Playoff Matchups Are Set After A Wild Finish
Sunday dawned and plenty of playoff seeds were yet to be decided. In the AFC, the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers were all fighting for their lives. In the end only the Chargers could pull of a win to lock up the No. 6 seed. The Patriots won to lock up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
The NFC was much murkier. Some berths were clinched but no seeds were set. The Seattle Seahawks won to lock up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Division rival San Francisco won to lock up the No. 5 seed and a date with the Green Bay Packers who won a do-or-die game against the Chicago Bears at the last second. The Panthers’ win secured them a first-round bye, while the Saints beat the Buccaneers to punch their ticket. Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles faced off against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and narrowly escaped, clinching the final playoff spot up for grabs.
Here’s a look at next week’s slate and how the teams match up.
AFC Wild-Card Round
Kansas City Chiefs (5) at Indianapolis Colts (4)
Jan. 4, Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET
In a rematch from Week 16, the Chiefs will be on the road against the Colts. In their first meeting, the Colts handled the Chiefs easily 23-7. With most of their starters resting in Week 17, the Chiefs won’t go down so easily this time around.
After starting off hot, the Chiefs have stumbled in the second half. If they can limit the Colts passing game this should be one of the better matchups of the week.
San Diego Chargers (6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3)
Jan. 5, Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET
We have another rematch in this one, as the Bengals beat the Chargers 17-10 back in Week 13. On paper the Bengals are an all-around better team, but the Chargers are hot, having won four in a row since they lost to Cincinnati.
NFC Wild-Card Round
New Orleans Saints (6) at Philadelphia Eagles (3)
Jan. 4, Saturday at 8:10 p.m. ET
In the only game that doesn’t feature a rematch, we instead get two quarterbacks hailing from the same High School in Texas. Drew Brees and the Saints get the Philadelphia Eagles and their high-powered offense led by Nick Foles.
This has the makings of a shootout. After a successful inaugural season, we’ll get to see how Chip Kelly’s offense fairs in the playoffs. All season the Saints Achilles’ heel has been road games where they went just 3-5. Playing outdoors in the cold, it paints a grim picture for New Orleans. They were definitely Cowboys fans this Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers (5) at Green Bay Packers (4)
Jan. 5, Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET
The 49ers beat the Packers 34-28 way back in Week 1 to start off the season, and they both endured rocky roads to get to where they are today. With Aaron Rodgers back under center, the Packers will have a fighting chance in this one. But their defense will be the real key to this game. If they can’t stop Colin Kaepernick, having Rodgers back will mean nothing. We all know what the 49ers defense can do.