NFL Playoffs Start Later Than Usual

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Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium on October 19, 2020, in Arlington, Texas.

The NFL’s postseason will look a little different for the second straight year. The 2022 playoffs are scheduled to start at a later date than usual because of the expanded regular season, and Wild-Card Weekend will now include six games played over the course of three days.

Seven teams from each conference make the playoffs. The No. 1 seed in the NFC and AFC have a first-round bye and automatically reach the divisional round. That leaves 12 total teams playing in the wild-card round.

The 2022 NFL playoffs start on Saturday, Jan. 15 with one game scheduled for 4:35 p.m. EST and another at 8:15 p.m. EST. There will be three games on the Sunday, Jan. 16 schedule. Those contests start at 1:05 p.m. EST, 4:40 p.m. EST and 8:15 p.m. EST.

A “Monday Night Football” matchup will conclude Wild-Card Weekend for the first time. A marquee first-round postseason game is set to start at 8:15 p.m. EST Monday, Jan. 17 on ESPN and ABC.

The time slot for each playoff matchup will be determined when the final playoff picture is set.

The league expanded its 16-game regular-season schedule to 17 games for the 2021 season, taking place over the course of 18 weeks. A third wild-card team in each conference was introduced in the 2020 season, expanding the total playoff field from 12 to 14 teams. Previously, the top two teams in each conference were awarded a bye to the second round of the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won last season’s Super Bowl, despite playing in the wild-card round and never hosting a postseason game during their championship run.


Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys

Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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