NFL wild-card weekend preview, playoffs TV schedule


New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees takes on the NFC East-winning Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC wild card game on Saturday. (Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with two games each on Saturday and Sunday. The winners advance to the divisional round next weekend. Here is the breakdown of the weekend’s matchups:

Today’s games:

AFC Wild Card Latest Line  Date/Time (ET) TV/Radio
No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 4 Indianapolis Colts Indianapolis -2.5 Sat., Jan. 4
4:35 p.m.
WRC (Channel 4), WBAL (Channel 11), WTEM (980 AM)

As the Express’ Jeffrey Tomik notes, this is a matchup of the top two AFC teams in turnover margin, with the Chiefs (11-5) at plus-18 and the Colts (11-5) at plus-13. When the teams met Dec. 22, Indianapolis took advantage of the four turnovers by Kansas City en route to a 23-7 victory. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 241 yards and one touchdown in the win.

The Chiefs, just one year removed from a 2-14 season, were the last undefeated team in the league at 9-0 and have seen their fortunes improved drastically with the arrival of Coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. The playoff berth is the Chiefs’ first since 2010.

NFC Wild Card Latest Line Date/Time (ET) TV/Radio
No. 6 New Orleans Saints at No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia -2.5 Sat., Jan. 4
8:10 p.m.
WRC (Channel 4), WBAL (Channel 11), WTEM (980 AM)

Philadelphia (10-6), which finished 4-12 last season, rose to the top of the weakened NFC East under first-year Coach Chip Kelly. He is only the second coach since 1970 to win a division title in the first season on an NFL coaching staff. Barry Switzer was the first to do so in 1994 with the Cowboys.

The Eagles high-powered offense was led by second-year quarterback Nick Foles, who threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and league rushing champion LeSean McCoy, who set franchise records in rushing yards (1,607) and yards from scrimmage (2,146).

New Orleans (11-5) enters the game with the fourth-ranked offense and defense. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for the second most yards this season with 5,162, the third year in a row he has gone over 5,000 yards and fourth time in his career.

Sunday’s games:

AFC Wild Card Latest Line Date/Time (ET) TV/Radio
No. 6 San Diego Chargers at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati -7 Sun., Jan. 5
1:05 p.m.
WUSA (Channel 9), WJZ (Channel 13), WTEM (980 AM)

The Chargers (9-7) needed losses by the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens in the last two weeks of the regular season and a win against the Chiefs to reach the playoffs.

A missed 41-yard field goal by Kansas City’s Ryan Succop resulted in a 27-24 overtime victory for San Diego, which will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Bengals (11-5) rank seventh in the league in points (26.9) and fifth in points allowed (19.1). Coach Marvin Lewis is the second longest tenured NFL coach (10 seasons) behind New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick (13 seasons).

NFC Wild Card Latest Line Date/Time (ET) TV/Radio
No. 5 San Francisco 49ers at No.4 Green Bay Packers San Francisco -3 Sun., Jan. 5
4:40 p.m.
WTTG (Channel 5), WBFF (Channel 45), WTEM (980 AM)

It wasn’t until the Packers (8-7-1) announced just after noon ET Friday that roughly 1,000 tickets had been purchased that the game avoided local TV blackoutWhile Indianapolis and Cincinnati also struggled to sellout their games, few expected that a playoff game at the iconic Lambeau Field would be potentially blacked out in Green Bay, which is expecting record-low temperatures on Sunday.

Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who missed eight weeks with a left collarbone injury, returned last Sunday to lead the team to a 33-28 victory over the Chicago Bears. His presence will give a boost to the underachieving Packers.

San Francisco (12-4) ranks in the top five in points, overall yards and rushing yards allowed per game. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been able to nearly match his superb 2012 season, finishing the regular season with a 91.6 quarterback rating, 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

(Latest lines courtesy of Vegas Insider.)

Jeffrey Tomik of the Express predicts who the winners will be this weekend.

The Post Sports Live panelists offer their predictions for the Super Bowl:

The Post Sports Live crew picks which teams will go head-to-head in Super Bowl XLVIII. (Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

Saturday, Jan. 11

NFC Divisional Round: TBD at No. 1 Seattle Seahawks, at 4:35 p.m. ET on FOX

AFC Divisional Round: TBD at No. 2 New England Patriots, at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS

Sunday, Jan. 12

NFC Divisional Round: TBD at No. 2 Carolina Panthers, at 1:05 p.m. ET on FOX

AFC Divisional Round: TBD at No. 1 Denver Broncos, at 4:40 p.m. ET on CBS

The divisional championship games are on Jan. 19 with times TBD.

The Super Bowl will be played on Feb. 2 at 6:30 ET on FOX.

Kelyn Soong is a news aide and blogger and covers high school tennis for The Washington Post sports section.
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