NFL playoffs schedule 2017: Times, TV schedule for AFC, NFC championship games

The NFL season is reaching its climax with the conference championship games this weekend. When the day is over, we’ll know which two teams will fight to lift the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 51. These games figure to be well-contested battles between some of the best quarterbacks in the league.
The first game of the day promises to be a complete fireworks show. The Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons both sport high-flying offenses and weak defenses, led by MVP candidate quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan) at the top of their games.
Rodgers has been on fire, leading the Packers back from the brink at 4-6 to clinch the NFC North title. The Packers then ran through the NFC East contenders, destroying the New York Giants in the Wild Card round then stunning the Dallas Cowboys one week later. Rodgers played literal backyard football in crunch time, drawing up a play on the fly and hitting Jared Cook with an incredible sideline pass to set up the game-winning field goal.
The Falcons are back in the playoffs thanks to a brilliant season from Ryan, who set career highs in passing yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38) while leading the league in passer rating (117.1). He made it look easy against the Seattle Seahawks in a 36-20 win last week, and Ryan should keep his rhythm going against a Packers defense that’s struggled with injuries all year. This could easily be the highest-scoring game of the playoffs.
How to watch Packers vs. Falcons in NFC Championship
Time: 3:05 p.m. ET
Place: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers
Online: Fox Sports Go

The second game on Sunday’s schedule features a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, with Tom Brady set to face off against Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are red-hot, having won seven straight games to close out the regular season.
They had little trouble putting away the Miami Dolphins in the Wild Card round, and despite failing to score a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, the defense stepped up big in an 18-16 win in the Divisional round.

Le’Veon Bell is carrying the offense on his shoulders, rushing for a combined 337 yards in the playoffs. Roethlisberger hasn’t been totally sharp, but with Bell and Antonio Brown terrorizing opposing defenses, he hasn’t had to play his best.
The Patriots cruised to another AFC East title and are in the conference championship game for the sixth year in a row. That’s the standard of excellence we’ve come to expect from Brady and Bill Belichick, who are looking for their seventh Super Bowl appearance together.
Brady had a rough time with the Houston Texans in the Divisional round, but three touchdowns by Dion Lewis was more than enough to send Houston home.
How to watch Steelers vs. Patriots in AFC Championship

Time: 6:40 p.m. ET

Place: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely

Online: CBS All-Access


How the Pittsburgh Steelers can go all the way and win Super Bowl 51 in Houston 

Today I  look at the reasons why Pittsburgh can beat New England and go on to add to their record six Super Bowl titles.

There are two mouthwatering championship games this weekend and any of the four teams can lay legitimate claim to being the favourites to claim the Super Bowl in just over a fortnight.

You can see all the action from 7.30pm on Sky Sports 1 on Sunday with the second of of the live games seeing the New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers as an age-old rivalry is renewed in the AFC Championship game.

Both teams are bidding for a place in their ninth Super Bowl which would be a record and the Steelers head to Gillette Stadium having won their last nine games but knowing they have won just three of the last 13 meetings between the teams – including two AFC Championship matches.

However, here we set out our reasons why Pittsburgh can emerge victorious in Foxborough and remain on track for Super Bowl number seven.
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers

The Three Bs

A look at the battle of the running backs ahead of Sunday’s AFC Conference Championship match between Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots
I have said five reasons and we could cheat and list the following names on their own – they are that good!

But Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are heading the same way as the legendary Steel Curtain, the Pittsburgh defence of the 1970s.
To join that Pittsburgh pantheon, the three Bs will need to add silverware to the numbers that will ensure Bill Belichick and the Patriots will be well aware of the threat posed.
The hottest of them all is Bell, who has almost 1,500 scrimmage yards across the Steelers last eight games.
Running back Bell is in sensational form heading to New England
Running back Bell is in sensational form heading to New England

The running-back missed the first three games of the season but is in spectacular form and if, or rather when, he gains more than six yards on Sunday, he will set a franchise record for most post-season rushing yards.

125 yards in the game will take Bell into the all-time top five for an NFL post-season and it’s possible he has 337 yards from his games against the Dolphins and the Chiefs but the third-ranked run defence of the Patriots will be a stiffer test
Roethlisberger is a two-time Super Bowl champion and an almost certain future Hall of Famer. A third ring would see him join Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Troy Aikmen as a winner of three or more Super Bowls.
Running back Bell is in sensational form heading to New England
Running back Bell is in sensational form heading to New England

Time may be running out for Big Ben who has had his injury problems but on his day he is can be the best in his position.

