Sep 25, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Wild-card Weekend Betting: Preview, Prediction and Picks

The NFL playoffs kick off Saturday and run through Monday night as the league spreads the wealth for its fans.

Speaking of spreads, that Buffalo line feels a little high. And that Rams-Lions matchup just might have the wrong team favored.

See how this primary wager developed, along with a bonus play and a player prop below.


Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-10), 1 p.m. ET on CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions (-3), 8 p.m. ET on NBC

We will use adjusted lines to produce a two-leg parlay on this pair of playoff games.

First up: The case for a closer-than-expected, bad-weather matchup between flawed teams.

By now, sports-betting fans are not fooled by the Buffalo Bills. This is a flashy-looking team with middling results that needed a punt return TD to help win its Week 18 game in Miami.

Josh Allen is an elite quarterback who will throw into small windows and risk interceptions. His legs provide the extra element in his array of tools; there’s no doubt he’s entertaining to watch.

The issue is whether his Bills can maintain an adequate ground attack, which should be an easier task against the Steelers’ addled defense (all-world linebacker TJ Watt is injured and will miss Sunday’s game).

But Pittsburgh has prospered by using a cold-weather offense with running back Najee Harris’ physical presence leading the ground attack. This not only will provide some scoring opportunities, but also will help shorten the game — and lessen the chances for a blowout.

It’s been snowing all week in Buffalo and flurries are expected Sunday, but the wind gusts of 20-30 miles per hour would conspire to keep Allen somewhat grounded.

Buffalo is good enough to pound out a victory; the Steelers gained only 289 yards last week against a Baltimore Ravens team resting its top defensive players.

Against all odds, though, Mason Rudolph has quarterbacked Pittsburgh to some success the past few weeks and isn’t likely to be rattled by playoff pressure.

Pressure is something the Lions will say has no effect on their Sunday matchup with the Rams, but LA knows about Detroit QB Jared Goff.

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has plenty of research and options to exploit Goff’s shortcomings.

The LA offense, though, has been a shining reason for the Rams’ 7-1 record to close the regular season.

Matthew Stafford is the better QB in this matchup, Kyren Williams is the top running back and although Detroit’s Amon-Ra St. Brown is arguably the top talent at wide receiver, the Rams’ receiver room is the better of the two teams.

Cooper Kupp has seen his health and production improve, and LA has benefited from a shocking rookie season from Puka Nacua. There are just too many options for the Lions to handle.

Want trends? According to Action Network, home teams winning their last game in the regular season by 10 points or fewer — as Detroit did — stand 17-30-3 (36 percent) against the spread (ATS) in their first playoff game (trend covers the past 20 years).

The Rams have to feel as if they are playing with house money. The Lions have to feel excited just to be back in the playoffs, along with a mix of anxious desperation to please a very hungry city without a home playoff win in 30 years.

On that note, home playoff teams that failed to make the prior season’s playoffs are only 13-29 (31 percent) ATS in the first playoff game.

The bet: Two-leg parlay featuring adjusted line, the Steelers +17.5 with the Rams +7.5 (-118 at DraftKings.)


“I so badly want to win a playoff game for this city, that hasn’t had one in so long. That’s so much more important than anything personally for me.”

–Lions quarterback Jared Goff


Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. ET Monday.
Eagles -3, total 44

The Eagles are grasping for an explanation; the Bucs have a banged-up quarterback.

Baker Mayfield is preparing to play through ankle and rib injuries for Tampa Bay against Philadelphia, which went 1-5 to finish the season.

This Monday game provides dessert after a five-course NFL weekend meal, but it’s not terribly tasty. In fact, the play here is to fade the excitement.

A trend to spotlight comes from the laboratory at Vegas Insider, which found this game’s total to have encouraged enough “under” betting action to qualify.

The past season and a half, when 56 percent or more of the money is showing up on the “under,” the bet has a mark of 45-29 ATS (60.8 percent) to the “under.”

It’s not just sharp money, either. The number of bets (at 56 percent or better), too, brought a record of 35-22 (61.4 percent) to the under.

Both “under” stats were qualifying as of Thursday.

The bet: Eagles-Buccaneers UNDER 44.


Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will gladly try to shove Harris down the Bills’ throats.

If the wind kicks up in Buffalo, this will be an even better option. Grab the “over” 15.5 carries as soon as you can.

Prop play: Steelers running back Najee Harris “over” 15.5 carries. (-114 at FanDuel.)

