NFL Playoff Schedule 2014: Dates and Matchup Predictions for AFC and NFC

Alex Kay@AlexPKayCorrespondent IDecember 28, 2013

Dec 15, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is pressured by Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) during the first half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The conclusion of the 2013 NFL regular season is nearly here and soon the much-anticipated playoffs will begin.

Two teams are still attempting to secure a postseason berth, but it’s not too early to take a look at the key dates in the upcoming playoffs.

Current Standings

AFC Division Leaders and Wild Card

Seed No.TeamW-L Record
1Denver Broncos (AFC West)13-3
2New England Patriots (AFC East)12-4
3Cincinnati Bengals (AFC North)11-5
4Indianapolis Colts (AFC South)11-5
5Kansas City Chiefs11-5
6San Diego Chargers9-7

NFC Division Leaders and Wild Card

Seed No.TeamW-L Record
1Seattle Seahawks (NFC West)13-3
2Carolina Panthers (NFC South)12-4
3Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East)10-6
4Green Bay Packers (NFC North)8-7-1
5San Francisco 49ers12-4
6New Orleans Saints11-5

 Let’s take a look at the schedule, plus make some predictions on the potential matchups in both the AFC and NFC for the 2014 NFL postseason.

Key Dates - 2014 NFL Playoffs
Wild Card WeekendJan. 4-5
Divisional RoundJan. 11-12
Conference ChampionshipsJan. 19
Super Bowl XLVIIIFeb. 2
AFC Wild Card Matchups and Outcome
Home (Seed)Away (Seed)When
Cincinnati Bengals (No. 3)San Diego Chargers (No. 6)1:05 EST, Sunday, Jan. 5
Indianapolis Colts (No. 4)Kansas City Chiefs (No. 5)4:35 EST, Saturday, Jan. 4
NFC Wild Card Predicted Matchups and Outcome
Home (Seed)Away (Seed)When
Philadelphia Eagles (No. 3)New Orleans Saints (No. 6)8:10 EST, Saturday, Jan. 4
Green Bay Packers (No. 4)San Francisco 49ers (No. 5)4:40 EST, Sunday, Jan. 5
Divisional Round Schedule
Saturday, Jan. 11AwayHome
4:35 ESTTBASeattle Seahawks (FOX)
8:15 ESTTBANew England Patriots (CBS)
Saturday, Jan. 12
1:05 ESTTBACarolina Panthers (FOX)
4:40 ESTTBADenver Broncos(CBS)

AFC Wild Card Matchup to Watch: No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals vs. No. 6 San Diego Chargers

The last AFC wild-card spot came down to the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers. Between these four teams it was San Diego that emerged from the chaos with the AFC's final berth.

Unfortunately, San Diego has the misfortune of running into a surging Cincinnati Bengals squad playing at home and looking to advance out of the Wild Card Round for the first time since 1990.

Regardless, the home team will prevail if this ends up being the matchup.

Cincy has put up more than 40 points in four of its last five home games and will not be stopped by a streaky San Diego team.


NFC Wild Card Matchup to Watch

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 29:  Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a second quarter touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles vs. No. 6 New Orleans Saints      

This offensive battle will be one for the ages, with the Saints having to travel to Philly to take on the soaring Eagles.

New Orleans got a Week 17 “W” to get in.

Philadelphia won the de facto NFC East championship game against the Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys to punch a postseason ticket. The Eagles have won seven of their last eight games and are one of the hottest squads in the entire league at this juncture.

It will be Philly’s No. 1 rushing offense trading blows with NOLA’s No. 2-ranked passing attack. The Saints are beatable on the ground—giving up 114.1 yards per game to opposing rushers—and rock-solid against aerial assaults, limiting passers to just 192.7 yards per contest. The Eagles are soft against the pass, ranking 30th in the league by conceding 285.2 yards per game on average.

Don’t be surprised if the Saints attack this group through the air and try to get a few quick scores. The goal will be to put this one out of reach before LeSean McCoy and the Philadelphia rushers can do much damage on the ground.


Home-Field Advantage and Bye Week


Oct 7, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) following the game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Stew Miln
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos locked up the best record in the AFC with a win over the lowly Oakland Raiders.

Meanwhile, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots locked up the No. 2 seed and a bye with their 34-20 win over the Buffalo Bills. Belichick's team survived a strong initial push by the Bills to ensure at least one playoff game occurs at Gillette Stadium.


Dec 22, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks had an immensely tough matchup with the St. Louis Rams to close out the 2013 campaign, but they got it done and avoided consecutive home losses.

While the Rams sacked star quarterback Russell Wilson seven times and almost won in the waning seconds earlier this season, things were different this time around in the 27-9 blowout. 

There was simply too much for Seattle to lose by not taking care of business.

The Carolina Panthers are another team that needed nothing more than a simple win to secure home-field advantage in the second round and get a week of rest. Not many expected this at the start of the year, but head coach Ron Rivera has led his unit to this position and needed one more “W” to cap off an excellent season.

Unfortunately, the appeared Cam Newton and the rest of his teammates overlooked the Atlanta Falcons, because the Panthers only escaped with a one-point victory.

Regardless, the disparity in talent was large, so the Panthers were able to slip past and secure the No. 2 seed.


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