The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, champions of the National Football Conference Central Division, and the Dallas Cowboys, winners of the NFC East, will be the first game of the National Football League conference semifinal playoffs Saturday, Jan. 2, Commissioner Pete Rozelle announced yesterday.
The Cowboys will be the home team on the basis of having finished the regular season with a better record than Tampa Bay, 12-4 to 9-7. The game will begin at 1 p.m.
Following that, the 11-4-1 Miami Dolphins, champions of the American Football Conference East, will be at home against the Denver Broncos or San Diego Chargers, whichever team wins the AFC West, at 5 p.m.
The other conference semifinal games will be played Jan. 3.
In the opener at 1 p.m., the winner of Sunday's AFC wild-card game between the Buffalo Bills (10-6) and the New York Jets (10-5-1) will be at Cincinnati to play the Bengals (12-4), champions of the AFC Central. The second game, at 5 p.m., will have the winner of Sunday's NFC wild-card game, either the New York Giants (9-7) or the Philadelphia Eagles (10-6), at San Francisco to play the 49ers (13-3), winners of the NFC West.
The semifinal winners will meet for the conference championships Jan. 10, with the times and sites to be determined. Then, the AFC and NFC titleholders will play in Super Bowl XVI at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., Jan. 24 at 4 p.m.