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff primer: Storylines galore as matchups are nearly set

The Baltimore Ravens haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the 2012 season and the San Francisco 49ers have had some close calls in recent years while chasing their first Super Bowl title since the 1994 campaign.

The two clubs are in the favorite’s roles with first-round byes as the NFL’s 14-team playoff field came closer into focus on Sunday.

The Ravens are the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the 49ers are the top seed in the NFC as the competition for the Lombardi Trophy heats up.

The Dallas Cowboys earned the No. 2 seed and will host the No. 7 seed Green Bay Packers next weekend. The Cowboys perennially receive a lot of attention but the club hasn’t played in the Super Bowl since the 1995 season when quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin were all superstars.

The Detroit Lions are the No. 3 seed and will host the red-hot No. 6-seed Los Angeles Rams in what will be the first playoff game held in Detroit in 30 years. The No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles, the defending NFC champions who are spiraling downward with five defeats in six games.

The AFC matchups won’t be fully known until the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills complete their Sunday night showdown. The AFC matchups won’t be fully known until the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills complete their Sunday night showdown. If the Dolphins win, they would host the Bills again next week, and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs would host the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Bills win, they would host the Steelers next week and the Dolphins would travel to play the Chiefs.

The one fully known matchup in the AFC is that the No. 4 Houston Texans will host the No. 5 Cleveland Browns. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud leads the Texans into battle against veteran Joe Flacco of the Browns.

Baltimore can rest this week and ponder why it has just two playoff victories since winning the Super Bowl. The 49ers have won six playoff games while qualifying in three of the past four seasons, but have failed to win it all despite three NFC title game appearances, one prior to a Super Bowl loss.

Green Bay Packers (9-8) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
Dak Prescott has yet to lead the Cowboys to more than one win in a single postseason. This time around, Dallas has a chance at two home games as it holds the tiebreaker edge over the Lions (oh yeah, the failure to report controversy). Jordan Love has quickly shown that the Packers can be viable without the departed Aaron Rodgers, who failed to come through on last season’s win-and-in contest while Love did get the job done Sunday.

Los Angeles Rams (10-7) at Detroit Lions (12-5)
Matthew Stafford went 0-3 in the playoffs in 12 seasons with the Lions and will now be looking to keep his former team winless in the postseason since the Barry Sanders-led club beat the Dallas Cowboys in the 1991 season. While “Restore the Roar” is real in Motown behind former Los Angeles QB Jared Goff, the Rams have won seven of eight games since their Week 10 bye. Los Angeles used a similar hot stretch drive two seasons ago en route to the Super Bowl crown.

Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8)
Baker Mayfield directed a ragged 9-0 victory over the Panthers on Sunday that sent the Buccaneers home to welcome the Eagles in a wild-card matchup. Philadelphia won just once since Thanksgiving, going 1-5 to crumble down the stretch and surrender the NFC East division lead to the Cowboys. The Eagles are facing huge injury questions surrounding the health of QB Jalen Hurts (finger) and WR A.J. Brown (right knee) after both exited Sunday’s loss to the Giants. But can Mayfield pull off a Tom Brady impersonation?

Cleveland Browns (11-6) at Houston Texans (10-7)
Stroud quickly revived the atmosphere around the Texans with a stellar rookie season that saw Houston almost equal its victory total (11) of the past three seasons. Cleveland is thriving behind Flacco, a former Super Bowl MVP who is 4-1 as the starter. Pretty ironic that Houston is hosting the Browns in a playoff game and former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t on the field. The player infamous in Houston for sexually harassing massage therapists is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

–Field Level Media

Dec 25, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Baltimore Ravens linebacker Del'Shawn Phillips (53), safety Marcus Williams (32), and cornerback Daryl Worley (41) celebrate in the end zone after Williams intercepted a pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens, 49ers can land No. 1 playoff seeds in Week 17

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers each can clinch the top playoff seed in their respective conferences during NFL Week 17 play.

The Ravens can tie up the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. They can also clinch the AFC North title with a win or a tie on Sunday, or get a loss or a tie from the Cleveland Browns on Thursday against the New York Jets.

The 49ers can seal the top seed in the NFC with a victory Sunday against the Washington Commanders, while also getting losses from the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles. San Francisco already is the NFC West champion.

The Ravens earned a 33-19 road victory against the 49ers on Monday.

In the AFC, the Buffalo Bills need a win or a tie and a number of scenarios involving the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texas in order to clinch a playoff berth.

The Browns can land a playoff spot with a win or a tie. Cleveland can also make postseason plans with a Steelers loss or tie, a Jaguars loss or tie or a Bills loss. It also works in their favor if the Texans lose or tie combined with the Colts losing or drawing.

