2014 NFL playoff schedule and bracket: Wild Card, Divisional matchups released

Michael Hickey

The NFL announced the game times for the wild card and divisional rounds of the 2014 NFL playoffs.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

Update: The Eagles topped the Cowboys to win the NFC East and the third seed in the NFC playoffs.

Week 17 is just about over, and the NFL playoffs are almost upon us. We know every team that's to be included, save for the final spot in the NFC, which is currently being contested between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. During halftime of that Sunday Night Football matchup, the NFL went ahead and announced the matchups and times for the wild card and divisional rounds.

The seeding is already set, regardless of which team wins the NFC East. That's because the Green Bay Packers, winners of the NFC North, have an 8-7-1 record, meaning both Dallas and Philadelphia would earn the nod over them for the No. 3 seed.

All four teams earning bye weeks are locked in to their spots: the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots in the AFC, and the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers in the NFC. They'll sit back and await their opponents for the Divisional Round while the other eight teams battle it out for the opportunity to visit hostile territory in the second round.

Here's the schedule the NFL announced at halftime (all times Eastern):

Wild Card Playoffs

AFC Game 1

(4) Indianapolis Colts vs. (5) Kansas City Chiefs
Date: Jan. 4
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m.
TV: NBC

Kansas City took the NFL by storm after remaining undefeated through the first half the season. They looked beatable down the stretch, however, and lost control of a potential top seed when they couldn't keep up with the aforementioned Broncos. The Colts didn't look quite as solid throughout the season, but at the end of the day, they're both 11-5 and this should be a good one.

AFC Game 2

(3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (6) San Diego Chargers
Date: Jan. 5
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.
TV: CBS

The San Diego Chargers defied the odds to make it into the playoffs. They played a Kansas City Chiefs team that almost won with its backups in for most of the game, but eventually won to make the playoffs at 9-7. The Bengals started sloppy against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, but ultimately won by a healthy margin -- which allowed the Chargers into the playoffs, as it happens.

NFC Game 1

(3) Philadelphia Eagles OR Dallas Cowboys vs. (6) New Orleans Saints
Date: Jan. 4
Kickoff: 8:10 p.m.
TV: NBC

This game is still ongoing, but whatever the case, the Saints will travel to either Philadelphia or Dallas for the wild card round. That's significant, given that Drew Brees and the Saints are not the same team on the road as they are at the Superdome. Then again, neither the Eagles nor the Cowboys inspire a whole lot of confidence at this point.

NFC Game 2

(4) Green Bay Packers vs. (5) San Francisco 49ers
Date: Jan. 5
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m.
TV: Fox

The St. Louis Rams couldn't come through for the 49ers on Sunday, so they weren't able to lock in the NFC West and home-field advantage over the Packers. Instead, the 12-4 49ers will travel to take on the 8-7-1 Packers in what should be a freezing game at Lambeau Field.

Divisional Playoffs

AFC Game 3

(2) New England Patriots vs. Highest Seed
Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.
TV: CBS

The Patriots may have struggled to start the season, but they locked things up as they got healthy on offense, and Tom Brady looks just fine. Somebody once said you should never count him out. The Patriots will host the highest remaining seed from the wild card round.

AFC Game 4

(1) Denver Broncos vs. Lowest Seed
Date: Jan. 12
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m.
TV: CBS

Denver rested its starters in the second half against the Oakland Raiders in Week 17, and Peyton Manning wants to add a Super Bowl ring on top of the ridiculous amount of records he set this season. The Broncos will host the lowest remaining seed in this game.

NFC Game 3

(1) Seattle Seahawks vs. Lowest Seed
Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m.
TV: Fox

Playing in Seattle is the toughest thing any team can do at this point. They faltered there once this season, but it happening in the playoffs seems highly unlikely. They'll host the lowest remaining seed from the wild card round.

NFC Game 4

(2) Carolina Panthers vs. Highest Seed
Date: Jan. 12
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.
TV: Fox

The Panthers fought the Saints hard near the end of the season and ultimately took the NFC South. They're not unbeatable, but that defense has been scary good, and as the host in the playoffs, they're plenty intimidating. They'll host the highest remaining seed from the wild card round.

Conference Championships

AFC: Divisional Winner 1 vs. Divisional Winner 2
Date: Jan 19
Kickoff: TBD

None of the teams in the AFC bracket have what is considered a typically strong home-field advantage like the Seahawks seem to have in the NFC, so this could end up looking a number of ways.

NFC: Divisional Winner 1 vs. Divisional Winner 2
Date: Jan 19
Kickoff: TBD

If this game is played in Seattle, it's going to be a tough prospect for whatever team is playing opposite. You can bet the Seahawks will be favored by a healthy margin for this one, based on home-field advantage alone. Then again, they have lost this season, so anything is possible.

Super Bowl XLVIII

AFC Championship Winner vs. NFC Championship Winner
Date: Feb. 2
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox

The Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The game will be televised by Fox with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman handling the broadcast. Bruno Mars will provide the halftime entertainment.

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