Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Pittsburgh clinched division titles Sunday, while Green Bay grabbed the final wild-card berth.
The Seahawks, at 7-9, became the first division winner with a losing record in NFL history when they defeated St. Louis 16-6 for the NFC West championship.
“We didn’t get here the way we all dreamed of getting here, but we got here,” first-year coach Pete Carroll said. “When it came down to it, the guys played a great football game tonight.”
The Packers beat archrival Chicago 10-3 to secure the NFC’s sixth seed; defending league champion New Orleans has the conference’s other wild card.
A last-second 43-yard field goal by the always-clutch Adam Vinatieri lifted the AFC South champion Colts past Tennessee 23-20.
Indy was already assured of its seventh division crown in eight years when the Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Houston Texans minutes earlier. It’s the ninth straight year the Colts have reached the postseason, tying the NFL record Dallas set from 1975-83.
So Indianapolis (10-6) hosts the New York Jets (11-5) in a rematch of last January’s AFC championship game on Saturday night. Before that, the Saints (12-4) are at Seattle.
On Sunday, NFC East champion Philadelphia (10-6) hosts Green Bay (10-6) after AFC West winner Kansas City (10-6) is at home against Baltimore (12-4).
Atlanta (13-3) won the NFC South with a 31-10 rout of Carolina. The Falcons get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and a bye next week. They open their postseason the weekend of Jan. 15-16 at the Georgia Dome.
“It’s very important,” top receiver Roddy White said. “We rarely lose in this building. We find a way to win here.”
Indeed, the Falcons are 20-2 at home with quarterback Matt Ryan as a starter.
The Steelers (12-4) took the AFC North with a 41-9 romp at Cleveland (5-11). They edged Baltimore in the division, making the Ravens a wild card. Pittsburgh is the No. 2 seed behind New England in the AFC and will have a bye next weekend.
New England already owned the top seed in the AFC and beat Miami 38-7 to finish 14-2, the league’s best record. The Patriots won their last eight games.
Also in the playoffs from the NFC is Chicago (11-5), which owns the North title and the conference’s other bye. Green Bay finished second in the division and got the final wild card on tiebreakers over Tampa Bay and the New York Giants, a pair of 10-6 teams that didn’t qualify. The last time that happened in the NFC was 1991.
The divisional round lineup will have Pittsburgh at home Saturday afternoon, Jan. 15, followed by Atlanta hosting a night game. On Jan. 16, Chicago hosts the early game, followed by a game at New England.