Who’s within the 2021 NFL playoffs? Remaining scoring, bracket, matchups for AFC & NFC

Thanks in part to the NFL’s expanded playoff field, there were seven postseason spots in week 17 that have not yet been won. Talk about big drama – the Browns are looking for their first playoff spot since 2002, Mitchell Trubisky looking to extend his tenure in Chicago, the NFC number 1 and the lonely reunion yet to be won.

Perhaps the day’s biggest disappointment was the Dolphins, who only needed a win to secure a spot in the playoffs but instead allowed the Colts to control their own fate after Miami was blown out by a Bills team without a lot to play. The Giants and Cowboys played a Barnburner in NFC East, and the final placement will be due to Washington’s result against Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football.

MORE: NFL Playoff Bracket Explained

The Ravens and Browns didn’t miss their chances in the playoffs, however. Baltimore took wins to get in, both crossed wins, and Baltimore won so much that Lamar Jackson was able to rest against the Bengals for much of the second half. Cleveland was supported by Pittsburgh resting Ben Roethlisberger and other starters, but the Browns weren’t about to complain.

Below is the full NFL playoff bracket for 2021 (starting Sunday, January 3, 4 p.m. ET), as well as a quick rundown of the wildcard matchups.

NFL playoff bracket 2021

(SN figure)

The full playoff bracket will be announced after “Sunday Night Football” between the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. Above is what the bracket will look like, with one team getting goodbye from each conference. Here’s how the matchups are currently developing after the games at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday:


1. Kansas City Chiefs (bye)
2. Buffalo Bills versus 7. Miami Dolphins / Indianapolis Colts
3. Pittsburgh Steelers versus 6. Cleveland Browns
4. Tennessee Titans vs. 5. Baltimore Ravens


1. Green Bay Packers (bye)
2. New Orleans Saints versus 7. Chicago Bears
3rd Seattle Seahawks versus 6. Los Angeles Rams
4th Washington Football Team / New York Giants versus 5th Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Who is in the 2021 NFL playoffs?

In the expanded playoff field of the NFL with 14 teams, seven competed in week 17 after having already occupied a playoff spot, while seven postseason spots were still available.

Below is the NFL playoff field for 2021, which is currently updated after the ET games conclude at 1 p.m. on Sunday January 3rd. The ranking will continue to be updated until Sunday evening. AFC seeds # 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are set in stone, while after the early afternoon games, only seeds # 5 of the NFC are banned.

AFC ranking

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

On the Hunt: Miami Dolphins (10-6) – The Dolphins return to # 7 when the Colts lose to the Jaguars at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Eliminated: Las Vegas Raiders, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC rating

Seeds team recording
1. Green Bay Packers 12-3
2. New Orleans Saints 11-4
3. Seattle Seahawks 11-4
4th Washington soccer team 6-9
5. Tampa Bay privateers 11-5
6th Los Angeles Rams 9-6
7th Chicago Bears 8-7

On the hunt: cardinals (8-7), giants (6-10)

Eliminated: Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, San Franciso 49ers, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons

AFC playoff matchups

1. Kansas City Chiefs (goodbye on the first round)

The Chiefs picked up the AFC’s number 1 with a win in Week 16. Kansas City chose to rest Patrick Mahomes and several other high profile starters against the Chargers in Week 17, giving those players a two-week break before playing the lowest-seed remaining in the division round.

2. Buffalo Bills versus 7. Miami Dolphins / Indianapolis Colts

Many expected Buffalo to rest the starters in Week 17, but Josh Allen played the first half and threw three touchdowns. Two of them went to Isaiah McKenzie, who also had an 84 yard punt return touchdown. The bills are as hot as any team in football and could be on a collision course to play Kansas City in the AFC championship game. The Dolphins get in if the Colts lose at 4:25 PM ET, but if Indianapolis wins, it’s in.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers versus 6. Cleveland Browns

The Steelers rested Ben Roethlisberger and a few other starters in week 17, resulting in a loss to Cleveland and staying in third place. That gives Pittsburgh a first-round home game with a rested quarterback, which should be enough to build a strong defense and win the Corps as favorites for promotion. It will be a rematch in week 17, but Pittsburgh is playing its big guns.

4th Tennessee Titans / Indianapolis Colts versus 5th Baltimore Ravens

If the Titans win against the Texans at 4:25 PM ET on Week 17, they’ll win the AFC South and play against the Ravens here. Losing the Titans and winning the Colts would bring Indianaoplis to that point. Miami’s loss in the early window secured the Titans a place in the playoffs no matter what.

NFC playoff matchups

1. Green Bay Packers (goodbye on the first round)

The Packers need a win in the late afternoon on Sunday to secure the number 1 in the NFC and thus the lonely farewell to the conference. The Saints and Seahawks were both able to ascend to this point, depending on the results from 4:25 p.m. ET.

2. New Orleans Saints vs. 7. Bears / Aries / Cardinals

The # 7 seed could be the bears, rams, or cardinals, depending on the results by 4:25 p.m. ET. In the late afternoon it’s the bears.

3rd Seattle Seahawks versus 6. Los Angeles Rams / Bears / Cardinals

The Rams secure number 6 with a win over the Cardinals on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET. Seattle is already included in seed # 3.

4th Washington Football Team / New York Giants versus 5th Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The buccaneers beat the hawks in week 17 to reach number 5 in the NFC. Washington will win the NFC East and be number 4 if it wins against the Eagles on Sunday night. Tampa Bay may have had a Phyrric win, however, when star receiver Mike Evans appeared to suffer a serious left knee injury against Atlanta.

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