It is Test Your Skill time for punters who enjoy some manner of plunge on the code of NFL football.
The low-hanging fruit of the regular season is in the past; picking the winners of the playoffs will be a decidedly more difficult task.
As a brief primer for the playoffs, which should be called finals if the Yanks had their nomenclature ordered properly, we offer this synopsis.
There are 32 clubs in the NFL. There are two conferences, the AFC and the NFC, both with 16 clubs. Each conference is subdivided into four divisions, each with four clubs.
Division winners, eight in all, qualify for the playoffs. Two wild-card teams from each conference bring the total number of teams in the post-season to 12.
As might be expected, the conference and division system in use by the NFL creates some contradictions.
The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East Division with a record of 9 – 7 and will have home ground for the first round, despite there being clubs in other divisions with better won – loss records.
There have been years in the past when this ugly factor has seen teams with superior records to division winners have been eliminated from playoff contention.
This year, only the Seattle Seahawks, with an 11 – 5 record, seem to have suffered from a system that finds them playing as tourists in Philadelphia, against a club over which they hold a two-win advantage.
There have been years where a .500 club has qualified, but such is not the case this year, as all the playoff clubs had winning records.
Unlike the AFL, where the minor premiers play the No. 4 finishers and any of the top four can lose a finals game yet play on, the No 1 seeds in each conference have first-week byes.
Another difference is that the NFL rotates its Super Bowl (Grand Final) among different stadiums, usually in some weather-favourable city.
Wild Card Weekend, the first of the playoffs, is a smorgasbord for NFL fans, as there are two games on the first Saturday of finals and two on Sunday. Same for the second week.
For the first week, the spreads are tight.
Houston Texans are favoured favoured by 2.5 points over Buffalo Bills. New England Patriots are 4.5 favourites agasint Tennessee Titans. New Orleans Saints are favoured by 8 over Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks are favoured by 2 points over Philadelphia Eagles.