NFL playoff schedule and bracket 2015: Wild card, divisional matchups announced

We take a look at the 2015 NFL playoff schedule and full bracket following the final week of the regular season.

The NFL has announced the full schedule for the wild card and divisional round of the 2015 NFL Playoffs, following a packed Week 17 to conclude the regular season.

One team didn’t have anything to play for in Week 17: the New England Patriots. They managed to lock up the AFC East in Week 15 and both a first-round bye and home-field advantage in Week 16. They’ll be on the sidelines for wild card weekend alongside the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks managed to secure the NFC West, while the Packers won the NFC North. So the Dallas Cowboys slotted into the third seed, while the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions took seeds No. 5 and 6.

As we already knew, but still feel like discussing because it’s horrible: the NFC South will host a playoff game this postseason. The New Orleans Saints have led the division for much of the season, but they were eliminated in Week 16, by the Atlanta Falcons, setting up Sunday’s game for the title against the Carolina Panthers. Carolina managed to win that game, at 7-8-1, and will host a playoff game.

In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens won out for the sixth seed, beating the Cleveland Browns while benefiting from a San Diego Chargers loss. Factor in the aforementioned Sunday Night Football game between the Bengals and Steelers, and we have a complete playoff picture.

Here’s a look at the schedule and bracket:

Wild Card Playoffs

AFC Game 1

Bengals vs. Ravens or Bengals @ Colts
Date: Jan. 3
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.
TV: CBS

AFC Game 2

Steelers vs. Ravens or Steelers @ Colts
Date: Jan. 4
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.
TV: ESPN

NFC Game 1

(4) Carolina Panthers vs. (5) Arizona Cardinals
Date: Jan. 3
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m.
TV: ESPN

If the Cowboys are one of the surprises of the season, the Cardinals are probably the biggest surprise. Nobody saw this team competing to the extent that they did, and they came a game away from winning the NFC West and securing the top seed in the conference. They came up just short, but they’ll be heavily favored to take down the Panthers, who get to host a playoff game due to the fact that the NFC South is bad.

NFC Game 2

(3) Dallas Cowboys vs. (6) Detroit Lions
Date: Jan. 4
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m.
TV: FOX

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the surprises of the season. They’ve been bad for a few seasons now and not a whole lot changed coming into this year, but here they are in the postseason, probably favored over the Detroit Lions. Detroit has been better than expected as well, with an 11-5 record. They did lose the NFC North in Week 17, though.

Divisional Playoffs

NFC

(1) Seattle Seahawks vs. Lowest Seed
Date: Jan. 10
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.
TV: FOX

As usual, home-field advantage is as big a factor for the Seahawks as any other team in the league, if not more. It’s widely regarded as the toughest place to play, and the Seahawks have been playing their best football of the year in recent weeks, after a rough start to the season. They’re a force to be reckoned with.

(2) Green Bay Packers vs. Highest Seed
Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.
TV: FOX

The Packers trailed the Lions for a good portion of the last few weeks, but they made a statement with a big win in Week 17, taking the division and home-field advantage in this round. It’s going to be a tough out for whichever team makes it this far. As the No. 2 seed, the Packers will take the highest remaining seed.

AFC

(1) New England Patriots vs. Lowest Seed
Date: Jan. 10
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m.
TV: NBC

Doesn’t it just seem too easy for the Patriots sometimes? Once again, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady led the Patriots to an AFC East win and a top seed with nothing to play for in the final week of the season. They’ll play host to the lowest remaining seed in the AFC, extra rested.

(2) Denver Broncos vs. Highest Seed
Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.
TV: CBS

Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense wasn’t as insanely productive as they were a season ago, but it’s difficult to smash every significant record in the book two year in a row. They’ll host the highest remaining seed in the AFC in the divisional round.

Conference Championships

AFC: Divisional Winner 1 vs. Divisional Winner 2
Date: Jan. 18
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m.
TV: CBS

Neither the Patriots nor the Broncos play in stadiums generally regarded as tough to play in, so the AFC Championship storyline will focus a lot less on that than the NFC.

NFC: Divisional Winner 1 vs. Divisional Winner 2
Date: Jan. 18
Kickoff: 3 p.m.
TV: FOX

Home-field advantage seems much more significant in the NFC, where the Seahawks and Packers have notoriously tough places to play. If the Seahawks make it through to this game, they’ll host their game and would likely be heavy favorites.

Super Bowl XLIX

AFC Championship Winner vs. NFC Championship Winner
Date: Feb. 1
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m.
TV: NBC

Super Bowl XLIX will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ari. It will be the second Super Bowl held in that stadium, and NBC will handle the broadcast duties for this one.

December 29, 2014 by : Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

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