What structure does the NFL use for the playoffs? How are teams ranked and chosen for these top spots? Once the actual structure is understood then you will find it is fairly easy to understand what causes a team to move up or be eliminated in this process. Throughout the regular season every win, loss, and tie is recorded. These records are used to rank or seed every individual team according to their record for the season. Those that have won more often are given a lower seed number, and any that have lost the most games are eliminated from consideration.
The first round of the playoffs is the Wildcard round, and this includes those who have been seeded #3-#6. Those named #1 and #2 automatically move on to the Divisional Round. The four teams from each conference that are placed in the Wildcard Round must face off against each other. The top seed winner and the bottom seed winner from each conference will also go on to the Divisional, while the other two will see the season end.
After the Divisional then the winners in each group will move on to the Conference Championships. This is where the winners from the previous round will compete, and the teams from the AFC will match up while the teams from the NFC do the same thing. This will result in each conference having a single winner, and that winner will go on to the Super Bowl as a contender.
At first the moves and matches may seem confusing and difficult to follow, but once you understand how the teams are ranked and how the process works it makes sense. The higher levels are reached by winning games, and the more that are won the more likely the team is to be seeded lower. A low seeding means a better chance at the Divisional and Conference Championship levels, and the opportunity to play in the next Super Bowl.
The NFL uses the playoff structure so that every team has a fair shot, and the players have an opportunity to work hard and reach the top. Only the best from each conference can attend the final event of the year, and this is one that millions of global viewers tune in for. The tiers used in the playoff structure make it much easier to see how each one moves up or gets eliminated. You can tell at a glance who is still in and who no longer has a shot, and also which team is seeded at what number.