The best in his position is a title that has been bandied around for Brown, and the wide-out owes his team one having been forced to apologise for a storm in a Facebook Live style tea-cup.
Only Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald was targeted more in the regular season while only Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson had more touchdowns from the WR position. In the post-season, he already has two TDs and 232 yards, Brown is a threat and a big-game player who delivers.
For the Steelers to see off the Patriots, all three will have to be on their game and the good news for Pittsburgh fans is they rarely disappoint.

Falcons’ road to Super Bowl is  not easy at all but this is game they can win against Green Bay.

Of course it’s Green Bay. It had to be Green Bay. It had to be the team that crushed the Falcons’ dreams in the Georgia Dome six years ago and the quarterback who has spent a good part of his career dismantling defenses, particularly the local one.
It had to be a matchup made in video football and pyrotechnic heaven: Matt Ryan vs. Aaron Rodgers.

Dallas was the NFC’s No. 1 seed going into these playoffs, but it figured the road to the Super Bowl would go through Green Bay, figuratively, even if not literally.
The Falcons wanted another home game. Maybe they didn’t necessarily want Rodgers and the Packers but it was a package deal. Green Bay’s dramatic 34-31 win in Dallas Sunday night means the Packers will come to Atlanta for the NFC championship game next week.


Before you slap your forehead and lapse into 2010 playoff flashbacks, consider something: The Falcons have a good chance to win this game. There may be no hotter team in the NFL right now than Green Bay, which has won eight in a row since four straight losses dropped the team to 4-6 in November. And there may be no hotter quarterback than Rodgers, who despite throwing an interception — aaaaaagggghhh!!! — has 21 touchdown passes and only one pick during the winning streak. (And, OK, the Packers lead the Falcons in NFL championships 13-0.)

But even with all of that, the Falcons have opened as a 5 1/2-point favorite in some sports books.
Why? Because as good as the Rodgers and the Packers’ offense is, the Falcons’ offense is better. As shaky as you might believe the Falcons’ defense is, the Green Bay defense is worse. And the game is in Atlanta, far more comfortable surroundings than “Jerry World” in Dallas.
Could there be a better finale for the Georgia Dome?

Following Saturday’s 36-20 playoff win over Seattle, Falcons coach Dan Quinn was asked whether he preferred the Packers or Cowboys as his team’s next opponent. He gave the safest and most logical response, picking a venue, not an opponent.
“I think for our fans … to have that opportunity to come back here one last time, I think that would be something that we would all look forward to,” he said. “Past that, the coaching side of me and the match-ups, I’ll have to go in and find that out.”
Much has changed since 2010, but the divisional playoff game will be a topic of discussion this week. The Falcons finished 13-3 and entered the playoffs as a No. 1 seed while the Packers went 10-6 and entered as a wild card. But Ryan threw two interceptions, including a pick-6 to Tramon Williams just before halftime, and Rodger threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay rolled 48-21 and went on to win the Super Bowl.
The teams met this season, with Ryan throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu in the final minute to rally the Falcons to a 33-32 win in the Dome. Ryan and Rodgers took turns being great: Ryan threw for 288 yards with three touchdowns and a 129.5 rating. Rodgers threw for 246 yards and four touchdowns with a 125.5 rating.

In five regular season meetings against the Falcons, the Rodgers has 13 touchdown passes and one interception with a 118 rating. But Atlanta won three of those games.

