2014 NFL Playoff schedule and bracket: A look at the upcoming divisional round

Ezra Shaw

The Saints, Colts, Chargers and 49ers punched their ticket into the divisional round of the NFL playoffs. We take a look at the bracket and schedule.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

The wild card round of the 2014 NFL playoffs wrapped up on Sunday, as the San Diego Chargers took down the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers held on to best the Green Bay Packers. Now there are eight teams left in the fold, with the divisional round right around the corner.

Those games will begin on Saturday, Jan. 11 and wrap up on Sunday. We'll take a look at each game and, of course, how you can watch them below. Be sure to check out SB Nation's bracket and playoffs hub here. You can also find a bracket at the bottom of this post.

(Click to enlarge and for SB Nation's NFL postseason coverage)


NFC Game 3

(1) Seattle Seahawks vs. (6) New Orleans Saints

Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 4:35 p.m. ET

New Orleans overcame some pretty hefty baggage on Saturday with its win over the Philadelphia Eagles. All five of the Saints' losses this season came on the road, against just three wins. Drew Brees has been called a "dome quarterback," given that he tends to struggle more away from the Superdome. But in the cold of Philadelphia, the Saints managed to eliminate the No. 3-seeded Eagles to punch their ticket to Seattle.

Unfortunately, the home-field advantage is very, very real in Seattle. The Seahawks lost at home just once this season, and CenturyLink Field is regarded as one of the most hostile environments to play in the NFL. The Saints will be the underdogs in this game, but they have the firepower to beat any team on any turf.

AFC Game 3

(2) New England Patriots vs. (4) Indianapolis Colts

Date: Jan. 11
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. ET

This game was very close to being a matchup between the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Colts pulled off an improbable comeback in the wild card round to advance. Indianapolis was losing by 28 points, but rebounded with 35 points in the second half to down the Chiefs, 45-44.

Andrew Luck has been less than perfect of late, but he's been coming through in the clutch. Unfortunately for the Colts, the Patriots are led by Tom Brady, who is no stranger to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. New England is 12-4 on the season, and fell just short of earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC this year. The Patriots did not lose a game at home this season.

NFC Game 4

(2) Carolina Panthers vs. (5) San Francisco 49ers

Date: Jan. 12
Kickoff: 1:05 p.m. ET

The 49ers did what they had to do to earn the top seed in the NFC, but things didn't work out with the Seahawks and the Panthers, so they fell to No. 5. Accordingly, they had to travel to take on the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers in the wild card round and the game was incredibly close. In the end, Colin Kaepernick used his rushing ability to eliminate the Packers once again, with the help of a game-winning field goal from Phil Dawson.

The Panthers have a leg-up on the 49ers though: they've already beat them once this season. The Panthers traveled to San Francisco and beat the 49ers in a defensive showdown, 10-9. This time, the Panthers will be at home, where they only lost one game this season. Still, the playoffs are a different beast, and the 49ers' offense is playing much better now than they were in Week 10.

AFC Game 4

(1) Denver Broncos vs. (6) San Diego Chargers

Date: Jan. 12
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. ET

San Diego needed so many things to go right to make it into the playoffs. The Chargers' playoff destinies were well out of their hands, but they won their game and everything else fell into place. Then in the wild card round, they shocked the Cincinnati Bengals with a dominating 27-10 win. San Diego's defense managed to pick off Andy Dalton three times in the win.

But the Denver Broncos are a much different beast. Peyton Manning doesn't throw interceptions the same way Dalton does. What the Chargers have going for them, though, is the fact that they already won at Mile High in Week 15, as part of a four-game winning streak that helped them into the playoffs.

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