The National Football League has announced it's official schedule for the playoffs leading to the Super Bowl finale for the 2014-2015 season. The NFL playoff schedule is in brackets between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC) in games running through to the February 1st Super Bowl.
This coming week, Wild Card Playoffs between the NFC's Arizona at Carolina will run January 3rd (aired on ESPN) as will the AFC's Baltimore at Pittsburgh (aired on NBC). On January 4th, the AFC's Cincinnati at Indianapolis (CBS) and the NFC's Detroit at Dallas (FOX) will complete the Wild Card games.
From there, the divisional NFC playoff schedule begins January 10 with AFC winner from the previous week playing New England (NBC) and the NFC winner of the previous week playing Seattle (FOX). Sunday's games on January 11 will be the NFC winner from January 4 against Green Bay (FOX) and the AFC winner from Indianapolis against Denver (CBS).
Current NFL standings for the NFL playoff schedule are as follows:
AFC top-ranked New England (12-4), Denver (12-4), Pittsburgh (11-5), Indianapolis (11-5), Cincinnati (10-5-1), and Baltimore (10-6).
NFC top-ranked Seattle (12-4), Green Bay (12-4), Dallas (12-4), Carolina (7-8-1), Arizona (11-5), and Detroit (11-5).
The NFC and AFC Championship Games will be played on Sunday January 18, and the games will be aired on FOX and CBS respectively. The Pro Bowl game will be played on Sunday, January 25 and aired on ESPN. Super Bowl XLIX itself is slated for February 1 and will be aired on NBC and played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The backdrop for these Wild Card games and the other NFL playoffs schedule matchups is storied.
Notably, Pittsburgh lost Le'Veon Bell when he took a hit to the knee, taking him out of the game. Though the team won the game, it was not without incident as Bell's replacement, Dri Archer, made several mistakes that nearly killed the Steeler's momentum. If Bell is out of the game when the Steelers meet Baltimore, things could go badly. So far, it appears the running back is good to go against the Ravens.
Arizona is much worse off with three key players down, including Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Andre Ellington. Palmer, most of all, will be the biggest loss going into the NFL playoff schedule, and the injury to Stanton was a final blow that the Cardinals may not recover from with a third-string QB.
Then the Lions and Dallas are hard to ignore with Detroit not having won a road game in the playoffs since 1957 - a solid history of road choke - and the Cowboys coming into the playoffs riding a four-game winning streak, but with a recent history of choking when the NFL playoffs appear.
Finally, we come to the Bengals who have not been doing well for themselves over the past few years when Wild Cards come around. This NFL playoff schedule has them against Indianapolis and with Andy Dalton playing a mediocre game and star receiver AJ Greene likely out with a concussion from the Broncos match.
The Wild Card Weekend matchups will be interesting, but most have likely made their picks at this point. Betting odds are already up, according to the International Business Times.