Just in time to close out the year, the NFL ends it’s regular season on New Year’s Eve. With nine games in the afternoon slate, the NFL assured that there was drama until the final minutes of the regular season. But we enter 2018 with a complete bracket, and one loaded with PCP: Playoff Classic Potential.
Who doesn’t want a ton of PCP heading into the new year?
The top seeds don’t surprise anyone, as the Eagles and Patriots have been two of the top teams all season. The problem for Philadelphia is progressing without Carson Wentz, who will miss the entire postseason with a torn ACL. Philadelphia will rely on defense, a strong run game, and home-field advantage, which could be enough to progress in the offensive-minded NFC.
And of course the Patriots are back atop the AFC. Since losing to the Panthers on October 1st, the Patriots won 10 of their final 11 games. They’re fully healthy on offense, and with home-field advantage they are once again the Vegas favorite to win the Super Bowl. The biggest challenger to another trip to the championship is, once again, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger fended off retirement rumors to lead Pittsburgh to another strong regular season, and the defense has been generating enough pressure lately to make Tom Brady nervous.
Look out world: the Buffalo Bills are going to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Bills did their job against the Dolphins, then got some last-second help from the Cincinnati Bengals to send them through. It ends a league-leading playoff drought for Buffalo, but the Bills face postseason questions after Sunday’s injury to Shady McCoy.
Because of the Ravens’ collapse, the Titans move up to the fifth seed due to tiebreakers. Thanks to that bump, the Titans go from a winnable game against the recently-defeated Jaguars to a tough visit to Arrowhead to face the Chiefspa.
On the opposite side of the bracket, the Falcons and Seahawks battled for the sixth and final playoff spot until the final minutes of the day. It’s been a disappointing season for the reigning NFC Champions, and a loaded bracket likely means the end of that title for Atlanta. The NFC favorite is Minnesota, who are on a Viking Quest to reach Super Bowl 52 in their home stadium.
Here’s how the 2018 bracket looks:
Bracket re-seeded after Wild Card round
Upcoming Playoff Schedule
WILD CARD WEEKEND: JANUARY 6/7
January 6th, 8:15 p.m. Eastern – Falcons at Rams on NBC
January 6th, 4:35 p.m. Eastern – Titans at Chiefs on ESPN/ABC
January 7th, 1:05 p.m. Eastern – Bills at Jaguars on CBS
January 7th, 4:40 p.m. Eastern – Panthers at Saints on FOX
DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS: JANUARY 13/14
January 13th, 4:35 p.m. Eastern – Wild Card winner at Philadelphia on NBC
January 13th, 8:15 p.m. Eastern – Wild Card winner at New England on CBS
January 14th, 1:05 p.m. Eastern – Wild Card winner at Pittsburgh on CBS
January 14th, 4:40 p.m. Eastern – Wild Card winner at Minnesota on FOX
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS: SUNDAY, JAN. 21
Conf. Championship 1- 3:05 p.m. Eastern
Conf. Championship 2- 6:40 p.m. Eastern
SUPER BOWL LII: FEB. 4, U.S. BANK STADIUM (MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA)
6:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC