The team started off the season with two back-to-back losses. However, later they picked up and kept climbing until they reached the playoff spot. They clinched their first playoff spot since 2019, and that too with some mathematics.

They needed to defeat the Indianapolis Colts in their last game; so they defeated the Colts 23-19 in Week 18. Furthermore, they needed the Titans to get victory over the Jaguars, who also had a similar score like the Texans. So, the Jaguars lost to the Titans in Week 18, and the Texans got the opportunity, with their win too, to compete in the playoffs.

Cleveland Browns (11-5) - The Browns had a tumultuous season in between. With losing one week to winning another, the team somehow managed to keep their playoff hopes alive. And in the last month, they showed progression and the team won back-to-back games.

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They defeated the Jets in Week 17, clinching the playoff berth after 21 years in the league. Their losing and winning records show a spectacular comeback that the fans have ever wanted from them.

Miami Dolphins (11-5) - They started off strong winning back-to-back matchups, with a few fumbles in between like losing to the Bills, Eagles, Chiefs, Titans, and Ravens. They kept their first place in the AFC East.

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Additionally, they secured their spot in the NFL Playoffs for the second consecutive season, after defeating the Cowboys 22-20. Interestingly, this back-to-back playing in the postseasons for the team came for the first time since 1997-2001.

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) - They had a season with good and bad moments. They began by losing to the Niners but in their next, they won against the Browns, and since then their alternative victories started. The season had highs, like beating the Raiders and Ravens, and lows including losses to the Texans and Jaguars.

Despite their unpredictable season, the Steelers now hold the 7th seed in the AFC division. In the 2023 season, under head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Omar Khan, they achieved their 700th win by defeating the Ravens. This milestone puts them in a special group of teams (Bears, Packers & Giants) who have won over 700 games in their franchise history.

NFC

San Francisco 49ers (12-4) - This team too came off strong this season. However, they fumbled in between but soon picked up defeating their opponents back-to-back. Star players of the team like QB Brock Purdy and RB Christian McCaffrey stood out as the dominant record holders in the league.

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Purdy is named as the top Pro Bowl nominee of the season, and McCaffrey is leading the NFL in rushing yards with 1,459 yards this time. They were the first one in the season to clinch the 2023 NFL playoff berth following a win over the Seahawks, and the Packers losing to the Giants.

Dallas Cowboys (11-5) - They made an extraordinary entry to the regular season whitewashing the Giants 40-0. This was enough to tell fans and NFL analysts that the team has the potential to clinch a playoff berth this season again. Although they fumbled in between against teams like the Cardinals, 49ers, Bills, and Dolphins, they kept going strong in the season.

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Their playoff spot clinching was interesting, as they secured a spot before their game against the Bills. This happened because the Falcons lost to the Panthers with a score of 9-7, giving the Cowboys room to enter the NFL Playoffs 2024 berth. This marked the team’s third consecutive appearance in the playoffs, which is the longest streak for the franchise since they made it to the playoffs for six consecutive seasons from 1991 to 1996.

Detroit Lions (11-5) - The Lions were considered as underdogs before the season started. But when they started, everybody knew that the team wasn't going to play as such. The first game of the season kicked off with their matchup against the reigning Super Bowl Champion, the Chiefs.

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And in the first game itself, they came as a dominant force giving a tough competition to Patrick Mahomes-led team. They kept on winning the games ahead, meeting a few upsets in between the season, and now reaching the playoffs. Around two weeks ago, they sealed their playoff berth with an uncomfortable last-minute win against the Vikings.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) - They started off with wins, but soon in the middle of the season the franchise struggled in their passing defenses, thereby losing multiple games consecutively. However, later at the end of the season, QB Baker Mayfield and his squad with their good rushing defense climbed up the ladder, clinching a playoff berth for themselves.

Jan 7, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) is forced out of the pocket during the second half against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

With a 9-0 victory over the Panthers, they clinched a playoff berth, however, it’s important to note that the team has the lowest score (tying with Packers) with just 9 wins than the other teams in the playoffs (both AFC & NFC). The Eagles had a small opportunity to become the winners of the NFC East on Sunday. For this to happen, they needed the Cowboys to lose against the Commanders and also win their own game against the Giants. Unfortunately, both of these things didn’t happen. This helped the Bucs to clinch the number 4 seed in the playoffs over the Eagles.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) - The runner-up team of last season is eyeing for the Super Bowl again. They entered the season with consecutive wins, hinting to their fans that this time they were going to be the formidable opponents for the rest of the 31 teams. However, in December month, they started losing their games.

