Rematches galore in NFL wild-card playoff round
Published on -12/30/2013, 10:11 AM
By the Associated Press
There will be rematches galore in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs next weekend.
It begins with the Colts hosting the Chiefs on Saturday. Indianapolis won at Kansas City just last week.
At night, in the only first-round game not involving teams that faced each other this season, New Orleans is at Philadelphia.
On Sunday, it's San Diego at Cincinnati; the Bengals won at the Chargers on Dec. 1. And the wild-card finale with San Francisco visiting Green Bay is a redux not only of their season opener but also a divisional playoff matchup from last January. The Niners won both of those.
"I feel really good going into the playoffs this time," Bengals safety Chris Crocker said, recognizing that Cincinnati lost wild-card games at Houston in each of the last two years. "Different team, different type of feeling. We have the momentum, and that's the big thing. And we play at home."
Off next weekend are Denver (13-3) and New England (12-4) in the AFC, Seattle (13-3) and Carolina (12-4) in the NFC.
In the divisional round, Seattle and New England will be at home on Saturday, Jan. 11, with Carolina and Denver hosting games on Jan. 12.
The Eagles and Packers went on the road Sunday and headed home with playoff berths.
Philadelphia completed a terrific turnaround under new coach Chip Kelly by beating Dallas 24-22 to win the NFC East.
Hours before, Aaron Rodgers played the role of returning hero, along with Randall Cobb, in Green Bay's 33-28 victory at Chicago to capture the NFC North title.
For the Eagles (10-6), Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and caught a scoring pass, and Brandon Boykin clinched it with a late interception of Kyle Orton.
Orton was filling in for the Cowboys two days after Tony Romo had back surgery.
"For all the accolades and the stats, if we didn't win today, none of that means nothing," McCoy said.
Philly finished 4-12 last year in its final season under Andy Reid. Kelly arrived from Oregon, and his fast-tempo offense was both praised and ridiculed. Thanks greatly to the development of Foles and the many talents of McCoy, the system worked.
As the defense improved, the Eagles became a force. They won seven of their final eight games.
"A huge win for Philly, a huge win for us, just a great moment," Boykin said.
Dallas (8-8) has lost three straight showdown finales for the NFC East title.
At Chicago, in his first game back from a broken left collarbone, Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb on fourth-and-8 with 38 seconds left for the go-ahead score.
Rodgers had been out since getting injured in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 4.