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NFL playoff picture: Tom Brady’s first postseason game with Buccaneers takes place on Saturday

Related: Patriots will pick 15th overall in the 2021 NFL draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

While 18 of the NFL’s teams such as the New England Patriots are already in offseason mode and will start working towards free agency and the draft soon, the remaining 14 will participate in the playoffs and compete for a chance to appear in Super Bowl 55 next month. With the regular season now over, the playoff pictures and wild card matchups in both conferences have now also been set.

Of course, that picture does look a bit different compared to years past. Not only are the Patriots not part of it after not qualifying for the tournament for the first time since 2008, the playoffs will also feature seven teams per conference instead of the previous six. The new NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement signed into effect in March 2020 allowed the league to increase the postseason by one team each in the AFC and NFC.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how the two playoff races are looking with the regular season in the books.

AFC playoff picture

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2)
  2. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
  4. Tennessee Titans (11-5)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (11-5)
  6. Cleveland Browns (11-5)
  7. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)

Missed the cut: Miami Dolphins (10-6)

The defending world champion Chiefs took the top seed in the AFC, meaning that they will be the only team in the conference under the new format to enjoy a first-round bye. The other games, meanwhile, will be played over the upcoming weekend with the Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Tennessee all hosting the respective lower seeds. The Bills, who succeeded the Patriots as winners of the AFC East, will host their first playoff game since 1996.

All in all, the AFC’s wild card games are scheduled as follows:

  • #7 Colts at #3 Bills: Saturday, January 9, 1:05pm ET (CBS, CBS All Access)
  • #5 Ravens at #4 Titans: Sunday, January 10, 1:05pm ET (ESPN/ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, Freeform)
  • #6 Browns at #3 Steelers: Sunday, January 10, 8:15pm ET (NBC, Telemundo, Peacock)

NFC playoff picture

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
  2. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
  4. Washington Football Team (7-9)
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5)
  6. Los Angeles Rams (10-6)
  7. Chicago Bears (8-8)

Missed the cut: Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

The Chiefs’ counterpart in the NFC are the Packers, whose 13-3 record allowed them to earn the top spot in a competitive conference — with one notable exception: the Football Team snuck into the playoffs despite a 7-9 record. It was still good enough to prevail in a bad NFC East, which means that Washington gets to host Tom Brady’s first ever postseason contest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The two will clash on Saturday night.

All in all, the AFC’s wild card games are scheduled as follows:

  • #6 Rams at #3 Seahawks: Saturday, January 9, 4:40pm ET (FOX, FOX Deportes)
  • #5 Buccaneers at #4 Football Team: Saturday, January 9, 8:15pm ET (NBC, Universo)
  • #7 Bears at #2 Saints: Sunday, January 10, 4:49pm ET (CBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access)