Dallas Cowboys

Here’s a look at the NFL playoffs 101 for non-football newcomers

The Dallas Cowboys are drawing the usual rowdy fans and some non-football fans.
The Dallas Cowboys are drawing the usual rowdy fans and some non-football fans. rrodriguez@star-telegram.com

The success of the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys is drawing the interest of non-football fans.

Very non-football fans.

Some of those what-is-a-football type of fans.

The regular season ends Sunday. The NFL playoff schedule will be set after the final game, Green Bay at Detroit.

But for the non-football fans, here’s how the playoff system works:

The wild-card round (Jan. 7-8)

There are two wild-card teams (division non-champions with best two records) from each conference (AFC and NFC) and the division champions with the third and fourth-best record in each conference will enter the first round of the playoffs. The division champion with the third-best record will play host to the wild-card team with the second-best record. The division champion with the fourth-best record will play host to the wild-card team with the best record. There are no restrictions on intra-division games.

The divisional round (Jan. 14-15)

In each conference, the two division champions with the highest won-lost-tied percentage during the regular season will play host to the wild-card winners. The division champion with the best record in each conference is assured of playing the lowest seeded wild-card survivor. There are no restrictions on intra-division games. The top-seeded Cowboys begin play in this round at AT&T Stadium.

Championship games (Jan. 22)

The home teams will be the surviving playoff winners with the highest seeds. A wild-card team cannot play host unless two wild-card teams are in the game, in which the wild-card team that was seeded highest in the first round of the playoffs will be the home team.

The Super Bowl (Feb. 5)

The winner of the AFC championship plays the winner of the NFC Championship in the Super Bowl. This season’s game, Super Bowl LI, will be held Feb. 5 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

As for who will be playing, when and where during the playoffs, well, that’s another story.

Week 17 NFL Playoff Scenarios

NFC

CLINCHED — Dallas NFC East and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs; Atlanta NFC South;S eattle NFC West; NY Giants playoff berth.

WASHINGTON (8-6-1) VS. NEW YORK GIANTS (10-5) — Washington clinches a playoff berth with: 1. Washington win and Green Bay-Detroit game does not end in a tie OR 2. Washington tie and Green Bay loss and Tampa Bay loss or tie

ATLANTA (10-5) VS. NEW ORLEANS (7-8) — Atlanta clinches a first-round bye with: 1. Atlanta win OR 2. Atlanta tie and Seattle loss or tie OR 3. Seattle loss and Detroit loss or tie OR 4. Seattle tie and Detroit loss

TAMPA BAY (8-7) VS. CAROLINA (6-9) — Tampa Bay clinches a playoff berth with: 1. Tampa Bay win and Washington tie and Green Bay loss and Tampa Bay clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Green Bay. Note: Tampa Bay clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Green Bay if all of the following teams win: Tennessee, Indianapolis, Dallas and San Francisco.

DETROIT (9-6) vs. GREEN BAY (9-6) — Green Bay clinches NFC North division title with: 1. Green Bay win or tie. Green Bay clinches a playoff berth with: 1. Washington loss OR 2. Washington tie and Tampa Bay win and Green Bay clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over TB. Note: Green Bay clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker over Tampa Bay if one of the following teams win or tie: Seattle, Houston, Jacksonville, Philadelphia. Green Bay has already clinched strength of schedule tiebreaker over Tampa Bay in this scenario.

DETROIT (9-6) vs. GREEN BAY (9-6) — Detroit clinches NFC North division title with: 1. Detroit win. Detroit clinches a first-round bye with: 1. Detroit win and Seattle loss or tie and Atlanta loss. Detroit clinches a playoff berth with: 1. Detroit tie OR 2. Washington loss or tie

SEATTLE (9-5-1) AT SAN FRANCISCO (2-13) — Seattle clinches a first-round bye with: 1. Seattle win and Atlanta loss or tie OR 2. Seattle tie and Atlanta loss and Green Bay/Detroit tie

AFC

CLINCHED — New England AFC East and first-round bye; Pittsburgh AFC North; Houston AFC South; Oakland, Kansas City and Miami playoff berths.

NEW ENGLAND (13-2) AT MIAMI (10-5) — New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with: 1. New England win or tie OR 2. Oakland loss or tie

OAKLAND (12-3) AT DENVER (8-7) — Oakland clinches AFC West division title and a first-round bye with: 1. Oakland win or tie OR 2. Kansas City loss or tie. Oakland clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with: 1. Oakland win and New England loss

KANSAS CITY (11-4) AT SAN DIEGO (5-10) — Kansas City clinches AFC West division title and a first-round bye with: 1. Kansas City win and Oakland loss

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