NFL playoff image: Breaking down every wild-card matchup

The Detroit Lions didn’t want a playoff berth as motivation Sunday night time. Pleasure was sufficient.

Regardless of studying earlier than kickoff that the door to the postseason was closed, the Lions nonetheless upset the Inexperienced Bay Packers 20-16 to finish the season of their NFC North rivals at Lambeau Discipline.

It was win-and-in for the Packers, who got here into the finale on a four-game profitable streak.

The Lions, who received off to a 1-6 begin this season, received eight of their closing 10 video games to complete with a profitable file. They’d have made the playoffs had the Rams not misplaced at Seattle earlier within the day, a recreation determined by a discipline aim in additional time.

Former Inexperienced Bay working again Jamaal Williams, now with the Lions, scored two touchdowns in opposition to his former workforce Sunday night time. After tearfully speaking in regards to the current demise of his great-grandfather, Williams turned his consideration to critics of the Lions.

“Stop playing us, man,” he mentioned. “We’re the Detroit Lions. Stop playing with us. I don’t even watch TV, but I heard everybody picked the Packers over us. Don’t let these tears fool you.”

Because of the Lions’ win, the Seahawks are headed to the playoffs because the NFC’s seventh seed and can play at San Francisco. The 49ers swept Seattle throughout the common season, 27-7 and 21-13.

Many glad returns

A video board at Levi’s Stadium reveals a message of assist for Payments security Damar Hamlin throughout a recreation between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

(Jed Jacobsohn / Related Press)

Damar Hamlin, the Buffalo security recovering from the cardiac arrest he suffered in a recreation six days earlier, was in all places Sunday. By design, gamers and coaches on each workforce throughout the NFL wore T-shirts honoring him that learn, “Love for Damar 3.”

Hamlin was watching — and tweeting — from the College of Cincinnati Medical Middle, the place he has made exceptional strides in his restoration.

Nowhere was the considered him extra entrance and heart than in Buffalo, the place his teammate and shut buddy Nyheim Hines opened the finale in opposition to New England with a kick return for a 96-yard landing. Later within the Payments’ 35-23 victory, Hines ran again a second kickoff for a 101-yard landing, turning into the primary Buffalo participant to have two such scores in a recreation.

“I’m speechless,” Hines mentioned. “I’m so thankful it was me to bring that juice, but it’s way bigger than me. That’s what I always thought about, and that’s what I thought all day. It’s just bigger than me and bigger than those 10 guys who did a great job of blocking for me.”

Take a breather

Kansas Metropolis and Philadelphia secured the highest seeds of their respective conferences, which means they get every week off and — for the Eagles, at the very least — home-field benefit by means of the playoffs.

It could possibly be somewhat totally different for the Chiefs, nevertheless. In the event that they had been to wind up dealing with Buffalo within the AFC championship recreation, that recreation can be performed at a impartial web site. That’s as a result of each groups may have been the No. 1 seed had all groups performed a full, 17-game common season. Buffalo’s recreation at Cincinnati final Monday night time was suspended and finally canceled due to the Hamlin scenario.

Welcome to the get together

In every of the final 45 seasons, at the very least one workforce has received its division a yr after lacking the playoffs.

That occurred twice this season, with Jacksonville profitable the AFC South and Minnesota profitable the NFC North. Philadelphia (NFC East) and San Francisco (NFC West) are additionally new division winners this season.

Quiet end

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady passes in opposition to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

(John Bazemore / Related Press)

Tom Brady breaks data on a regular basis, however that is one private mark he hoped to keep away from: his first dropping season.

Though it’s nonetheless heading to the playoffs because the NFC South champion, Tampa Bay completed 8-9 with a 30-17 loss to Atlanta. Earlier than this season, Brady had 21 consecutive profitable seasons (together with seven Tremendous Bowl rings).

Then once more, Brady watched most of this finale from the sideline. He was changed by Blaine Gabbert with 4 minutes left within the second quarter. That accounted for the 45-year-old famous person’s modest stat line: 13 for 17 for 84 yards and a landing.

That landing was Brady’s twenty fifth scoring move of the season. He has 17 profession seasons with at the very least 25 landing passes, eclipsing Peyton Manning (16) for essentially the most such seasons in NFL historical past.

The Buccaneers will play host to Dallas within the wild-card spherical.

Flipping the script

Cincinnati was by no means pleased with the NFL decision that would have value the Bengals a house playoff recreation.

Had they misplaced Sunday’s recreation to Baltimore, the placement of their first-round rematch with the Ravens would have been topic to a coin toss.

However that didn’t occur, with the Bengals profitable 27-16 and locking down a house recreation for the wild-card spherical.

Cincinnati working again Joe Mixon used the controversy throughout his landing celebration within the first quarter, eradicating a coin from his glove after his one-yard scoring run and flipping it in the long run zone. Then the working again made a kicking movement as if booting the coin into the stands.

It’s uncommon, however gamers have used props to rejoice touchdowns earlier than, together with huge receiver Joe Horn hiding a cellphone below the goal-post pad and huge receiver Terrell Owens producing a Sharpie from his sock and signing the ball. Mixon, who’s prone to be fined by the NFL, mentioned former Bengals star Chad Johnson promised to pay it for him.

Stacking the sacks

Philadelphia led the NFL with 70 sacks this season, tying the Eagles with the 1987 Chicago Bears for the third-most sacks in a season. Solely the 1984 Bears (72) and 1989 Minnesota Vikings (71) had extra.

Successful by dropping

The Bears secured the No.1 decide within the NFL draft by advantage of their 29-13 loss to Minnesota.

Houston had the within observe on the highest decide however misplaced that by beating Indianapolis on Sunday.

“We wanted to leave the season with a good taste in our mouth and to do it that way where you have to scratch and claw. We’ve lost a few games right at the end, overtime and all of that,” mentioned Lovie Smith, who later Sunday was fired as Texans coach. “So it was good to see those guys kind of finish this one.”

The Bears have had the No. 1 choice twice of their historical past, however each instances had been within the Nineteen Forties.

Chicago wants assistance on its offensive and defensive traces and at huge receiver, however the Bears have a potent offensive weapon in Justin Fields, who completed the season 64 yards wanting the all-time file for speeding yards by a quarterback. (Nonetheless, the Bears had been final in passing.)