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NFL playoff bracket 2017: The schedule and how it impacts head coach interviews

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The NFL playoff bracket is officially set. We look at who gets a bye, and what it means for the coaching search.

The 2017 NFL playoff bracket is officially set, and it provides some actually pertinent information for San Francisco 49ers fans. Candidates for head coach and general manager positions that are currently involved in the playoffs have certain rules about who can interview when.

For GMs, it is quite simple. A year ago, NFL PR person Greg Aiello explained GM interview rules as follows. “Non-high level” means anybody not in a GM, president, or other equivalent role:

"A team may request permission with such a non-high level employee of a team in the playoffs. The playoff team may grant permission and the interview or interviews may be conducted at a time and place that is convenient for the employer club. There is no limitation on the number of times that an individual may be interviewed by the same club, provided that in each instance permission has been received from the employer club."

The rules are significantly more sticky with regard to interviewing candidates for head coach positions. If a coach’s team is not in the postseason (or has subsequently been eliminated), they can interview at any time. Additionally, it is mandatory for assistants to be given permission to interview for a head coach opportunity.

For teams in the playoffs, bye weeks play into the situation (pdf here). If an assistant coach wants to interview, there can only be one interview, and it must be held in the assistant coach’s home team city. If a team has earned a bye during the Wild Card weekend, the interviews of its coaches must be conducted before the end of the Wild Card games. For assistant coaches who play in the wild card weekend and win their game, the interviews must be held after the Wild Card game, and before the Divisional game. No interviews may be requested or granted after the divisional weekend for any assistant coach whose team is still playing in the postseason. However, if a first interview was held, a follow-up is allowed for one of the two Super Bowl teams during the bye week after the conference championship weekend.

The playoff bracket is set up as follows. The Cowboys, Falcons, Patriots, and Chiefs all have first round byes. Most notably, this group includes Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan, Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, Cowboys OC Scott Linehan, and Patriots DC Matt Patricia. Shanahan and McDaniels are the two most likely to get interviews this week.

NFC

1. Cowboys
2. Falcons

3. Seahawks
4. Packers
5. Giants
6. Lions

AFC

1. Patriots
2. Chiefs

3. Steelers
4. Texans
5. Raiders
6. Dolphins