The Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed they can still challenge in the post-Tom Brady era by clinching their third consecutive NFC South title with a 9-0 win over Carolina Panthers.
It is the fourth time in a row that they have qualified for the play-offs but the first without Brady, their superstar quarterback replaced by Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield was struggling with a rib injury but still contributed to the drives that enabled Chase McLaughlin to kick three field goals.
The Buccaneers finished the season with a 9-8 record – the same as New Orleans Saints but progress ahead of their rivals due to their higher win percentage in common games.
Tampa Bay meet Philadelphia in the first week of the play-offs after the Eagles continued their late-season free-fall with a 27-10 loss to the New York Giants.
The Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons 48-17 but the result in North Carolina meant their win was not enough to advance.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 28-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans saw the Houston Texans take the AFC South title and sent the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers into the play-offs.
Devin Singletary produced the key touchdown for the Texans in the final quarter of their 23-19 victory over the Indianapolis Colts with quarterback CJ Stroud passing for 264 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
The Texans will face the Cleveland Browns in the super wild card round with the Browns losing 31-14 to the Cincinnati Bengals after fielding a large number of reserve players.
The Buffalo Bills secured their fourth consecutive AFC East title with a 21-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Quarterback Josh Allen’s touchdown pass to Dawson Knox sealed the result for Buffalo halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Bills host the seventh seed Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, while Miami travel to Kansas City for a clash with the AFC West champion Chiefs on Saturday following their 13-12 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Detroit Lions may be without breakout tight end Sam LaPorta for their first home play-off game in 30 years after the rookie left the field with a knee injury in the middle of Detroit’s 30-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings.
The Lions will meet former Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford next week after he led the Los Angeles Rams over the San Francisco 49ers 21-20.
Dak Prescott continued his stellar season, lifting the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East title with a 38-10 victory over the Washington Commanders.