The New England Patriots have earned a first-round AFC playoff bye.
More exciting is what Houston has done. The Texans rallied from losing their first three games to win the AFC South and will be the No 3 seed, hosting a wild-card contest next weekend.
Houston (11-5) easily handled Jacksonville 20-3 Sunday as Deshaun Watson threw for 234 yards and ran for a touchdown, and DeAndre Hopkins had 147 yards receiving.
The Texans finished last in the division in 2017. They and the Bears have done the worst-to-first turnaround this season, making it 15 of the past 16 seasons that has occurred in the league.
“It’s do or die now so you’ve got to put everything on the line now,” Watson said. “Prepare harder than you did before and anything can happen at this point. The tournament is wide open and it’s my first playoff, so I’m just excited to get in and see how things go.”
New England, meanwhile, will get a week off in early January for the 13th time since 2001, most in the NFL during that span. The Patriots (11-5) routed the Jets 38-3, and because they defeated Houston during the season, they get the bye.
“Eleven and five is nothing to be sad about,” Tom Brady said. “We fought pretty hard and put ourselves in good position.”
In later games, Kansas City earns the top AFC seed with a win at home over Oakland or a Los Angeles Chargers loss at home against Denver. The team that doesn’t take the division will be the fifth seed and play at the AFC North winner.
Baltimore gets that title by beating Cleveland, but Pittsburgh can grab it with a Ravens loss and a Steelers victory over Cincinnati. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are at home.
The Saints have the top seed in the NFC, and the Rams get the No. 2 spot if they beat San Francisco at Los Angeles. Chicago was seeded third heading into Week 7 — it needs a Rams loss and a victory at Minnesota on Sunday to be seeded second. A Vikings victory gives them a wild card; a loss and a win by defending champion Philadelphia at Washington sends the Eagles into the postseason.
Dallas is the fourth seed and will host a game next weekend. Seattle also owns a wild-card berth.
Source: The Associated Press