The Jaguars earn a playoff spot and the AFC South title with a win, combined with a Colts loss and a Texans loss.

The Kansas City Chiefs clinch a playoff spot and the AFC West title with a win or a tie. They also do the same with a Las Vegas Raiders loss or tie, combined with a Denver Broncos loss or tie.

The Dolphins clinch the AFC East with a win or a tie. They also land the honor with a Bills loss or tie.

The Ravens and Dolphins already have clinched a playoff spot in the AFC.

In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Seattle Seahawks loss. They also get back into the postseason with a win and a Packers-Vikings tie.

The Philadelphia Eagles will clinch the NFC East with a win along with a Dallas Cowboys loss or tie. They also win the NFC East with a tie plus a Cowboys loss.

The Seahawks clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Packers-Vikings tie. The Buccaneers land a playoff spot and the NFC South title with a win. Tampa also lands the NFC South title with a tie to go along with a Falcons loss.

The Lions, 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles already have clinched playoff spots in the NFC.

–Field Level Media

Dec 3, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (23) makes a catch against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

NFL playoff picture: 3 teams have chance to clinch in Week 14

With five games remaining in the regular season, three NFC teams have a chance to clinch an NFL playoff berth in Week 14.

But not more than two of them will.

That’s because the Dallas Cowboys (9-3) meet the visiting Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) on Sunday night, with the winner having a shot at gaining the playoff spot and the loser being forced to wait.

Among the two, the path to the playoffs is easiest for the Eagles, the defending NFC champion. They will clinch with a:

PHI win + SEA loss or tie OR
PHI win + LAR loss or tie OR
PHI win + GB loss or tie + MIN loss or tie OR
PHI win + GB loss or tie + DET loss OR
PHI tie + LAR loss + SEA loss OR
PHI tie + LAR loss + MIN loss or tie OR
PHI tie + LAR loss + GB loss or tie OR
PHI tie + SEA loss + MIN loss or tie OR
PHI tie + SEA loss + GB loss or tie OR
PHI tie + MIN loss + GB loss

For the Cowboys to clinch, they’ll need a:

DAL win + MIN loss or tie + GB loss or tie + SEA loss + TB loss or tie + DET win or tie + LAR loss or tie (as long as GB and MIN both don’t tie) OR
DAL win + MIN loss or tie + GB loss or tie + SEA loss + TB loss or tie + DET win or tie + NO loss or tie (as long as GB and MIN both don’t tie) OR
DAL win + MIN loss or tie + GB loss or tie + SEA loss + TB tie + DET win or tie (as long as GB and MIN both don’t tie)

The San Francisco 49ers (9-3) take on the Seattle Seahawks (6-6) on Sunday with the following scenarios in play for a playoff berth:

SF win + GB loss OR
SF win + MIN loss OR
SF win + GB tie + MIN tie

In Week 15, the Cowboys are at the Buffalo Bills, the 49ers meet the Cardinals in Arizona and the Seahawks host the Eagles.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; NBC Sunday Night Football broadcaster Mike Tirico reacts during the game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Peacock lands NFL’s first exclusive streamed playoff game

Peacock reached a one-year deal with the NFL to become the first streaming platform with exclusive rights to an NFL playoff game on Monday.

According to the league and NBCUniversal’s announcement, Peacock will carry a prime-time game in the wild-card round on Saturday, Jan. 13, immediately following a late-afternoon playoff game shown on NBC and Peacock. The cities of the two teams playing in the game will still have the game carried on NBC.

The deal was in the $110 million range, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“We are excited to work with a great partner in Peacock to present the first-ever exclusively live streamed NFL playoff game this upcoming season,” said Hans Schroeder, NFL Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NFL Media. “Expanding the digital distribution of NFL content while maintaining wide reach for our games continues to be a key priority for the League, and bringing the excitement of an NFL playoff game exclusively to Peacock’s streaming platform is the next step in that strategy.”

Peacock formerly had a free option; now subscriptions cost either $4.99 or $9.99 per month.

The platform will also have exclusive rights to one regular-season game for the first time, a Saturday night tilt in Week 16 between the Buffalo Bills and host Los Angeles Chargers.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Championship Sunday: 10 prop picks

Maybe you missed the window to take advantage of the teeter totter Bengals-Chiefs line this week or can’t get a firm grip on a favorite for the NFC Championship at Philadelphia between the Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.

