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

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pretty in the NFL playoff picture and still pushing for a possible first-round bye in the AFC, in many minds, they have been replaced by the top-seeded Ravens as the favorites to reach the big game in Miami.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 don’t even have their division locked up. The Vikings are contenders, as are the NFC East-leading Cowboys despite their .500 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.

When do the NFL playoffs start in 2020?

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

Sunday, Jan. 5: Wild-card round

Saturday, Jan. 11: Divisional round

Sunday, Jan. 12: Divisional round

Sunday, Jan. 19: AFC/NFC championship games

Sunday, Feb. 2: 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)

(Between three or more teams)

To break a tie in wild-card standings:

(Between two teams)

(Between three or more teams)

NFL playoff picture 2020

In the hunt: Steelers (8-7), Raiders (7-8)

In the hunt: Cowboys (7-8)

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