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The December struggle is said to be due to the changes in the defensive coaching, such as the entry of Matt Patricia, after removing Sean Desai, and a decline in star player performances, along with Jalen Hurts’ injury. Despite this, the team, having secured consecutive wins earlier, clinched a playoff berth with the help of the 49ers and Lions’ victories, along with the losses of the Packers and Falcons.

Los Angeles Rams (9-7) - The Rams' start wasn’t that great, as they suffered more losses than they won earlier. However, since November’s second last week, which was after their Bye Week, they picked up their weapons to make a strong comeback.

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The team won six games out of seven, and as expected, clinched a playoff spot for themselves. They did so by beating the Giants 26-25 win in the last moment of the Week 17 game.

Green Bay Packers (9-8) - The Packers ended the regular season with a record of 9 wins and 8 losses. This earned them the seventh seed in the NFC playoffs.

via Imago

The team performed better in the second half of the season, winning six out of the last eight games and finishing with a three-game winning streak, securing a spot in the playoffs. Now, they are playing an away game in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Now, the question arises, which teams have the potential to successfully navigate through the NFL Playoffs 2024?

The teams that appear to be strong this season are.....

Baltimore Ravens - The Ravens have a strong defense, leading the league in both sacks (57) and takeaways (29). They have a well-rounded pass-rushing team with four players [Justin Madubuike (13), Jadeveon Clowney (8.5), Kyle Van Noy (8), and Odafe Oweh (5)] having at least five sacks. The inside linebacker combination of Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen is elite, and the secondary is versatile with playmakers. QB Lamar Jackson has improved in the pocket, showing great leadership, patience, and mobility.

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The team is consistent, mature, and focused, not overlooking any opponent. Despite injuries to their star players like Mark Andrews, and others, replacements in the form of Isaiah Likely, Beckham, Flowers, and Nelson Agholor, have all stepped up. Furthermore, their running game remains strong. With a deep group of playmakers in the passing attack, the Ravens can make big plays and have a potent deep passing game.

San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are one of the most powerful teams of this season. They are considered the second-best team in the 2023 NFL playoffs. And it is all because of their string roster. Players like Brock Purdy, McCaffrey, Samuel, George Kittle, Mostret, Williams, and Nick Bosa, among others, are showing their strength unitedly, and that’s what is helping the Niners to grow exponentially.

Buffalo Bills - The Bills are also considered one of the strong teams in the season. Throughout the regular season they achieved significant milestones, such as QB Josh Allen’s impressive stats (4306 yards, the second highest after Dak Prescott).

via Getty

Furthermore, wide receiver Stefon Diggs reaching career milestones (surpassing 1,000 receiving yards and becoming the first player in team’s history with four consecutive 1,000 yards milestone); and also the team’s strong defensive performances are major strengths of the team. Furthermore, their 11+ win streak for the fourth consecutive season ties the team’s longest streak, setting them up for a promising postseason. 

Cleveland Browns - Joe Flacco has elevated the Browns’ offense, and the team still boasts one of the league’s top defenses. Their defense has been impressive this season, especially in Week 6 when they faced the strong 49ers offense.

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Despite being undervalued due to some challenges on the road, the Browns' defense, including Myles Garrett and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, showcased their dominance by limiting MVP Brock Purdy to a low completion percentage of 44.4%. And as a result of their formidable defense, the team has now reached the playoffs and ranks third in the strong teams of the season.

Dallas Cowboys - Phenomenal performances from players like Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb make the team’s offense strong. Furthermore, they have the ability to limit explosive offenses, as Micah Parsons is playing like a top defensive player in the league. DaRon Bland is performing exceptionally well as a top-cover cornerback in the defensive backfield. Even without Trevon Diggs, who is out of the season due to a torn ACL, the unit is holding up strongly.

Miami Dolphins - Although the Phins are not in the same league where Baltimore stands now, the team still has its formidable offense, delivering high scores and record-breaking performances. However, in the past few games, the team’s offense has been affected, especially due to Tyreek Hill’s injury.

Nevertheless, the QB is accurate, the team uses their speed, and coach Mike McDaniels is trying to pull all the strings strong on the offensive side for the team. Therefore, only the future might tell how excellently they come off into the playoffs.

How can you watch the NFL playoffs?

The 2024 NFL playoffs will begin with the wildcard round on Saturday, January 13, 2024. The first games are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. ET. The playoffs will be aired on:

FOX
CBS
ESPN and ABC
NBC and Peacock

And for those who want to watch on live-streaming, they can enjoy the showdowns on YouTube TV, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV.

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