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NFL playoff preview: a first look at Wild Card Weekend
December 31, 2017

AROUND THE NFL — The regular season is done; long live the regular season.

Black Monday, or the day that many non-playoff-bound NFL teams fire their head coaches, came early, and that can only mean one thing.

The playoffs are here.

Here’s a first look at Wild Card Weekend, the opening week of the NFL playoffs.

Saturday, Jan. 6

No. 5 Tennessee Titans at No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs

Kickoff: 2:35 p.m. MST


Marcus Mariota had his best running game since a broken right leg ended his season prematurely last year, and the Titans (9-7) beat Jacksonville 15-10 Sunday to clinch an AFC wild-card berth.

Mariota ran for a season-high 60 yards on 10 carries, and threw for 134 yards and a touchdown on a screen pass to Derrick Henry, to book Tennessee’s first postseason since 2009.

Patrick Mahomes II made his first career start in the season finale for the Chiefs (10-6), which had already clinched a postseason berth and will start Alex Smith next Saturday.

No. 6 Atlanta Falcons at No. 3 Los Angeles Rams

Kickoff: 6:15 p.m. MST


The reigning NFC champion Falcons (10-6) booked a spot in the playoffs when Matt Bryant booted five field goals, including a 56-yarder, in Atlanta’s 22-10 win over Carolina.

The Rams (11-5) head into their first playoff appearance since the 2004 season, despite losing to Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ five-game win streak to end the season.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the pocket against Carolina Panthers' Luke Kuechly (59) and Mario Addison (97) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Atlanta. (Photo: David Goldman, AP Photo)

Sunday, Jan. 7

No. 6 Buffalo Bills at No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars

Kickoff: 11:05 a.m. MST


The Bills (9-7) ended a 17-year playoff drought — the longest in the league — in the most dramatic of fashions.

First, Buffalo had to avoid elimination, which it did with a 22-16 win over Miami.

Then, the entire Bills locker room, and fans around the country, were glued to the final moments of Cincinnati and Baltimore. When Andy Dalton’s touchdown secured a win for the Bengals, the Bills clinched an AFC wild-card berth for the first time since 1999.

Thank you, @Bengals.

— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018

The Jaguars (10-6) will host the Bills in the first playoff games in Jacksonville since the AFC championship game in January 2000.

No. 5 Carolina Panthers at No. 4 New Orleans Saints

Kickoff: 2:40 p.m. MST


The Panthers (11-5) could’ve moved up in the playoff order this weekend, but the loss to Atlanta combined with Minnesota’s 23-10 win over Chicago earlier Sunday ended Carolina’s hopes at a first-round bye.

The Saints (11-5) celebrated their first NFC South championship in six years, despite a 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay in the regular-season finale.

First-round byes

Philadelphia, New England, Pittsburgh and Minnesota all advanced to the division round.