NFL announces 2018-19 playoffs schedule for the wild-card and divisional rounds
We know the schedule for the first two rounds of the 2018-19 NFL playoffs, and a lot of it looks familiar.
The Dallas Cowboys will be in primetime, of course. The AFC South champion will be in a familiar spot, the first game of wild-card weekend. The New England Patriots have a first-round bye, yet again.
Here is the playoff schedule through the first two rounds of the playoffs:
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, Saturday Jan. 5, 4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Colts got the final spot of the NFL playoffs with a 33-17 win over the Tennessee Titans in the 2018 regular-season finale. The Colts are the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs after starting 1-5, and one of their wins down the stretch was a 24-21 victory at Houston on Dec. 9. The Texans have to be a bit disappointed to not have a first-round bye. They had an inside track to it, but a last-second comeback by the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16 knocked them down to the No. 3 seed (and ultimately helped get the Eagles a playoff spot). However, after an 0-3 start, the Texans looked like a long shot to make the playoffs at all. Quarterback Deshaun Watson had a remarkable season to carry his team to the postseason despite being sacked 62 times.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys, Saturday Jan. 5, 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox
The Cowboys turned their season around after a 3-5 start, getting hot to take the NFC East title. There isn’t much talk anymore about Jason Garrett’s job security, a constant topic of conversation during that slow start. A trade for receiver Amari Cooper made a big difference in Dallas’ season. They’ll face a Seahawks team that relies on the running game, its defense and star quarterback Russell Wilson to make a few big plays each game.
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday Jan. 6, 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS
In Week 16, the Ravens upset the Chargers in Los Angeles. That was a huge outcome in the AFC playoff picture. The Ravens went on to win the AFC North and the Chargers missed out on a chance to win the AFC West and get the No. 1 seed. Instead, a talented Chargers team will go on the road to face the Ravens, who heated up with a run-first offense led by rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears, Sunday Jan. 6, 4:40 p.m. ET on NBC
The Eagles looked like they were finished at 6-7. But Nick Foles took over at quarterback for injured Carson Wentz, the defending Super Bowl champions won their last three games and got help to make the playoffs. They’ll face a Bears team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010, and got to the postseason with a dominant defense led by pass rusher Khalil Mack.
Lowest seed at Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday Jan. 12, 4:35 p.m. ET on NBC
In Week 17, Patrick Mahomes became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in the same season, joining Peyton Manning in 2013. He’ll likely be the MVP, and he’ll try to turn around the Chiefs’ disappointing playoff history. The Chiefs have one of the most exciting offenses in the league and a great home-field edge.
Highest seed at Los Angeles Rams, Saturday Jan. 12, 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox
The Rams clinched the No. 2 seed with a win in Week 17. That’s big because it gives star running back Todd Gurley, who missed the final two games with a knee injury, another week to heal. The Rams are a star-studded team, including probable NFL defensive player of the year Aaron Donald, and their expectation is to win a Super Bowl.
Highest seed at New England Patriots, Sunday Jan. 13, 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS
The Patriots finished the regular season on a strong note, beating the Jets 38-3. The Patriots have won two AFC championships in a row, and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are two wins away from going back to another Super Bowl. New England wasn’t as great as usual, but did finish 8-0 at home.
Lowest seed at New Orleans Saints, Sunday Jan. 13, 4:40 p.m. ET on Fox
The New Orleans Saints clinched the top seed in the NFC in Week 16. They’re known for their offense, led by NFL all-time leading passer Drew Brees, but the defense played well for most of the second half of the season. The Saints have one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.