The NFL playoffs are in full swing, and the tension is building as teams fight for a spot in the coveted Super Bowl. Fans across the country are tuning in to see their favorite teams battle it out on the field, with each game bringing a new level of excitement and drama. Here’s the NFL playoff bracket for 2023.
Following an exciting Super Wild Card Weekend, the next round of the playoffs, the divisional round, is scheduled for the upcoming weekend. The Cowboys secured their spot in the divisional round by defeating the Buccaneers in a Monday night game. The Cowboys will now travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, who eliminated them from the playoffs last season.
In another matchup in the NFC, the Giants will be heading to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, who have already defeated them twice during the current season. With the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles all progressing to the divisional round, this will be the first time since 1997 that a single division has sent three teams to the second round of playoffs, since the NFC Central did it.
The AFC playoffs will begin with the Chiefs, led by Patrick Mahomes, hosting the Jaguars on Saturday. The highlight match of the AFC will occur on Sunday, when the Bills welcome the Bengals to their home field. The game was originally scheduled for Week 17, but was cancelled due to a serious incident in which Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during the first quarter.
On January 3, 2023, Damar Hamlin, a defensive back for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed on the field during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. CPR was administered for nine minutes before Hamlin’s heartbeat was restored, and he was transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment.
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Hamlin has returned to Buffalo and is still in the process of recovering from the incident.
Given this, let’s take a glance at the complete schedule and bracket of the playoffs.
Super Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, Jan. 14
- (2) 49ers 41-23 over (7) Seahawks. The 49ers were briefly challenged by the Seahawks, as Seattle took an early lead of 17-16 at halftime. However, the second half saw San Francisco pull away with a dominant performance. Rookie Brock Purdy threw for an impressive 332 yards and made history by becoming the first rookie ever to score four touchdowns in a playoff game, with three passing and one rushing.
- (4) Jaguars 31-30 over (5) Chargers. The Jaguars achieved a historic victory by making an incredible comeback in this game. The team fell behind, 27-0, during the early stages of the game primarily due to four interceptions by Trevor Lawrence, however they managed to make a remarkable comeback, largely due to Lawrence’s four touchdown passes.
Sunday, Jan. 15
- (2) Bills 34-31 over (7) Dolphins. Despite being the biggest underdog in the history of wild-card round (+14), the Dolphins gave the Bills a tough fight. The Bills ultimately avoided the upset thanks to the efforts of Josh Allen (352 passing yards, three touchdowns) and a defense that made important plays such as two turnovers, four sacks and a fourth-down stop that sealed the game with only 2:30 remaining.
- (6) Giants 31-24 over (3) Vikings. The Giants succeeded in surprising Minnesota by virtue of an extraordinary performance by Daniel Jones, who became the FIRST QB in NFL playoff history to pass for a minimum of 300 yards and two touchdowns while also gaining at least 70 yards on the ground. Jones not only threw for 301 yards but also led the game in rushing with 78 yards on 17 carries. The victory over Minnesota was the Giants’ first playoff win since they defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in February 2012.
- (3) Bengals 24-17 over (6) Ravens. The Ravens had the upper hand over Cincinnati for a majority of the game, but the Bengals managed to escape with a win due to their defense, which made one of the most significant plays in NFL postseason history. With the Ravens on the Bengals one-yard line, Tyler Huntley fumbled and Sam Hubbard ran it back 98 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Monday, Jan. 16
- (5) Cowboys 31-14 over (4) Buccaneers. The Cowboys were in control of the game throughout and a major factor in their success was Dak Prescott, who had an extraordinary performance. The Cowboys QB broke the franchise record with five total touchdowns (four passing and one rushing) and also threw for 305 yards. The only player who performed poorly was Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, who missed an NFL-record four extra points. The Cowboys will now need to decide whether to retain him for the game against San Francisco on Sunday.
Saturday, Jan. 21
- (4) Jaguars at (1) Chiefs (-8.5), 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC). After a bye-week, the Chiefs will start their playoff journey against the Jaguars, a team they’ve played against earlier this season. In Week 10, the Chiefs defeated the Jags 27-17, where they established an early lead of 20-0 before securing the victory.
- (6) Giants at (1) Eagles (-7.5), 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox). These two teams from the same division will be facing each other for the third time in this season and the Giants will be hoping to change the outcome of the previous two which were both won by Philadelphia. This will be the 25th occurrence in NFL history that a team has defeated their division rival in the regular season and then met them again in the playoffs. Out of 24 previous instances, the team that won twice in the regular season has been able to complete a three-game sweep 15 times.
Sunday, Jan. 22
- (3) Bengals at (2) Bills (-5), 3 p.m. ET (CBS). This match will take place 20 days after their initial game was cancelled due to the incident involving Damar Hamlin. Now that Hamlin is back in Buffalo, it’s quite possible he may attend this game.
- (5) Cowboys at (2) 49ers (-4), 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox). The 49ers didn’t have a game against the Cowboys in this season, but they did meet in the playoffs last January where the game was close. The 49ers’ 23-17 win in the wild-card round last year was not decided until the Cowboys made a questionable call of a QB draw in the final seconds, despite having no timeouts left. The previous game took place in Dallas, but this one will be held in San Francisco.
- NFC Championship, 3 p.m. ET (Fox)
- AFC Championship, 6:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Note: If the Bills and Chiefs meet in the AFC Championship, the game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Super Bowl LVII
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox)