The NFL’s decision not to air “Sunday Night Football” seemed strange before chaos descended on the league as the regular season came to a close.
With so many playoff-eligible teams fighting for a shot at the postseason at once, Week 17 turned out to be one of the best weeks of the year. After a miracle win by Cincinnati, a nail-biter in Tennessee and a close one in Miami, the 2018 NFL playoff field is set with the first games kicking off Saturday.
Here is the schedule, with kickoff times and television information, for the four games of wild-card weekend:
Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET
Kansas City rested some starters in Week 17, including quarterback Alex Smith, as the AFC West champions defeated Denver. The Titans played a win-and-in game against the Jaguars. Neither team came off the field breathing too easy. Tennessee held on late for a 15-10 victory while the Chiefs used a last-second field goal for a 27-24 road win. Between wideout Tyreek Hill, tailback Kareem Hunt and Smith running the offense, K.C. has more than enough firepower to make a deep playoff run, but it hasn’t made it past the divisional round since 1993.
Atlanta Falcons (10-6) at Los Angeles Rams (11-5)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET
The reigning NFC champion Falcons snuck into the playoffs and will have to face a juggernaut Rams offense before it can go any further. Led by second-year quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley III on offense — to say nothing of Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree on defense — Los Angeles has been one of the darling teams all season long. Atlanta will need a 2016-esqe performance from quarterback Matt Ryan in this one, which doesn’t seem likely since his QB rating has dropped from 117.1 last year to 91.4 this season.
Buffalo Bills (9-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET
The most unexpected playoff matchup has a chance to give us an all-time great wild-card game. Buffalo is back in the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season after the Bengals’ last-second victory against the Ravens capped off the regular season. That gives Bills Mafia a reason to travel to Florida in January, which is as intimidating as anything you’ll see on the field. The Jaguars are riding one of the best defenses in the league (289 yards allowed per game) and the NFL’s top rushing attack (145.3 yards per game) after an improbable season saw them capture the third division title in team history.
Carolina Panthers (11-5) at New Orleans Saints (11-5)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET
The Saints are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 and get to play at home where they are 5-0 in the postseason. That’s quite a spoil for the NFC South champions. New Orleans swept the Panthers this season, hanging 30-plus points on them in each outing. Even with a dynamic tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara in the backfield, this is still a vulnerable team. The Saints went 3-3 over the final six weeks of the season which has caused a bit of concern. That bodes well for a Panthers team that’s won seven of its last nine games.
AFC byes: New England Patriots (13-3), Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)
NFC byes: Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), Minnesota Vikings (13-3)
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