In the last 30 seconds of a half (but not overtime), with the defensive team behind with no more time outs, a defensive foul cannot prevent the half to end except for the normal options that are available to the offensive team.
Pass interference will not be called if there was incidental contact, or if when players make simultaneous attempts to catch, tip, block, or bat the ball.
Players may not use a helmet, that is no longer worn by anyone, as a weapon to strike or hit an opponent; they risk disqualification if they do. This rule was instituted after Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado swung a helmet at New York Jets tackle Chris Ward during a playoff game the previous season.
Starting in 1978, ten teams qualified for the playoffs: the winners of each of the divisions, and two wild-card teams in each conference. The two wild cards would meet for the right to face whichever of the three division winners had the best overall record. The tiebreaker rules were based on head-to-head competition, followed by division records, common opponents records, and conference play.
Los Angeles Raiders was the first AFC seed over Miami based on head-to-head victory (1–0).
Seattle was the first AFC Wild Card ahead of Denver based on better division record (5–3 to Broncos’ 3–5) after Cleveland was eliminated from the three-way tie based on head-to-head record (Seattle and Denver 2–1 to Browns’ 0–2).
New England finished ahead of Buffalo in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
Baltimore finished ahead of N.Y. Jets in the AFC East based on better conference record (5–9, .357 to Jets’ 4–8, .333).
San Diego finished ahead of Kansas City in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
Minnesota ended up in fourth place in the NFC Central after being eliminated from the three-way tie based on conference record (Chicago 7–7 and Green Bay 6–6 to Vikings’ 4–8).
Green Bay finished ahead of Chicago in the NFC Central based on better record against common opponents (4–4 to Bears’ 3–5).
Seattle Seahawks: Chuck Knox joined the Seahawks after resigning from the Bills. Seattle had fired Jack Patera after the team lost their first two games in 1982. Mike McCormack, the team's director of football operations, took over as interim for the remainder of that season.