See? It can be done.
But not easily.
Falcons coaches started watching film Sunday. It was easy to wonder when Green Bay’s offense drove 245 yards and scored touchdowns on its first three possessions to take a 21-3 lead whether Quinn told his assistants, “Turn off the Dallas tape.”
A play would break down but Rodgers would complete a pass. Dallas would mount a pass rush but Rodgers would complete a pass. Everybody receiver was covered and Rodgers would be running for his life … yet, somehow, Rodgers would complete a pass. And the first three times Green Bay had the ball, the drive ended in the same place: the end zone.
Then, mortality happened.
The Packers were forced to punt. Twice. On three-and-outs. Dallas got the ball but Prescott threw an interception. Then Rodgers threw an interception for the first time after 318 attempts.
This must’ve been what it looked like when Pompeii went down.
Prescott, not looking like a rookie, brought the Cowboys back with touchdown passes to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant and a run out of the shotgun for a two-point conversion to tie it 28-28 with 2:35 left.
Then came the field goal drama: Mason Crosby hit from 56 yards to give the Packers a 31-28 lead with 1:33 left. Prescott drove the Cowboys into position, setting up Dan Bailey for a 52-yarder to tie with 35 seconds remaining. But Rodgers brought the Packers back again, completing a seemingly impossible 36-yard pass to Jared Cook, who kept his feet in bounds at the Dallas 32.
As time ticked to 0:00, Crosby hit from 51 yards to win it — twice. The first was nullified by a Dallas timeout. So effectively, Crosby was good from 158 yards on three fourth-quarter kicks.
The road to the Super Bowl isn’t an easy one for the Falcons. But this road only seems right.

‘I’m Not On SnapFace’: Belichick Dismisses Comments In Antonio Brown Live Video

PITTSBURGH  — New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is dismissing comments made in a controversal Facebook live video posted by Antonio Brown after the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday.
Sports writer Ryan Hannable tweeted Monday that Belichick made light of the video, saying: “…I’m not on SnapFace and all those… I’m not too worried what they put on InstantChat.”
Belichick on Steelers video: “As you know I’m not on SnapFace and all those… I’m not too worried what they put on these social media platforms 

In the video Brown posted, coach Tomlin can be heard giving address to the team about the Patriots, and he’s not happy his team had to give the (expletive) Patriots an extra day of preparation.

“Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations,” Tomlin said in the video. “We spotted those [expletive] a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the [expletive] morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming … Keep a low profile.”
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared on a Boston area radio station to address the issue.

He told WEEI, “I don’t think that would go over well with our coach.”
Brady also said what’s done in the locker room, should stay in the locker room.

Steelers v Chiefs!! Pittsburgh holds off Kansas City with all FIeld goals for 18-16 stalemate win.

Despite not making it into the end zone a single time, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in divisional play by a final score of 18-16.
Special teams efforts ended up being key for the Steelers. It was clear early in the game that Pittsburgh was well-prepared for Kansas City’s dynamic return man, Tyreek Hill. The Steelers swarmed him on every return, trying to limit the productivity of a player who scored three return touchdowns during the regular season.
That wasn’t the end of the special teams heroics from the Steelers. Kicker Chris Boswell scored all of Pittsburgh’s points, knocking six field goals through the uprights. The sixth, which came in the fourth quarter, broke the single-game postseason record of five, which had been accomplished 11 times in NFL history.
Not surprisingly, both defenses were also a factor. With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown on Pittsburgh’s roster, that’s no small feat for the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier intercepted his fourth pass in as many weeks, thanks to some pressure his teammate Bud Dupree put on Alex Smith.
Not to be outdone, the Chiefs answered with an interception of their own. Linebacker Frank Zombo tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass high into the air, giving safety Eric Berry a shot at a diving interception in the end zone for a touchback.

Despite the fact that the Chiefs’ defense kept the Steelers out of the end zone, Bell was extraordinary. He had 170 rushing yards and looked impossible to stop. Brown finished the game with 108 yards. Still, the Chiefs’ defense kept both players, and the rest of the Steelers’ offense, out of the end zone.
The Chiefs were trailing 18-10 well into the fourth quarter, and they very nearly tied it up with just over two minutes remaining. After a one-yard touchdown run by Spencer Ware to narrow Pittsburgh’s lead to 18-16, the Chiefs successfully attempted a two-point conversion on an Alex Smith pass to Demetrius Harris.

