With the Wild Card round in the rear-view mirror, the NFL playoffs are now down to eight teams left standing.
The New England Patriots are, obviously, not among them; they were eliminated from even participating in the tournament after finishing the regular season with an 8-9 record. As for those 14 teams who actually did make it in, six already had to bag their bags and head home again.
In the AFC, the three lowest seeds were all eliminated, with the fifth-ranked Los Angeles Chargers (30-31 in Jacksonville), sixth-ranked Baltimore Ravens (17-24 in Cincinnati), and seventh-ranked Miami Dolphins (31-34 in Buffalo) unable to pull off the necessary upsets to stay alive. This means the Patriots’ conference is down to the top four coming out of the regular season.
In the NFC, meanwhile, only one lower-ranked team was eliminated: the Seattle Seahawks, who lost 41-23 to San Francisco. The No. 3 Minnesota Vikings (24-31 against New York) and No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (14-31 against Dallas), on the other hand, were both upset at home.
The resulting schedule after the weekend’s six games now looks as follows:
AFC playoff schedule
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars at (1) Kansas City Chiefs: The AFC’s top-ranked team will enter the action on Saturday, hosting the red-hot Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium. Jacksonville is coming into this one off an improbable comeback win from 27-0 down to the Chargers, but despite its efforts is a heavy underdog to Patrick Mahomes and company. | Saturday, Jan. 21, 4:30 p.m. ET
(3) Cincinnati Bengals at (2) Buffalo Bills: Three weeks after their Monday night meeting had to be suspended after Bills safety Damar Hamlin’s in-game collapse, the Bengals and Bills will meet again. This contest will be played in Buffalo as opposed to Cincinnati, but regardless of location it will be an emotional contest — and one between two potent teams who both had their struggles on Wild Card weekend. | Sunday, Jan. 22, 3 p.m. ET
NFC playoff schedule
(6) New York Giants at (1) Philadelphia Eagles: The all-NFC East battle between the sixth-seeded Giants and top-seeded Eagles should, on paper, be a rather lopsided affair: Philadelphia won both regular season meetings against its division rivals, including a 22-16 victory just two weeks ago. Of course, games are not played on paper and the Eagles showing any kind of rust after their bye week could be dangerous. | Saturday, Jan. 21, 8:15 p.m. ET
(5) Dallas Cowboys at (2) San Francisco 49ers: A historic playoff rivalry will be continued this weekend. The Cowboys will head to the Bay Area to take on the 49ers to close out the divisional slate. San Francisco is one of the league’s best teams, but being led by seventh-round rookie QB Brock Purdy makes for an interesting dynamic. If Dallas can throw him off his game, the team could make it 2-for-2 in road victories this playoff tournament. | Sunday, Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m. ET