The Regular Season of the NFL Each winner of the four divisions in the AFC and NFC qualifies, making up eight berths. Then, in each conference, two of the second-placed clubs with the best records advance; these are known as the wildcard teams. The remaining six teams play a series of games to determine which three will go into the Super Bowl.
The Wild Card Round is played over two days. On day 1, there are two matches played between wildcard teams, with the following rules:
If the two wildcards meet on paper, then the team that has the better record takes home the match. If they are tied on points but one team has more wins than the other, then the team with more wins goes through. There is no tiebreaker if both teams have an equal number of wins—the champion will be determined by head-to-head competition.
On day 2, the two winners from day 1 face off in another round of matches to determine which two teams will go into next year's Super Bowl. This process is repeated until all four wildcards have been decided. Teams still in the playoffs at this point are declared inactive for the Super Bowl.
The first wildcard was introduced in 1994. Prior to this change, the final two spots in the NFL Playoffs were filled by the last two teams in each division.
The Regular Season of the NFL The wildcard teams are always ranked fifth and sixth, with the fifth seed going to the team with the higher record. The playoff rounds are held over three weekends in January, with the first two rounds eliminating four clubs each. The third round is for the last eight places, with the winners meeting in the Super Bowl.
After the conclusion of the regular season, which includes all 16 National Football League (NFL) teams, the league's executive committee will vote on whether or not to re-seed the wildcards. If they decide to reseed them, then the first-round matchups would be determined by random drawing. There is no set formula for how many seeds each team should have, but it usually ranges from three to five.
If a team were to win its division but not qualify for the playoffs, or if it finishes last in its division but qualifies as a wild card, that club would retain its original seed. However, if it wins its section but does not advance beyond the first round, or loses in the first round but fails to make the conference championship game, it would be demoted to the next lower seed.
There has never been a wild card team earn a spot in the Super Bowl; however, the idea was proposed by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue who believed it would give smaller market teams an opportunity to compete for the title.
Since 2020, each of the two conferences in the National Football League (NFL) has sent three wild-card teams and four division champions to the postseason. The "Wild Card Round" is the opening round of the playoffs. Two teams that finish with identical records will play each other for the right to advance to the next round. If these teams are tied after regulation time, the winner is determined by a series of games called "Sudden Death".
In Major League Baseball (MLB), there are two types of wild cards: one for each league. In both cases, they give the last spot in their respective leagues to teams that finished with equal records during the season. These teams then compete against each other to see which one advances to the next round.
In the NBA, there is only one type of wild card: one for the entire league. This team gets the final playoff spot regardless of record. They are given this status because the regular season standings are so close between all the teams that it doesn't make sense to have a separate first-round series just for the last spot.
In the NFL, there are two types of wild cards: one for each conference. These teams get the final spot in their respective conferences and then face off in the Wild Card Round.
While this is the standard, a few teams have won the Super Bowl despite not winning their division during the regular season. Several previous "wild card" teams have won their conferences before going on to lose in the Super Bowl.
The top and second seeds receive byes during the wildcard weekend, while the remaining eight teams participate, meaning a wildcard club may knock out a division champion in the first round. During this round, which is normally held on the first weekend of January, the third seed takes on the sixth seed, while the fourth seed takes on the fifth seed.