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AP photo by Justin Rex / Tennessee Titans offensive guard Rodger Saffold celebrates with fans after Sunday's road win against the Houston Texans to close the regular season and lock up the AFC's No. 1 seed for the NFL playoffs.

The AFC playoffs will be running through Music City, and the Tennessee Titans should have Derrick Henry back for their first game this postseason.

The Titans, who used a league-high 91 players for the most ever in any NFL season without a strike, clinched their first No. 1 seed since 2008 and third overall. They needed only a win Sunday, though they made it interesting before holding off the Houston Texans 28-25 to clinch the top spot.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel, who guided Tennessee to a third straight postseason berth in his fourth year with the team, noted nobody hands out T-shirts and hats for clinching the top seed. However, it does mean a weekend of rest when other qualifiers are competing in the wild-card round — and it gives his team home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

"We understand we're in the elite eight," Vrabel said. "We've moved onto the second round of the playoffs without having to play a playoff game."

One of those wild-card round winners will visit Nashville the weekend of Jan. 22-23, and Henry could be on the field for a game for the first time since Oct. 31, when he broke a bone in his right foot and had surgery two days later. The running back who led the NFL in rushing in the 2019 and 2020 seasons returned to practice this past week but was not activated for the regular-season finale in Houston.

This NFL postseason will feature seven teams who missed the playoffs last season: the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers and Las Vegas Raiders, who clinched their berth in the regular season's final game. It wound up a 35-32 overtime thriller over the Los Angeles Chargers when a tie would have put both teams in.

"We knew no matter what, we didn't want a tie," Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. "We wanted to win the football game."

The Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) needed the Titans to lose to clinch the AFC's top seed. The Titans' win locked Kansas City in the No. 2 seed thanks to Tennessee (12-5) holding the tiebreaker after beating the Chiefs 27-3 on Oct. 24 in Nashville. Kansas City will host the Pittsburgh Steelers next Sunday night in the wild-card round.

Only the Green Bay Packers had their playoff seeding set as the NFC's No. 1 going into the NFL's final week of the regular season.

The Indianapolis Colts came in on a roll with seven Pro Bowl players needing only to beat the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars to reach the playoffs. Instead, the Colts blew a wild-card berth by losing their seventh straight road game to the Jaguars, 26-11.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will play at least one more game after Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson ended the possibility of a chaotic tie in Las Vegas with his 47-yard field goal at the end of overtime. The Steelers had been on the outside looking in until the Colts' loss, and then Pittsburgh beat the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 in overtime. Then the Steelers had to wait and watch in case the Chargers and Raiders tied before clinching the No. 7 seed.

"I'm just happy for Ben," Steelers kicker Chris Boswell said. "We're sending him to the playoffs. This team deserves it."

The fifth-seeded Raiders (10-7) will visit No. 4 seed Cincinnati (10-7) on Saturday afternoon in the first game of the wild-card round. The Bengals beat the Raiders 32-13 on a trip to Las Vegas in November.

The Buffalo Bills (11-6) clinched their second straight AFC East Division title and the No. 3 seed by beating the New York Jets 27-10. They will host sixth-seeded New England (10-7) on Saturday night in the Patriots' first wild-card game on the road under coach Bill Belichick — the team's 17 previous playoff berths all came as AFC East champs.

The Patriots lost three of their final four games in the regular season, including 33-24 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. In the Buffalo-New England season series, each won on the other's home field, with the Patriots throwing only three passes to win 14-10 at Buffalo, while the Bills won 33-21 at New England on Dec. 26.

In the NFC, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4) clinched the No. 2 seed by downing the Carolina Panthers 41-17. The Bucs will begin in earnest their bid to repeat as Super Bowl champions by hosting seventh-seeded Philadelphia (9-8) in the first wild-card game next Sunday.

The third-seeded Cowboys, who routed the Eagles on Saturday night, will host sixth-seeded San Francisco (10-7) in the second wild-card game Sunday afternoon. The 49ers beat the Rams 27-24 in overtime to earn their second playoff berth in three seasons.

The Rams (12-5) won their third NFC West title in five seasons with coach Sean McVay when Arizona lost 38-30 to the Seattle Seahawks, the Cardinals' fourth loss in five games. The Rams' loss dropped them to the No. 4 seed, and they will host the fifth-seeded Cardinals (11-6) on Monday, Jan. 17, in the wild-card round. Each team won as the visitor in the two matchups this season. Arizona won at Los Angeles 37-20 in October and the Rams won 30-23 at Arizona last month.

"Playing on the road has been good to us," Arizona defensive back Jalen Thompson said, "so it will be a plus if we can go out and handle business the same way."

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AP photo by Ellen Schmidt / Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson, center, celebrates after making a 47-yard field goal to beat the visiting Los Angeles Chargers 35-32 in overtime Sunday night in the final game of the NFL's 2021 regular season.

NFL PLAYOFFS

All Times Eastern

WILD-CARD ROUND

Saturday, Jan. 15

AFC: No. 5 Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) at No. 4 Cincinnati Bengals (10-7), 4:35 p.m. (NBC)

AFC: No. 6 New England Patriots (10-7) at No. 3 Buffalo Bills (11-6), 8:15 p.m. (CBS)

Sunday, Jan. 16

NFC: No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at No. 2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4), 1 p.m. (Fox)

NFC: No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at No. 3 Dallas Cowboys (12-5), 4:30 p.m. (CBS)

AFC: No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (12-5), 8:15 p.m. (NBC)

Monday, Jan. 17

NFC: No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (12-5), 8:15 p.m. (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2)

 

DIVISIONAL ROUND

Saturday, Jan. 22-Sunday, Jan. 23

Lowest remaining NFC seed at No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-4), TBD

Lowest remaining AFC seed at No. 1 Tennessee Titans (12-5), TBD

 

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

Sunday, Jan. 30

AFC, 3:05 p.m. (CBS)

NFC, 6:40 p.m. (Fox)

 

SUPER BOWL LVI

Sunday, Feb. 13

At SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California

AFC champion vs. NFC champion, 6:30 p.m. (NBC)

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