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Road to Victory: Championship weekend in the NFL is set

The final four teams for the 2023 NFL season include some familiar faces (Kansas City, San Francisco) and some newcomers to the party (Baltimore, Detroit). Here is a recap of Divisional Round weekend and the schedule for Championship Sunday as the Super Bowl participants will be determined.

• Ravens 34, Texans 10 – The Ravens dominated the second half, outscoring the upstart Texans 24-0 to advance to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2012. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson accounted for four total touchdowns as he threw for 152 yards and two scores and rushed for 100 yards and crossed the end zone twice on the ground. The Ravens' defense stymied outstanding rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud as he was held to just 175 yards passing. In fact, the Texans' lone touchdown was a 67-yard punt return by Steven Sims late in the second quarter.

• 49ers 24, Packers 21 – The stat was flashed on the TV screen throughout the fourth quarter of FOX's broadcast – 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan entered Saturday night's game with an 0-30 record when trailing by seven or more points entering the fourth quarter. Well, that record is now 1-30. Christian McCaffrey's second touchdown of the game, a 6-yard run with 1:07 remaining, lifted San Francisco to its fourth NFC Championship Game appearance in five seasons. The Packers led 21-14 entering the final 15 minutes and looked to keep it at seven points with 6:21 left, but rookie kicker Anders Carlson's 41-yard field goal attempt went wide left. The Packers did have one final chance to win the game, but quarterback Jordan Love rolled right and threw across his body looking for wide receiver Christian Watson only for 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw to get the interception. 

• Lions 31, Buccaneers 23 – Detroit advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 1991 after holding off a gritty performance by quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game, like the Texans-Ravens showdown, was 10-10 at halftime before the offenses took over. Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns, while rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs accounted for 114 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown. Goff's 9-yard touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown made it 31-17 with 6:22 left and it looked like it was game over, but the Bucs quickly responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with a brilliant grab by wide receiver Mike Evans on a dart from Mayfield. Detroit aggressively used the passing game to milk the clock and ended up punting the ball away to give Tampa Bay one final chance, but Mayfield's pass intended for tight end Cade Otton over the middle was picked off by linebacker Derrick Barnes to send the Ford Field crowd into a frenzy.

• Chiefs 27, Bills 24 – Different year, same result. The Chiefs advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the sixth straight season after dismissing the Bills once again in heartbreak fashion. For the third time in the past four playoffs, these two teams met, and for the third time, the Chiefs were victorious. All three of these matchups have been one-score games. The difference in this season's matchup was the Chiefs' ability to generate explosive plays. Buffalo's longest play from scrimmage was an 18-yard run by quarterback Josh Allen. Meanwhile, six different Chiefs had plays of 24 yards or more either in the passing game or the running game. Kansas City punted just once the entire game and if not for a Mecole Hardman fumble out of the end zone from the 1-yard line, the Chiefs would have put more points on the board. The Bills still had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but the ghost of Scott Norwood continues to haunt Buffalo as Tyler Bass' 44-yard offering went wide right – just as Norwood's potential game-tying attempt did in Super Bowl XXV.

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Championship Sunday Matchups (Sunday, January 28)


No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1 Baltimore Ravens (3 PM, CBS)


No. 3 Detroit Lions at No. 1 San Francisco 49ers (6:30 PM, FOX)

Divisional Round Matchups (Saturday, January 20-Sunday, January 21)


No. 1 49ers 24, No. 7 Packers 21

No. 3 Detroit 31, No. 4 Buccaneers 23


No. 1 Ravens 34, No. 4 Texans 10

No. 3 Chiefs 27, No. 2 Bills 24

Wild Card Round Matchups


No. 1 49ers (BYE)

No. 7 Packers 48, No. 2 Cowboys 32

No. 3 Lions 24, No. 6 Rams 23

No. 4 Buccaneers 32, No. 5 Eagles 9


No. 1 Ravens (BYE)

No. 2 Bills 31, No. 7 Steelers 17

No. 3 Chiefs 26, No. 6 Dolphins 7

No. 4 Texans 45, No. 5 Browns 14

Final NFC Playoff Picture

1. 49ers (12-5) – Clinched NFC West title, clinched No. 1 seed

2. Cowboys (12-5) – Clinched NFC East title

3. Lions (12-5) – Clinched NFC North title

4. Buccaneers (9-8) – Clinched NFC South title

5. Eagles (11-6) – 1st Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth

6. Rams (10-7) – 2nd Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth

7. Packers (9-8) – 3rd Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth

Final NFC East Standings

1. Cowboys (12-5)

2. Eagles (11-6)

3. Giants (6-11)

4. Commanders (4-13)

Final AFC Standings

1. Ravens (13-4) – Clinched AFC North title, clinched No. 1 seed

2. Bills (11-6) – Clinched AFC East title

3. Chiefs (11-6) – Clinched AFC West title

4. Texans (10-7) – Clinched AFC South title

5. Browns (11-6) – 1st Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth

6. Dolphins (11-6) – 2nd Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth

7. Steelers (10-7) – 3rd Wild Card team, clinched playoff berth