The Philadelphia Eagles were in big trouble, as their Most Valuable Player candidate Carson Wentz was done for the year with a torn ACL and backup quarterback Nick Foles looked lost in the final two regular-season games.
Despite having the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles were underdogs to the sixth-seeded Atlanta Falcons. Everything was pointing toward an Atlanta victory in the divisional playoffs, especially when Matt Ryan and the defending conference champions had a 1st-and-goal from the 9-yard line in the final moments while trailing by a scant five points.
However, the Eagles defense held fast, and when Ryan's fourth-down pass skimmed the outstretched fingertips of wideout Julio Jones, the Eagles had a hard-earned 15-10 victory.
Foles completed 23 of 30 passes for 246 yards, and while he did not throw a touchdown pass, he did not throw any interceptions.
Foles led several key drives, and the Eagles were able to punch in one touchdown on a LeGarrette Blount one-yard TD run. Jake Elliott added three field goals.
Elliott also missed an extra point, but that mistake did not cost the Eagles.
Foles had a sharp game, but he gave credit to his teammates for their resiliency. "We do this together," said Foles, per Tim McManus of ESPN.com "Not any one person has to be superhuman. That alleviates a lot of the pressure when you know every single guy is playing for each other."
While the Eagles had to stop the Falcons on their final possession to earn the victory, the New England Patriots did not play with that kind of pressure.
After spotting the Tennessee Titans the opening touchdown of the game in the first quarter, New England went about its business and rolled to a 35-14 victory.
Tom Brady threw three TD passes, and the Patriots scored five consecutive touchdowns to punish the Titans.
The Patriots defense attacked and harassed Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota throughout the game, registering eight sacks.
New England will host the winner of Sunday's game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sunday, January 14
AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS, CBS Sports Network)
NFC: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings, 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox, Fox Sports Go)
Sunday, January 21
AFC: Jacksonville Jaguars or Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS, CBS Sports Network)
NFC: New Orleans Saints or Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles, 6:40 p.m. ET (Fox, Fox Sports Go)
The combination of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown is probably the best skill-position trio in the league. In addition to playing for a spot in the AFC title game, Pittsburgh was hammered 30-9 by the Jaguars in Week 5, so the Steelers have revenge in mind.
Roethlisberger threw five interceptions in that game, and that's unlikely to happen in the rematch.
The New Orleans Saints are coming off a wild-card victory over the Carolina Panthers, and Drew Brees leads a dangerous offensive team into U.S. Bank Stadium to take on the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings.
In addition to Brees' accurate passing to wideout Michael Thomas, the Saints have one of the best running attacks in the league with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. They combined for 1,852 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.
However, the Vikings have the top-ranked defense in the league and the home-field edge. New Orleans may have to play a near-perfect game to get the road upset.