Welcome to Wild-Card Weekend in the NFL! In the AFC, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots each have first-round byes, and will be watching at home as the Cincinnati Bengals take on their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, and the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs take on reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and Houston Texans this Saturday. Here's your complete AFC Wild Card schedule, including game times, TV channels, announcers, live streaming, radio and more. All games are streamed via NFL Game Pass.
Use this as your open thread for all of the AFC Wild Card action.
No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at No. 4 Houston Texans (9-7)
The Chiefs have continued to conquer, winning their last 10 games to finish the season to capture the first Wild Card spot in the AFC. They'll face the AFC South champion, the Texans. This is the first time these two teams will meet in postseason play. The last time the Chiefs won a playoff road game was in 1994, before yours truly was born, against the old team in Houston, the Oilers.
For the Chiefs to continue their winning ways, they'll likely lean on their tough defense and starting quarterback Alex Smith. Starting with Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick has passed for more than 800 yards, as well as 9 touchdowns and zero interceptions in three career playoff games -- all wins. Smith also has a 3-0 career record against the Texans. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has thrived in Kansas City after reuniting with head coach Andy Reid. Maclin had a single-season club record 87 receptions for more than 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. On defense, the Chiefs are led by Houston -- Justin Houston, that is. The outside linebacker is one of the top sack artists in the game, trailing only J.J. Watt for most sacks since 2012. Safety Eric Berry has recovered from Hodgkin's Lymphoma and thrived this year, earning a first-team All-Pro selection as well as a Pro Bowl nod. Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters leads all rookies in interceptions, with eight, and is also on his way to the Pro Bowl. The Chiefs had three other players selected to the Pro Bowl, including Houston, Tamba Hali and Travis Kelce.
On the other side, the Texans won the AFC South for the first time since 2012 and are 2-0 at home in postseason history. The offense is highlighted by wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had a club-record 11 touchdowns this season. He is just the second Texans receiver (Andre Johnson being the first) to have more than 100 catches and 1,500 yards in a single season. But the Texans strong suit is their defense. Houston was second in the AFC in total defense and pass defense. Watt, mentioned earlier, led the NFL in sacks this season with 17.5, and he's flanked by dynamic linebackers Whitney Mercilus and former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Watt and Hopkins are the only two players on the team voted to the Pro Bowl. Watt also received an All-Pro selection.
No. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Thanks to an epic collapse by the New York Jets last Sunday, the Steelers were able to seize the second Wild Card spot in the AFC and get to face their division rival, the Bengals. This is just the second time the teams will meet in the postseason, the first time being in 2006. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series between the two franchises, 56-35. The teams split their regular season series in 2015.
The Steelers have had long success in the playoffs, and if they win this game, will tie the Dallas Cowboys for the most postseason wins of all-time. In 2005, the Steelers became the first No. 6 seed in NFL history to win the Super Bowl. Without running backs Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, the Steelers will rely on the arm of former Super Bowl MVP Ben Roethlisberger, who led the NFL in passing yards per game this season. Roethlisberger has thrived both in the postseason and at Cincinnati during his career, sporting an 11-2 record at Paul Brown Stadium. Wide receiver Antonio Brown, a first-team All-Pro selection, continued to make his case as the best receiver in the NFL. Brown put up video game numbers this year, hauling in a career-best 136 catches -- second-most in a single season in NFL history -- and ranked second in the NFL with a Steelers franchise record 1,834 receiving yards. Roethlisberger, Brown and guard David DeCastro were the team's Pro Bowl selections.
On the Bengals side, they'll likely play this game without starting quarterback Andy Dalton and try to win a playoff game for the first time in 25 years. This is Cincinnati's fifth consecutive year in the playoffs. A.J. McCarron will get the start and while he doesn't have big-game experience in the NFL, his college days at the University of Alabama provide a great precursor. Running back Jeremy Hill slumped a bit during his second season, but had a penchant for finding the end zone, tying for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns this season (11). A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, who led NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown receptions on the year, are the top two weapons on Cincinnati's offense. The team's defense, led by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, will look to pressure Roethlisberger. Dunlap set the club record this year in single-season sacks, with 13.5. Safety Reggie Nelson, one of the top ball hawks in the NFL, is tied for first in the NFL with eight interceptions. The team's five Pro Bowl selections are Green, Eifert, Atkins, Nelson and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Bengals blog: Cincy Jungle