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How Sunday's Games Affect the NFL Playoff Picture – The New York Times

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Kansas City and Tampa Bay’s blowout victories, over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, sandwiched the only upset of wild-card weekend: sixth-seeded San Francisco beating third-seeded Dallas.
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The longest regular season in N.F.L. history set the table for the longest wild-card weekend in N.F.L. history. The playoff picture is slowly whittling into form, with five games on Saturday and Sunday that established all the A.F.C. divisional-round matchups and all but one of the N.F.C.’s games.
The bracket will not be finalized until the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals finish their game, the first time the league has ever held a playoff game on a Monday. Still, the other remaining teams know where they must book their travel arrangements for next week’s games, which will be on Saturday and Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers, who upset the Dallas Cowboys, will face the top-seeded Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. The Buccaneers will host the winner of Monday’s night’s game on Sunday at 3 p.m. For the A.F.C., the Tennessee Titans, the No. 1 seed, will host Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., while the Bills will play at Kansas City on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.
The two games, though they transpired as expected according to seeding, emphasized the league’s young stars were able to lead their teams in the playoffs.
Josh Allen and the Bills easily dispatched New England, 47-17, asserting themselves as Super Bowl contenders and reminding Patriots Coach Bill Belichick that his rebuild behind the rookie quarterback Mac Jones was not yet complete. In frigid conditions, Allen threw for 308 yards and five touchdowns, and the Bills’ defense, the top-ranked unit in the N.F.L., held the Patriots to only 89 rushing yards and intercepted Jones twice.
The Bills, the No. 3 seed, will now travel to Kansas City, the No. 2 seed. It is a rematch of last season’s conference championship, which Kansas City won convincingly. The teams played in Week 5, when the Bills won, 38-20. Much has changed since then, most notably Kansas City’s defense, which was considered one of the worst units in the league earlier this season.
The Bengals withstood a late-game surge to beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 26-19, after intercepting a Derek Carr pass in the red zone in the closing seconds. The second-year quarterback Joe Burrow led the Bengals to the organization’s first playoff win in 31 years, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns. They now must face the Titans, who are hopeful that the bye week gave running back Derrick Henry extra time to rest his surgically repaired foot.
After a sluggish opening defined by miscommunications with Tom Brady and his younger receivers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers easily defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 31-15, to advance to the divisional round.
The Buccaneers held Philadelphia scoreless until the fourth quarter, and self-inflicted mishaps — errant throws by Jalen Hurts, dropped passes and a muffed punt by Jalen Reagor recovered by Tampa Bay — doomed the Eagles from securing an upset. Tampa Bay will host the winner of Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals. Tampa Bay played the Rams in Week 3 and lost, 34-24.
In the first upset of the postseason, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 23-17, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, leaning as they did all season on the versatile receiver Deebo Samuel, an effective rushing attack and a stout defensive showing.
The 49ers held the Cowboys, the league’s top-scoring offense in the regular season, to just one touchdown in the first three quarters. An attempted fourth-quarter rally fell short after Dak Prescott awkwardly failed to spike the ball before time expired. The 49ers, the No. 6 seed, will travel to Lambeau Field to face the top-seeded Green Bay Packers. The two played in Week 3, and it took a last-second field goal to lift the Packers to a 30-28 victory.
After a slow start and allowing a T.J. Watt scoop-and-score, Kansas City rebounded to blow out the Pittsburgh Steelers, 42-21, in what is believed to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last game. Patrick Mahomes threw for 404 yards and five touchdowns, displaying the Kansas City offense’s usual offensive firepower. Kansas City, the No. 2 seed, will now face the Bills, the No. 3 seed.
All times are Eastern.
No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals vs. No. 1 Tennessee Titans, Saturday, 4:30 p.m., CBS
No. 3 Buffalo Bills vs. No. 2 Kansas City, Sunday, 6:30 p.m., CBS
No. 6 San Francisco 49ers vs. No. 1 Green Bay Packers, Saturday, 8:15 p.m., Fox
No. 4 Los Angeles Rams or No. 5 Arizona Cardinals vs. No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, 3 p.m., NBC
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