Books are rolling out the red carpet with prop bet markets expanded to include peripheral stats and minutiae for both conference title games.

Here’s a look at 10 prop bets worth considering on Championship Sunday:

49ers QB Brocky Purdy Over 0.5 INTs (-140 at DraftKings): All three sportsbooks are offering the same prop, with the potential payout slightly better at DraftKings as of mid-day Saturday. Purdy hasn’t thrown a pick since Week 17 and has 59 pass attempts through his first two playoff games without committing a turnover. But the Eagles’ defense can bring pressure from any angle, with four players registering double-digit sacks. Purdy is still a rookie, and under pressure he has a tendency to spin out of the pocket and will force the occasional ball downfield – and Philly’s defense rarely lets opportunities slip away.

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey Anytime TD (-120 at BetMGM): This has been the most popular NFC prop at several sportsbooks. McCaffrey missed practice time with a calf injury this week but has vowed to play. When he plays, McCaffrey typically finds the end zone — including at least once in eight consecutive games entering Sunday.

49ers at Eagles Over 46.5 Total Points (-110 at BetRivers): It’s easy to lean Under given the strength of these two defenses. But that inclination hasn’t played out over the course of the season, with the sportsbook reporting these are two of only six teams to hit the Over in more than half of their games. Good defenses also create short fields, which create scoring opportunities. And both offenses have plenty of offensive firepower to take advantage.

Eagles WR A.J. Brown Over 68.5 Receiving Yards (-115 at BetMGM): The Giants didn’t do much right defensively last week other than hold Brown to 22 yards on a trio of catches. That has been the exception to the rule, with Brown topping 68.5 yards in the six games leading up to the Eagles’ playoff opener. He will draw a difficult matchup with Charvarius Ward likely tracking him most of the game, but Ward proved vulnerable to another big, physical wideout in Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf two weeks ago.

Eagles QB Jalen Hurts Anytime TD (+118 at BetRivers): This has been the second most popular NFC prop at the sportsbook, drawing 3.1 percent of the total tickets and the second most money. Hurts has six rushing touchdowns in his past five games, including one last weekend as the Eagles have increasingly relied on his legs with opponents also having to respect Philly’s ground game near the goal line.

Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster under 46.5 yards (-110, FanDuel): With only 11 targets in the past four games combined and two in the playoff win over the Jaguars last week (29 yards), Smith-Schuster might be due. But his breakout isn’t coming here. The Bengals clamped him the regular-season clash in December, when he caught three of four targets for 35 yards. Smith-Schuster has been limited to 38 yards or fewer seven times in the past nine games.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon over 58.5 rushing yards (-110, BetMGM): Only four NFL teams played more base nickel or dime defense than the Chiefs and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo isn’t the type to change his stripes. He’s the type to rip with the front four and vary coverage. The Chiefs could apply more pressure if the Bengals, who didn’t have three starters on the offensive line at Buffalo last week, show leaks in protection. Methodical drives and a heavy reliance on plowing ahead with Mixon – 105 rushing yards last week — worked in beating the Bills, and Mixon had 88 rushing yards at Kansas City in the 2021 AFC Championship. Noteworthy: Mixon’s rushing total at FanDuel and DraftKings was set at 59.5.

Chiefs WR Marques Vadles-Scantling alt receiving yards, 40-plus (+210 at FanDuel): He’s not a game plan name for the Bengals. And no matter how much noise Eli Apple makes, he’s not a lockdown cornerback. The Bengals allowed MVS 71 receiving yards in Week 13 meeting with the Cincinnati and Patrick Mahomes is looking his way more often, including a TD connection last week.

Bengals LB Germaine Pratt over 6.5 tackles (-120 at BetMGM): This number includes solo plus assisted tackles. Pratt’s total was bet up to -140 at other books, and this one is a soft guarantee. Soft because he had only four total tackles when the teams met Dec. 4. He had eight or more tackles in nine games this season and a physically limited Mahomes brings the chances of short and quick throws, where Pratt could be in on double-digit stops.

Chiefs PK Harrison Butker over 7.5 points (+105 at Caesars Sportsbook): Bend, don’t break. That’s the charge for Cincinnati against the Chiefs, a winning approach that resulted in back-to-back 27-24 wins for the Bengals. Butker missed a field goal in the December meeting that would’ve forced overtime – and given him nine total points for the game. With safeties deep and boundaries available, the Chiefs won’t have as many explosive plays – or points – but count on Kansas City consistently moving the ball into FG range.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) puts pressure on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott, Cowboys rout Buccaneers to end road playoff woes

Dak Prescott passed for four touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a dominating 31-14 victory over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night in the NFC wild-card round.

