The 2016 NFL playoff field is set, and the bracket is officially at hand. We'll be keeping track of the playoffs all month along, leading up to Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. We'd be tracking it no matter what, but with Santa Clara hosting the Super Bowl this year, I'm inclined to pay a little closer attention than normal.
Below you can find the full schedule of games all the way through the February 7 Super Bowl. It should be a fun run as there is a decent amount of parity among the contestants. The NFC side features the 15-1 Carolina Panthers and 13-3 Arizona Cardinals, but both are definitely beatable. I would say the Cardinals are the slightly tougher team on a neutral field, but Carolina getting home field will be a big help.
We'll always be rooting against the Seattle Seahawks, but it is worth noting they got kind of hosed in scheduling. They are stuck having to play a 10:05 a.m. PT game when they travel to face the Minnesota Vikings this coming weekend. They aren't stuck with a Saturday game, but it's still kinda weak. Even as a 49ers fan I can admit it.
We'll have full playoff predictions later this week, but off the top of my head, I could see Arizona vs. Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. I'm rooting for Kansas City to come out of the AFC, but Pittsburgh is going to be a tough out. If I were to pick a sleeper in the NFC, Washington is going to be interesting. They get Green Bay at home to open things, and then travel to either Carolina or Arizona based on other wins. They are better at home than on the road, but Kirk Cousins is on a roll right now. They face long odds to get to Santa Clara, but I would not be entirely shocked to see them come out of the NFC.
First round bye (NFC)
1 - Carolina Panthers (15-1) - Sunday, Jan. 17, 10:05 a.m., FOX
2 - Arizona Cardinals (13-3) - Saturday, Jan. 16, 5:15 p.m., NBC
Wild Card Weekend (NFC)
3 - Minnesota Vikings (11-5) vs. 6 - Seattle Seahawks (10-6) - Sunday, Jan. 10, 10:05 a.m., NBC
4 - Washington (9-7) vs. 5 - Green Bay Packers (10-6) - Sunday, Jan. 10, 1:40 p.m., FOX
First round bye (AFC)
1 - Denver Broncos (12-4) - Sunday, Jan. 17, 1:40 p.m., CBS
2 - New England Patriots (12-4) - Saturday, Jan. 16, 1:35 p.m., CBS
Wild Card Weekend (AFC)
3 - Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) vs. 6 - Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) - Saturday, Jan. 9, 5:15 p.m., CBS
4 - Houston Texans (9-7) vs. 5 - Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) - Saturday, Jan. 9, 1:25 p.m., ESPN/ABC
Saturday, Jan. 16
AFC Divisional Round Game 1: New England Patriots vs. highest seed, 1:35 p.m., CBS
NFC Divisional Round Game 1: Arizona Cardinals vs. highest seed, 5:15 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Jan. 17
NFC Divisional Round Game 2: Carolina Panthers vs. lowest seed, 10:05 a.m., FOX
AFC Divisional Round Game 2: Denver Broncos vs. lowest seed, 1:40 p.m., CBS
AFC Championship: AFC Divisional Round winners, 12:05 p.m., CBS
NFC Championship: NFC Divisional Round winners, 3:40 p.m., FOX
Sunday, Feb. 7
Super Bowl 50: AFC champion vs. NFC champion, 5:30 p.m., CBS