The only problem was an egregious hold by Kansas City’s Eric Fisher that negated the attempt and pushed the Chiefs back to the 12-yard line.
Smith’s second two-point attempt to Jeremy Maclin was broken up, and the Chiefs trailed 18-16.
The Steelers were able to take possession, and after getting a first down on a seven-yard pass to Brown, Pittsburgh kneeled it out for the 18-16 win.
With this loss, the Chiefs become the sixth team in NFL history to hold an opponent to just field goals for an entire postseason game but still suffer a defeat.
Pittsburgh will face off against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Tom Coughlin back at the Jaguars is undoubtedly the spoon full of sugar that helps this unsexy medicine go down

Yesterday was a big day for those of us who like to Jag Off. The Jaguars brought Tom Coughlin in as the Vice President of Football Operations, Doug Marrone as the Head Coach, and announced that they would be keeping most of the coaching staff in place.
Let’s get into the weeds a little bit. I think that Doug Marrone is a better head coach than Buffalo fans would have you believe. I mean, he went 6-10 his first year in Buffalo and then 9-7 with EJ Manual and Kyle Orton. Kyle Orton retired and Doug obviously didn’t want to be saddled with a guy like EJ Manual as his quarterback. Marrone didn’t want to draft EJ; the Bills brass drafted Manual any way in a pick that was wildly criticized at the time. So, instead of being saddled with EJ, Doug Marrone walked away, pocketed 4 million dollars, and become an offensive line coach for 2 years. The best look? Not by a long shot so I get why Bills fans hate him.
After the nearly four years of the patty cake bullshit that was Gus Bradley’s coaching, the Jaguars needed a mentality reset. Moving from rainbows and sunshine in the face of 8 game losing streaks, to gray walls and expected victories is what the Jaguars needed. That’s what bringing in Tom Coughlin and putting Doug Marrone in charge does. It might not work, but it’s certainly the reset that the team needs.

I don’t mind keeping Marrone and the rest of the offensive staff. I do think that keeping the defensive staff in place is a terrible idea. Statistically, the Jaguars defense was better than the offense by a wide margin this year. The team has young stars on the roster like Jalen Ramsey and Telvin Smith, both of whom spoke out against the scheme and coaching staff and were vocal about wanting a change in defensive scheme.

Keeping the entire staff doesn’t seem like a complete, complete flip, so it will be interesting to see how the players respond.

Tom Coughlin is undoubtedly the spoon full of sugar that helps this unsexy medicine go down. I was all set for one of the “hot coaching candidates.” I was ready for Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels, or Matt Patricia. I got Doug Marrone which was pretty blah at first, but then I started to remember the good things that happened while Tom Coughlin was in Jacksonville and that helped a bit.

San Diego set to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season’

The Chargers have reportedly notified NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the owners of other teams, of their intent to move to Los Angeles for the 2017 season.ESPN reported that nothing was final. 
San Diego would become a tenant in the stadium being built in Inglewood for the Rams if the Chargers exercise that option. 
If not, the Oakland Raiders would have the option to join the Rams in the LA area, though Raiders owner Mark Davis has indicated his intention to seek a move to Las Vegas.

The Chargers would have to find a temporary home in Los Angeles, either the Coliseum or the 27,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson.
The NFL’s stadium and finance committees met Wednesday for about 3 hours to discuss relocation of the Chargers and Raiders. 
The fact-finding meetings mostly centered on the Raiders’ plan for a potential move to Nevada. No filings for relocation were made; Oakland has until February 15.

‘There was little to no discussion on the topic of the Chargers,’ league executive Eric Grubman said.
And no decisions were planned nor made at the meeting, in which all members of the two committees took part, some by teleconference. 
Those owners are finance chairman Bob McNair of Houston, along with Atlanta’s Arthur Blank, Tampa Bay’s Joel Glazer, Kansas City’s Clark Hunt, Indianapolis’ Jim Irsay, Jacksonville’s Shahid Khan, New England’s Robert Kraft, Philadelphia’s Jeffrey Lurie and Miami’s Steve Ross.
Participating from the stadium committee were chairman Art Rooney of Pittsburgh, Arizona’s Michael Bidwill, the Jets’ Woody Johnson, Dallas’ Stephen Jones, Chicago’s George H. McCaskey and San Francisco’s Jed York.

The owners did talk about possible relocation fees, though Rooney said no specific numbers were discussed. 
PJT Partners, which analyzed what the relocation fee for the Rams’ move from St. Louis last year should be, has been hired by the league to do the same job again. The Rams paid $550 million to move to LA.
Much of the meeting was taken up with the Raiders presenting financial updates. 

Rooney and Grubman said there was no discussion of Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson’s potential role in the Raiders’ relocation. 
Rooney noted NFL rules and policies that would prohibit a casino owner from having ownership of a franchise.

‘It would have to be in compliance with our rules,’ Rooney said. ‘The Raiders are looking at the potential of doing without Mr. Adelson if it comes down to that.’