The NFL Playoffs Explained

NFL Playoffs Explained

NFL Playoff History

The NFL postseason is a somewhat current addition to the game. In fact, the current playoff set up wasn't established until 1967. The history of the playoffs, however, can be traced all the way back to 1933.

Establishing the Playoffs

From 1920-1923 there was no playoff system in place. The NFL determined the championship team by holding a vote of the team owners at the annual owners' meeting. This changed in 1924 when it was decided that the championship title would be given to the team with the best winning percentage over the course of the season. The NFL was happy to continue with this system until 1932 when a tie threw a spanner into the works. Suddenly the need for a playoff game was evident as the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans both had a winning percentage of .857. In order to fairly determine that year's champion, the league decided to hold a final game between the two, which the Bears won 9-0.

Though this first championship determining game was not officially called a 'championship game', it did create a bit of a buzz in the football world and, in 1933, the NFL Championship Game was created. Along with it came the need to determine winners in the case of a tie and thus the playoffs were born. This format continued through to the 1960s with impromptu playoff games being held when necessary. It wasn't until the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger that the playoffs finally began to resemble their current form.

Current Playoff System

NFL Playoff Explanation

The current playoff system is divided up into three rounds: Wild Card Round, the Divisional Round, and the Conference Championships.

The 32 teams in the NFL are divided up into two conferences (AFC and NFC). Each conference is divided up into four divisions with four teams each. Following the 16 game regular season, the four division champions from each conference advance to the playoffs. They are seeded 1 through 4 based on their win-loss-tie records of the season.

There are also two wild card spots for each conference that are filled by the two teams with next best records. These two teams are seeded 5 and 6. All up, 12 teams advance to the postseason. In the case of a tie, divisional or conference, the NFL has established a set of criteria in which the teams are compared to fairly determine a winner.

The Wild Card Round starts in the second week of January and pits the two Wild Card teams from each conference against the third and fourth seeded divisional winners. The first and second seeded teams get this week off. The two winning teams advance to the next round.

The Divisional Round is held the following week and sees the top seeded teams playing against the Wild Card Round winners with the top seeded teams getting the home field advantage. The winners advance to the Conference Championships.

The Conference Championships determine the winning team for each conference. With the field narrowed down to four teams - two from each conference -- the winners of these two games are declared the NFC Conference Champion and the AFC Conference Champion. These two winning teams will go on to face one another in the Super Bowl for the chance to claim the national title and hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Betting on the Playoffs

The NFL is the most popular when it comes to sportsbetting, particularly during the postseason as fans flock to the online sportsbooks to put down wagers on their favorite teams. It's a great way to add a little extra excitement to a sport that is already filled with feverish enthusiasm. But, if you're new to NFL sportsbetting, it can be a little difficult to decide which teams to go with. So, here are a few tips to keep in mind while you're looking over the field.

Playoff Betting Tips

1. Look at the Season: It's always good to consider how a team has performed over the course of the regular season. Have they faced this team before? Did they win? How do they rank compared to their opponents? This is all-important when considering a wager, though keep in mind that this is only something to consider. A great regular season isn't going to guarantee a win in the playoffs. The playoffs often see teams pull out all the stops for a win, so upsets can and do happen.

2. Location of the game: The home field advantage is an important factor in football. Teams almost always play better in front of the home crowd than they do on the road. This is particularly true when it comes to the playoffs when they have a sold out home crowd boosting their confidence. Also, weather can play a factor. Is the stadium indoors or outdoors? Snow and freezing temperatures may slow down a team that is accustomed to playing in more mild climates, so always look into the location of the game before putting down your wager.

3. Injuries: This is an important tip when it comes to any sportsbetting. Normally, NFL teams will rest their starters toward the end of the season to ensure they're healthy and ready to compete in the playoffs. However, it's not out of the question to have a key player get an injury that could jeopardize the team's playoff performance. If they've had to replace a star running back or defensive tackle at the last minute, the performance could suffer. So, have a quick look at the injury reports to make sure your team of choice is healthy and ready to go.

4. Bet the Underdog: If, after you've considered all of the above, you're not sure where to put your money, bet the underdog. It's cheaper than taking the favorite and if the underdog wins, you stand a chance of winning a pretty substantial amount of money. Plus, with so much on the line during the playoffs, upsets are not out of the question.

5. Be Smart: This is probably the best tip when it comes to betting on the NFL playoffs. Do your research, find a trusted online sportsbook, and, most importantly, don't ever bet with money that you can't afford to lose. Smart betting ensures that you will never find yourself miserable and in the hole when the season is over.

For more information on betting on the NFL, check out our American Football page. We're also offering up guides on betting, such as a detailed explanation of sportsbetting odds to help you ease into betting just in time for the NFL playoffs. Of course, if you're ready to jump in, we also offer a list of recommended sportsbooks in which you can take a punt on all your favorite teams this season.

The 2013-2013 NFL Playoffs are about to kick on on the 5th of January, 2013. We have got all of our NFL team game previews ready for your betting disposals and include the latest NFL playoff odds and betting information.

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