NFL playoff picture: First-round playoff games are set except for NFC West champion
When the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears, 10-3, on a bone-chilling afternoon at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., they earned an NFC wild-card spot and ended the playoff hopes for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When the Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans on a last-second field goal, 23-20, the reigning AFC champions clinched the AFC South title for the seventh time in eight years.
The two games helped set the stage for the first round of the NFL playoffs. The final playoff spot went to the Seattle Seahawks, who became the first division champion with a losing record (7-9) after defeating the St. Louis Rams, 16-6, on Sunday night. The Seahawks will host an NFC first-round game next week.
Earlier in the day, the Atlanta Falcons earned the NFC's top seeding and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 31-10 rout of the Carolina Panthers while the Pittsburgh Steelers secured the AFC North crown with a 41-9 thumping of the Cleveland Browns. The New England Patriots already clinched the AFC's top seeding last week and will be joined by the Steelers in receiving a bye next week. The Bears already clinched the NFC's second seeding.
The New Orleans Saints were the big loser on the day, going from a chance to win the NFC South to falling into the sixth-seeded position after a 23-13 loss to Tampa Bay. On the positive side for New Orleans, they do travel to play the Seahawks.
Here's the first-round schedule:
Saturday, Jan. 8 (times PST)
New Orleans at Seattle, 1:30 p.m. (NBC)
N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis, 5 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Jan. 9 (times PST)
Baltimore at Kansas City, 10 a.m. (CBS)
Green Bay at Philadelphia, 1:30 p.m. (FOX)
Photo: Peyton Manning and the Colts came through when it counted Sunday against Tennessee, defeating the Titans on a last-second field goal. Credit: US Presswire