Thanks to Houston’s late-season slump, Denver and New England will have byes when the AFC playoffs begin next week.
The Texans fell from first to third in the conference Sunday when they lost 28-16 at Indianapolis, which welcomed back coach Chuck Pagano after nearly three months of treatments for leukemia.
AFC West champion Denver won its 11th straight game, 38-3 over Kansas City to secure the top seed. New England blanked Miami 28-0 for the second spot.
Minnesota edged Green Bay 37-34 to grab the final NFC wild card, sinking the Packers to the third seed. Those teams will meet again next Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
The other NFC matchup will have Seattle (11-5), which beat St. Louis 20-13, at either Washington or Dallas on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET. Those teams met Sunday night for the NFC East crown.
Cincinnati (10-6) will be at Houston on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET, and Indianapolis (11-5) goes to at Baltimore (10-6) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the AFC wild-card rounds.
The divisional round games will be hosted by Denver on Saturday, Jan. 12, followed by San Francisco (11-4-1) at night. On Sunday, Jan. 13, Atlanta (13-3) will host the early game, followed by New England (12-4).
Peyton Manning threw for three touchdowns as Denver (13-3) routed the Chiefs. New England got the second seed despite having the same record as Houston because it beat the Texans, who lost three of their final four games.
Adrian Peterson had 199 yards against the Packers, finishing with 2,097 _ Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark in 2,105. But it was rookie kicker Blair Walsh who won it with a 29-yard field goal as time expired.
“”Ultimately we got the `W,’” Peterson said. “I told myself to come into this game focused on one thing, and that’s winning.”
Green Bay would have been seeded second in the NFC by beating Minnesota.
“The road got a little tougher having to play on opening weekend, but we’ve got a home game and that’s why you win the division,” Aaron Rodgers said. “We get to go back home, and the game will be different. They won’t have home-crowd advantage, and hopefully that will make a difference.”
Baltimore Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed is looking forward to a reunion with Pagano. He wishes it would come a little later in the postseason.
“Chuck’s like a dad to me,” Reed said “He means a lot to me. I would have much rather seen them in the AFC championship game than the first game.”
But Reed will see him next week at Baltimore.