Who has a first round bye in the NFL playoffs? Post-season format explained

The 2022 NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with the wildcard rounds, but who has a first round bye in the first week of the playoffs? Why are two teams already through to the next round?

The regular season is over, and 14 NFL teams are one step closer to claiming success in the 2022 Super Bowl in February 13th.

It all starts this weekend with the Wild Card round as 12 of the 14 teams pair up to try and advance through to round two of the Playoffs.

Not all the teams are playing this weekend, however. Two teams are on bye – meaning they have already advanced through to the second round.

Who has the first round bye in the NFL Playoffs – and why have these teams been afforded the luxury of another week off from action.

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 09:  Las Vegas Raiders fans hold up signs before a game between the Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 35-32 in overtime.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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First round NFL bye explained

The reasoning behind a first round bye in the NFL playoffs comes from the fact that there is now 14 teams in the playoffs.

The old 12-team format worked well, with six from the AFC and six from the NFC.

Seven teams from each now qualify for the post-season, but the addition of an extra two teams throws the whole schedule off.

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The reasoning behind expanding the playoffs is simple: it generates extra revenue for the NFL.

In order to keep the playoff schedule on track, the NFL introduced bye weeks in the playoffs.

The top seed in each conference is therefore granted a first round bye in the NFL playoffs, while the rest of it carries on as usual.

Which teams are on first round bye?

As stated above, the top seed in both the AFL and NFC receive a first round bye in the NFL playoffs.

In 2022, that is the Tennessee Titans (AFC) and the Green Bay Packers (NFC).

The remaining seeds face off in a #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, #4 vs #5 format in both conferences.

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  • Tennessee Titans – first round bye
  • Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Buffalo Bills vs New England Patriots
  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Las Vegas Raiders


  • Green Bay Packers – first round bye
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers
  • Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals

Successful teams then go into the Divisional round, before the Conference Championships and Super Bowl itself.

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