1 Jan 2018

Atlanta and Buffalo sneak into NFL play-offs

2:38 pm on 1 January 2018

The NFL play-off schedule has been finalised following the completition of the regular season.

Reigning NFC champion Atlanta found a way into the playoffs with a win over the Carolina Panthers, while the Buffalo Bills reached the postseason with a huge assist from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Buffalo will make a playoff appearance for the first time since 1999.

Three NFC South teams are in as wild cards led by the division champ New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons enter the playoffs as the No. 6 seed and visit the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams on wild-card weekend.

Atlanta lost to New England in the Super Bowl to end last season but the Falcons dominated the Panthers 22-10 today to grab the final spot in the NFC playoffs. A Falcons loss would have opened the door for the Seattle Seahawks to swipe the No. 6 seed.

The Panthers are also on the road to begin the playoffs and will play the Saints in New Orleans.

This is the first playoff meeting between the Panthers and Saints. New Orleans won both meetings in the regular season, 34-13 at Charlotte and 31-21 on Dec. 3 in New Orleans.

Philadelphia, the top seed in the NFC, earned a first-round bye. The Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, who won the NFC North and hope to become the first team to ever play the Super Bowl on its home field, host divisional playoff games January 13 or 14.

The AFC first round will have the Bills playing at the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans playing at the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Bills were the final team to qualify. After beating the Miami Dolphins 22-16, Buffalo waited out the Bengals' last-minute rally to beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-27.

New England is the top seed in the AFC playoffs and joins the Pittsburgh Steelers in awaiting the wild-card winners.


Saturday, January 6

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, January 7

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints

In other NFL news... the Oakland Raiders sacked coach Jack Del Rio and the Indianapolis Colts fired Chuck Pagano.

The Cleveland Browns joined the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams in NFL history to go 0-16 with a 28-24 loss to Pittsburgh.