The Eagles and Packers went on the road Sunday and headed home with playoff berths.
Philadelphia completed a terrific turnaround under new coach Chip Kelly by beating Dallas 24-22 to win the NFC East.
Hours before, Aaron Rodgers played the role of returning hero, along with Randall Cobb, in Green Bay’s 33-28 victory at Chicago to capture the NFC North title.
The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans (11-5) on Saturday night. Green Bay (8-7-1) is home against San Francisco (12-4) on Sunday.
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The wild-card round begins Saturday with Kansas City (11-5) at Indianapolis (11-5). The early game Sunday is San Diego (9-7) at Cincinnati (11-5).
Brandon Boykin’s interception in the final two minutes clinched Philadelphia’s win. One year after the Eagles finished 4-12, they won seven of their final eight games to win the division.
“A huge win for Philly, a huge win for us, just a great moment,” Boykin said.
Dallas (8-8) has lost three straight showdown finales for the NFC East title.
At Chicago, in his first game back from a broken left collarbone, Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Cobb on fourth-and-eight with 38 seconds left for the go-ahead score.
Rodgers had been out since getting injured in a loss to Chicago on Nov. 4, and Cobb missed the previous 10 games with a knee problem. Still, the Packers edged the archrival Bears (8-8) for the division crown by winning three of their last four games.
“It’s big. Obviously, he is the best quarterback in the league,” said Packers receiver Jordy Nelson, who caught 10 passes for 161 yards. “To be gone for that many weeks and to play as well as he did — it was great to have him back.”
San Diego also finished off a rally to get into the postseason, beating short-handed Kansas City 27-24 in overtime for its fourth consecutive victory. After Miami and Baltimore lost earlier in the day, the Chargers rode Nick Novak’s 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in OT to the sixth seed.
“We didn’t play our best game, but teams that are playoff teams find a way to win when you don’t play your best and that’s what we did today,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.
Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a 41-yard field goal to win it with four seconds left in regulation. Pittsburgh would have gotten the playoff spot over San Diego had Succop connected.
While walking from the visitors’ locker room to the team bus, 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis offered his initial thoughts on San Francisco’s first-round playoff opponent, the Green Bay Packers.
“Aaron Rodgers is a competitor,” Willis said. “They have a good football team that fights. And it’s going to be cold.”
At that point, Willis smiled. He and his teammates don’t dread the cold that awaits them in northern Wisconsin. They embrace it.
“The big thing for us is, we’ve just got guys with heart, guys that want to win at all costs,” Willis said Sunday after the 49ers’ win-at-all-costs, 23-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
“Regardless of whether we’re on concrete, in the cold, in the rain, whatever it may be, we just want to win.”
AFC West champion Denver (13-3), the highest-scoring team in NFL history with 606 points, earned the No. 1 seed in the conference by romping at Oakland 34-14. New England (12-4), the AFC East winner, will be the second seed and also have a bye next weekend. The Patriots beat Buffalo 34-20.
|The Super Bowl is Feb. 2 (3:20 p.m. on Ch. 13) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.|
|Date, TV||Away team (W-L)||Home team (W-L)|
|Sat., 5:10 p.m., NBC||No. 6 Saints (11-5)||No. 3 Eagles (10-6)|
|Sun., 1:40 p.m., FOX||No. 5 Niners (12-4)||No. 4 Packers (8-7-1)|
|Jan. 11, 1:35 p.m., FOX||Lowest rem. seed||No. 1 Hawks (13-3)|
|Jan. 12, 10 a.m., FOX||Highest rem. seed||No. 2 Panthers (12-4)|
|Sat., 1:35 p.m., NBC||No. 5 Chiefs (11-5)||No. 4 Colts (11-5)|
|Sun., 10:05 a.m., CBS||No. 6 S.D. (9-7)||No. 3 Bengals (11-5)|
|Jan. 11, 5:15 p.m., CBS||Highest rem. seed||No. 2 Patriots (12-4)|
|Jan. 12, 1:40 p.m., CBS||Lowest rem. seed||No. 1 Broncos (13-3)|