Prescott passed for 305 yards while guiding the fifth-seeded Cowboys to their first playoff road victory since prevailing 30-20 over the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 17, 1993 at Candlestick Park. Dallas broke an eight-game skid in that situation.

Ironically, the Cowboys will visit the second-seeded 49ers on Sunday in the divisional round.

Dalton Schultz caught seven passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb also had scoring receptions for the Cowboys. Tony Pollard rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries.

Tom Brady was 35-of-66 passing for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the fourth-seeded Buccaneers. Brady hasn’t yet committed to returning to Tampa Bay, playing for another team next season or retiring.

Julio Jones and Cameron Brate caught touchdown passes and Chris Godwin had 10 receptions for 85 yards for the Buccaneers.

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher set an NFL postseason record by missing four extra-point attempts. Maher missed three to the right and one to the left.

Dallas didn’t record a first down on either of its first two possessions but traveled 80 yards on seven plays during its third time with the ball. The Cowboys capped it when Prescott threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Schultz with 6:28 left in the opening quarter.

Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the score but Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Jayron Kearse on the second play of the second quarter.

Dallas responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed 8:38 off the clock. Prescott scored the touchdown while cruising to the left on a 1-yard run.

The Cowboys delivered an 11-play, 91-yard excursion later in the quarter. This time, Prescott hit Schultz on an 11-yard throw to make it 18-0 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Dallas continued its domination with another long drive in the third quarter. The Cowboys meandered 86 yards on eight plays with Prescott hitting Gallup on a 2-yard score. Maher’s fourth miss left the Dallas lead at 24.

Tampa Bay got on the board when Brady hit Jones with a 30-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed.

Due to Maher’s kicking problems, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy waved the kicking unit off on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter. Instead, Dallas went for it and Prescott hit a wide-open Lamb for an 18-yard score with 10:13 remaining.

Maher entered and kicked an extra point right down the middle.

–Field Level Media

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) looks to pass against Tennessee Titans defensive end DeMarcus Walker (95) during the second quarter of an NFL football regular season matchup AFC South division title game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jaguars held off the Tennessee Titans 20-16. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Jki 230106 Titans Jags Cp 115

QBs take center stage in Chargers, Jaguars wild-card showdown

One of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL will celebrate his playoff debut with a victory Saturday night when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC wild-card round.

Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars and Justin Herbert of the Chargers participate in their initial postseason games with the winner moving on to a bigger stage in the divisional playoffs next weekend.

The fourth-seeded Jaguars (9-8) barged their way into the playoffs with five consecutive wins to end the season, including a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans last Saturday night. The fifth-seeded Chargers (10-7) received a wild-card berth to make the field for the first time since 2018.

Nobody expected to see Jacksonville in the postseason after the team went a combined 4-29 over the previous two seasons — which included 13 disastrous games under former coach Urban Meyer in 2021 — and then lost six of their first eight games this season.

But Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the ’21 draft, made big strides while passing for 4,113 yards, 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions. And suddenly, the Jaguars are a hot club entering the postseason.

“We had to win a ton of games down the stretch,” Lawrence said. “We never lost faith or belief in ourselves. How we got here was just taking it one week at a time. To do what we’ve been able to do the past five games and give ourselves a chance, that’s really hard to do.”

Josh Allen’s go-ahead, 37-yard fumble return late in the fourth quarter represented the winning points against Tennessee during a contest in which Lawrence finished 20-for-32 passing for 212 yards and a touchdown.

The Jaguars only had 222 yards as a team, and were held to minus-1 in the final quarter but still got the clinching victory.

“You just find a way to win whatever it takes this time of year,” Lawrence said. “Games are going to be tight. Games are going to be close. You just have to find a way to win.”

Jacksonville is part of the postseason for just the second time in the past 15 campaigns and coach Doug Pederson is ready to see how Lawrence fares under the playoff spotlight.

“Now, Trevor gets his opportunity,” Pederson said. “It just goes to show how important that position is, as we know. We’re just fortunate and blessed to have Trevor as our guy leading this football team. Last week was a step for him, obviously. Now this is another step in that direction.”

The Chargers are hoping it is Herbert who takes that huge step forward.

Herbert, the sixth overall selection in 2020, passed for 4,739 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his third straight solid campaign. He’s also looking to make some noise in the postseason.

