NFL publicizes Sunday schedule for the primary spherical of the playoffs

Three years ago the Cleveland Browns went 0-16. They went 1-31 over a two-season stretch. They’d been stuck on a playoff appearance since returning to the NFL in 1999, and that was 18 years ago.

The Browns’ return to the playoffs will be one of the highlights of a great weekend in playoff football. This is the first year of the expanded playoff field in the NFL, and that means two more games than normal. These games include Cleveland’s first playoff game since 2002, which takes place on Sunday primetime.

Here is the Sunday schedule for the three games of the wildcard weekend (the Saturday schedule is here):

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at No. 4 Tennessee Titans (11-5), 1:05 p.m. ABC / ESPN

The AFC South picked up the wire and the Titans claimed the division title in a week 17 win against the Houston Texans. This is a playoff rematch from last season when the Titans went to Baltimore and pissed off the ravens with the best seeds. The Ravens ended the season on a throw, winning their last five games to reach the playoffs. They had a staggering 404 rushing yards in a week 17 win against the Bengals who had secured a spot in the playoffs, including 97 rushing yards from reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history to have consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

It took the Titans every second of the 2020 season to claim a division title. A 52-yard pass from Ryan Tannehill to AJ Brown in the final seconds resulted in a field goal by Sam Sloman, which ricocheted off the right post, defeating the Houston Texans 41-38.

# 7 Chicago Bears (8-8) at # 2 New Orleans Saints (12-4), 4:40 p.m. CBS / Nickelodeon / Amazon Prime

The Bears withdrew to the playoffs, but they got on. The Bears lost to the Packers 35-16 in Week 17, but a loss to the Arizona Cardinals pushed the Bears through the back door into the postseason. The Bears are only the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs after losing five. The others who made it were the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals and 2014 Carolina Panthers, who lost five in a row but won NFC South 7-8-1.

The story goes on

The Saints were banned from saying goodbye despite a great record for the second straight season. Last season, the Saints were number 3 in the NFC despite a 13-3 record, losing their first playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings. That season, the Saints won in week 17 but got no help and will have to put the number 2 in the first season of the NFL’s extended playoffs.

No. 6 Cleveland Browns (11-5) at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), 8:15 p.m. NBC

The Browns are back in the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, against the team they have faced in their only other playoff appearance since returning to the NFL in 1999.

In Week 17, the Browns beat the Steelers, who were resting as starters, and that resulted in a rematch on the wildcard weekend. The Steelers hung hard, losing 24-22 with Ben Roethlisberger, TJ Watt and a few others. Pittsburgh started 11-0 before losing four of their last five. The last time the Browns were in the playoffs, they took the lead and lost 36-33 to the Steelers in a wildcard game at the end of the 2002 season. The last time the Browns made the playoffs, current quarterback Baker Mayfield was 7 years old.

Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield celebrates a win over the Steelers, who have secured a place in the playoffs. (Photo by Jason Miller / Getty Images)

BYES – AFC No. 1 seeds: Kansas City Chiefs (14-2), NFC No. 1 seeds: Green Bay Packers (13-3)

The Chiefs rested the starters in week 17 with the top seed already locked up. The Packers had to win in Week 17 and retired from the Bears late for a 35-16 win.

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