After a crazy ending to the 2019 regular season, the NFL playoffs are finally here, and one thing you’ll immediately notice about this year’s postseason schedule is that for the for the first time in 10 years, the New England Patriots will be playing on Wild Card Weekend.
That’s right, after nine straight seasons of landing a first-round bye, that streak finally game to an end this year. If the Patriots are going to defend their Super Bowl title, they’re going to have to do it by winning four games in the same postseason, something they’ve never done under Bill Belichick. Since Belichick was hired in 2000, the Patriots have played in the wild-card round a total of three times (2005, 2006, 2009), and not only did they fail to reach the Super Bowl in each of those seasons, but they didn’t even make it to the game a single time.
The Patriots had a chance to clinch a first-round bye with a win over the Dolphins in Week 17, but Miami pulled off the stunning upset, which dropped New England to the No. 3 overall seed. The loss means the Patriots will be opening postseason play on Saturday night in a home game against the Titans. If the Patriots win that game, they would then have to travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs in the divisional round.
As for the rest of the NFL, the first game of this year’s postseason will kick off on Saturday afternoon in Houston with the Bills playing the Texans. The NFC playoffs will get underway on Sunday with the Saints hosting the Vikings.
The Ravens, Chiefs, Packers and 49ers all earned a bye through the wild-card round, which means you won’t be seeing them on the field this week. The Packers will have the longest break of anyone, and that’s because they’ll be hosting the final game of the divisional round on Jan. 12.
Here’s the entire playoff schedule from the wild-card round to the Super Bowl.
Wild Card Weekend
Saturday, Jan. 4
No. 5 Bills at No. 4 Texans, 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
No. 6 Titans at No. 3 Patriots, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Saturday, Jan. 11
Vikings/Seahawks/Eagles at No. 1 49ers, 4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
Titans/Bills/Texans at No. 1 Ravens, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 12
Bills/Texans/Patriots at No. 2 Chiefs, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Seahawks/Eagles/Saints at No. 2 Packers, 6:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Sunday, Jan. 19
AFC Championship, 3:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
NFC Championship, 6:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Super Bowl LIV
Sunday, Feb. 2
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, 6:30 p.m. ET (Fox)