“I’m excited for the opportunity of just being in the playoffs and getting a shot at whoever,” Herbert said. “The Jags, we have a lot of respect for them as an opponent, and it’s going to take a good week of practice and preparation.”

Chargers coach Brandon Staley expects Herbert to put on a show.

“He has always played his best when the stage is the biggest,” Staley said. “That is how his career has been in the NFL. In primetime, the big games he has had for the first three years, he has always risen to the occasion because that is the type of competitor that he is.”

The Chargers were bouncing up and down with a 6-6 mark before reeling off four straight wins to punch their playoff ticket. They lost 31-28 to the Denver Broncos in their regular-season finale on Sunday after having already secured a wild-card spot.

In Week 3, the Jaguars routed the host Chargers 38-10 with Lawrence passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert threw for 297 yards, one touchdown and one pick.

Staley said that the contest from late September has nothing to do with Saturday’s game.

“They are a different team,” Staley said. “They have been through a lot since the game we played them. … We have a lot of respect for this football team.”

Chargers receiver Mike Williams (back) was injured against Denver and underwent an MRI exam. His injury was determined to be a bruise and he missed Tuesday’s walkthrough but Los Angeles expects him to be available for the game. Star pass rusher Joey Bosa (groin) also is expected to play.

For Jacksonville, kicker Riley Patterson (knee) and long snapper Ross Matiscik (back) both missed Tuesday’s practice.

–Field Level Media

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Buffalo Bills wide receiver Khalil Shakir (10) celebrates with wide receiver Gabe Davis (13) after scoring a successful two-point try in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Buffalo defeated Chicago 35-13. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

NFL playoff update: Bills clinch AFC East, Ravens punch ticket

Locked in a dogfight with Kansas City for the top overall seed in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills clinched their third straight AFC East title on Saturday while keeping pace with Chiefs for that coveted first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Bills overcame below-freezing temperatures and a 10-6 halftime deficit to overwhelm host Chicago and beat the Bears 35-13 during Saturday’s first set of games. With Kansas City beating visiting Seattle 24-10, the Bills and Chiefs enter the season’s penultimate weekend with 12-3 records.

The Bills beat the Chiefs 24-20 in Week 6, meaning Buffalo gets the No. 1 seed should the teams end the season tied atop the conference.

The race for the top seed isn’t a two-team affair, however, as a pair of AFC North teams are lurking in the shadows. Two days after Cincinnati clinched a playoff spot with the New York Jets’ loss to Jacksonville on Thursday night, the Bengals helped divisional-rival Baltimore get into the postseason.

The Ravens needed a win (accomplished with a 17-9 victory over visiting Atlanta) and a Bengals victory in New England to get into the playoffs. After seeing much of its 22-0 halftime lead evaporate, Cincinnati forced a late turnover then held on for a 22-18 win.

The Ravens (10-5) also remained a game behind the Bengals (11-4) in the race for the division crown. Baltimore visits Cincinnati in Week 18.

It was a different story in the NFC, as the two teams with the most to gain with wins instead fell agonizingly short.

In what was perhaps the day’s headlining game, Philadelphia took the NFL’s best record into Dallas, but did so without injured quarterback and MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, starting Gardner Minshew in his place.

For Philadelphia, a win would have clinched not only the NFC East, but also the conference’s No. 1 overall seed. After the Eagles jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead, the Cowboys fought back to go up early in the second quarter and the game remained tight the rest of the way.

But a pair of Brett Maher field goals in the game’s final 2:19 gave the Cowboys the game’s final six points and ended up being the difference in a 40-34 Dallas win.

Another NFC East team that couldn’t take advantage of good fortune was the New York Giants.

Coming into Saturday’s game just 2-4-1 in their last seven games after a 6-1 start to the season, the Giants needed a win and then two of three teams — Washington, Detroit and Seattle — to lose. The good fortune came in the way of losses by all three teams, but New York failed to do its part, losing on a walk-off, 61-yard field goal in Minneapolis.

–Field Level Media

Jan 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (89) is upended by the San Francisco 49ers in the first half during the NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams TE Tyler Higbee (knee) out of NFC title game

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee sustained a knee injury and was later ruled out of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Higbee was injured in the first quarter and limped off the field. The Rams ruled him out early in the third quarter.

The 29-year-old Higbee caught two passes for 18 yards before exiting. He has nine catches for 115 yards in three games this postseason.

Higbee caught 61 passes for 560 yards and matched his career high of five touchdowns in 15 regular-season games. The receptions and yardage were the second most of his six-year career, all with the Rams.

–Field Level Media