Welcome to the final week of the NFL regular season.
Today, the Chargers (8-7) are hosting the Oakland Raiders (6-9) at StubHub Center. They could still technically reach the playoffs, but they’ll need help. The NFC West champion Rams (11-4) are resting many of their starters in their regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers (5-10).
Whew! The NFL’s playoff seeds and first-round matchups were set in dramatic fashion.
Buffalo got the final postseason berth when Cincinnati stunned Baltimore. The Bengals scored on a fourth-and-12 as Andy Dalton hooked up with Tyler Boyd for a 49-yard score with 53 seconds remaining. The unlikely outcome scrambled the postseason picture for five AFC teams: Baltimore, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Tennessee.
The Bills will be in the playoffs for the first time since 1999. They had the longest postseason drought of any pro team in North America.
The Titans earned the other AFC wild-card spot by beating the Jaguars.
New Orleans won the NFC South despite losing at Tampa Bay in the final minute. It was the only division race unsettled going into Sunday. Fellow NFC South teams Carolina and Atlanta earned wild cards.
Baltimore (9-7) and the Chargers (9-7) were eliminated in the AFC. Seattle (9-7) missed out in the NFC.
So the postseason seeds look like this:
1. New England (13-3)
2. Pittsburgh (13-3)
3. Jacksonville (10-6)
4. Kansas City (10-6)
5. Tennessee (9-7)
6. Buffalo (9-7)
1. Philadelphia (13-3)
2. Minnesota (13-3)
3. Rams (11-5)
4. New Orleans (11-5)
5. Carolina (11-5)
6. Atlanta (10-6)
The top two seeds in each conference get byes, leaving the other eight teams to play next weekend.
Jacksonville will host Buffalo. Kansas City will host Tennessee.
The Rams will host Atlanta. New Orleans will host Carolina, their third meeting this season.
Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has been fired after a disappointing season.
Del Rio said owner Mark Davis told him after the team’s season-ending 30-10 loss to the Chargers on Sunday that he would not be retained as head coach.
Del Rio had signed a four-year contract extension in February after Oakland ended a 13-year playoff drought with a 12-win season last year.
The Raiders followed that up with one of the most disappointing seasons in the NFL. Oakland went 6-10 for the second-biggest single-season drop in wins in franchise history.
Getting to the playoffs with a healthy roster was the Rams stated goal.
With most starters safely ensconced on the sidelines, the Rams emerged mostly unscathed from Sunday’s 34-13 defeat by the San Francisco 49ers at the Coliseum.
Rams stars such as quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley and defensive lineman Aaron Donald looked on as 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led his team to its fifth consecutive victory before an estimated crowd of 55,000.
The Chargers had one job Sunday in their season finale — beat the Oakland Raiders.
All the playoff scenarios over the final week of the season included that part of the recipe, and in front of a very-pro Raiders crowd, the Chargers more than did what they needed to do.
Thanks to a masterful Philip Rivers and a dominant defense, the Chargers steamrolled the Raiders 30-10. It was the only thing they could control on Sunday.
The Chargers went long distance again, with Philip Rivers hitting Travis Benjamin on a 62-yard touchdown pass to take a 30-10 lead over the Raiders with 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
Rivers has completed 26 of 34 passes for 354 yards and three touchdowns.
Penalties kept the Chargers out of the end zone on the first drive of the second half, but Nick Rose did make a 25-yard field goal to add to the Chargers’ lead, putting them up 23-10 with 10:39 left in the third quarter.
The Indianapolis Colts fired coach Chuck Pagano on Sunday, less than two hours after they ended a 4-12 season with a 22-13 victory over Houston.
Team owner Jim Irsay made the announcement in a statement, wishing Pagano and his wife well in the future.
The move comes after Indy missed the playoffs for the third straight year, the team's longest postseason drought since a seven-season absence from 1988 to 1994.
With Andrew Luck missing the entire 2017 season, Indy never had a chance. The Colts wound up with their first losing season since 2011, their second since 2002, and the first in Pagano's six seasons as coach.
Pagano finished his first head coaching job with a 56-46 record, including a 3-3 mark in the playoffs.
The Chargers turned a Tre Boston interception into a key touchdown right as the first half ended.
Boston’s pick just inside the two-minute warning allowed Philip Rivers to orchestrate a beautiful drive that ended with perfect passes to Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen. Allen’s catch, a six-yard fade, put the Chargers up 20-10.
The Chargers couldn’t add the extra point, though, after Nick Rose had another kick blocked.
The two teams traded broken coverages, with the Chargers taking advantage of the shaky Raiders’ secondary.
Philip Rivers found a wide-open Tyrell Williams for a 56-yard touchdown, giving the Chargers a 14-10 lead with 5:12 left in the first half.
The Chargers continued to pay for their inconsistency kicking the football.
After Nick Rose’s 50-yard attempt was too low and easily blocked, the Raiders converted on a 40-yard kick to give the Raiders a 10-7 lead with 7:27 left.
The Raiders responded quickly, beating the Chargers deep on an 87-yard touchdown pass on third-and-22.
Derek Carr found Amari Cooper streaking through the defense for the big play, which following the extra point, tied the game 7-7.
A costly penalty on third down extended a drive for the Chargers, who got a good bounce on the next play to make the Raiders pay.
Melvin Gordon fumbled for the first time this season after breaking through the line, but the ball bounced right into Keenan Allen’s hands. And Allen, with no one in front of him, ran right into the end zone.
After Nick Rose’s kick, the Chargers lead 7-0 with 13:09 left in the first half.