Let the playoffs begin.
The NFL postseason will officially kick off on Jan. 7 when the
travel to Houston to take on the
in a wild-card game. It’s kind of fitting that the playoffs will begin in Houston this year, because that’s also where the postseason will end on Feb. 5 when NRG Stadium hosts Super Bowl LI.
A Super Bowl stadium hosting a playoff game is actually pretty rare. Before this year, the last time it happened came in 1998 when Hard Rock Stadium (then Pro Player Stadium) hosted the Super Bowl and a playoff game for the
The downside here for the Texans is that no teams have ever made it to the Super Bowl when the game is being played in their home stadium. So feel free to go ahead and write off the Texans.
Speaking of Houston, if the
get to the Super Bowl, they won’t have to leave the state of Texas to do it. Dallas opens up postseason play on Jan. 15 and if they win that game, they’d host the NFC title game on Jan. 22.
This postseason is a big one for the state of Texas. With the Cowboys and Texans both in the playoffs, it marks the first time since 1993 that two Texas teams have made the playoffs in the same season.
This year’s playoffs will have a dramatically different look than the postseason had last year. A total of six teams that made the playoffs in 2015 won’t be returning (
), including both Super Bowl participants.
The last time both Super Bowl participants missed the playoffs the following year came in 2003 when the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
and Raiders both missed the postseason the year after playing in Super Bowl XXXVII.
With six teams from last year sitting at home, that means six new teams made it this season, so let’s welcome the Dolphins, Raiders,
New York Giants
and Cowboys to the postseason.
So when will they play?
Let’s get to postseason schedule and find out.
Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, Jan. 7
AFC: (5) Oakland at (4) Houston, 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC): If you love good quarterback play, this probably isn’t the playoff game you want to watch. The 12-4 Raiders will be limping into Houston with either
as their starter. The Texans won’t be much better with either
as their starter. This will be the first time this season these two teams have played in America. Back in Week 11, the Raiders beat the Texans 27-20 in a game that was played in Mexico City. However, the Raiders had
in that game, and they won’t have him on Saturday.
NFC: (6) Detroit at (3) Seattle, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC): This game could turn into a nightmare for the Lions because the
have basically been unbeatable at home in the playoffs. Since 2005, the Seahawks have played a total of nine playoff games at home and they’ve won them all. Then you have the Lions, who have never won a road playoff game in the Super Bowl era (0-10).
Sunday, Jan. 9
AFC: (6) Miami at (3) Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS): This will be a rematch of a game the Dolphins won 30-15 back in Week 6. However, things are going to be slightly different this time around. In the first game,
got injured and the
had to play in Miami. This time, the Steelers will be playing at home with a healthy Roethlisberger. The Dolphins will likely be starting
, although there’s an outside chance we could see
. The team has been hopeful that Tannehill will return for the playoffs, but right now, that seems like a long shot because he hasn’t even returned to practice yet.
NFC: (5) New York Giants at (4) Green Bay, 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX): If there’s one team that hates the Giants more than the
New England Patriots
— who lost two Super Bowls to them — it might be the
Green Bay Packers
. The last two times the Giants had to travel to Lambeau Field for a playoff game (2007 and 2011), they won both times and ended up winning the Super Bowl in both years. Just like those two games, the Giants will bring a defense into Green Bay that could cause fits for the Packers offense.
Saturday, Jan. 14
NFC: NY Giants/Seattle/Green Bay at (2) Atlanta, 4:35 p.m. ET (FOX): For the first time since 2012, the Falcons are back in the playoffs, and they’re looking like they’re going to be a tough team to beat. The big advantage for the Falcons is that every game they play for the rest of the postseason will be played indoors, which means Atlanta will get to show off its team speed. This is the fifth time since 1998 that the Falcons have earned a first-round bye. In their four previous appearances, they went 3-1 in the Divisional Round.
AFC: Houston/Oakland/Miami at (1) New England, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS): The Patriots will kick off postseason play on Jan. 14 with a game against the worst remaining AFC seed. For Patriots fans, that’s good news because it means New England will likely just have to beat a backup quarterback — Tom Savage, Matt McGloin or Matt Moore — to earn a berth into the AFC title game.
Sunday, Jan. 15
AFC: Pittsburgh/Oakland/Houston at (2) Kansas City, 1:05 p.m. ET (NBC): Getting a first-round bye has almost been a curse for the
Kansas City Chiefs
. Since the the current playoff format was implemented in 1990, the Chiefs have earned a first-round bye three times (1995, 1997, 2003), and they went 0-3 combined in those three playoff appearances. On the bright side, Andy Reid is 16-2 all-time in games played after a bye week, and the Chiefs will be getting a bye before playing their first game.
NFC: Detroit/NY Giants/Green Bay at (1) Dallas, 4:40 p.m. ET (FOX): The Cowboys could end up facing the Giants in this game, which might cause a panic in Dallas. The Giants handed the Cowboys two of their three losses this year. If the Cowboys can win this game, they’d advance to the NFC Championship for the first time since 1995.
Sunday, Jan. 22
NFC: Worst remaining NFC seed at Best remaining NFC seed, 3:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
AFC: Worst remaining AFC seed at Best remaining AFC seed, 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
Super Bowl LI
Sunday, Feb. 5
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion at NRG Stadium in Houston, 6:30 p.m. ET (FOX)