NFL playoffs: Ravens, Texans to start divisional round

Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will host the Houston Texans at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday in Baltimore. File Photo by David Tulis/UPI

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- NFL MVP favorite Lamar Jackson and the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens will host the emerging Houston Texans on Saturday in Baltimore, starting the divisional round of the 2024 NFL postseason.

Eight playoff teams remain, with four from the league's AFC and NFC vying for spots in conference title games. The Texans and Ravens will kick off that attempt at 4:30 p.m. EST from M&T Bank Stadium. The game will air on ABC and ESPN.

"Just to have another week to go out with my brothers is a blessing," Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud told reporters Saturday after the Texans beat the Cleveland Browns in the wild-card round. "I'm super excited for this team and the city of Houston."

Jackson's Ravens are 9.5-point favorites. Odds makers give the Ravens-Texans game the lowest point total (45.5) of the divisional round.

The Ravens have both the No. 6 offense and defense in the league in terms of yards gained and allowed. They allowed the fewest points during the regular season. The Ravens boast the top running game in the league. They also forced the most turnovers.

Running back Christian McCaffrey and the San Francisco 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers at 8:15 p.m. EST Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI

The Texans, the AFC's No. 4 seed, are led by Stroud, a frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. They surrendered the fewest turnovers in the NFL, while ranking No. 12 on offense and No. 14 on defense. They have the No. 6 rush defense and allowed the fewest passing touchdowns. The Ravens beat the Texans 25-9 in Week 1.

"Obviously they are very well coached and have really good young and veteran players," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference. "They have continued to improve throughout [the season]."

Quarterback Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions will meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional-round game at 3 p.m. EST Sunday in Detroit. File Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI

The top-seeded San Francisco 49ers will host the No. 7 Green Bay Packers in the first NFC divisional-round game. That matchup will kick off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in Santa Clara, Calif., and will air on Fox.

Kansas City Chiefs safety Mike Edwards (21) celebrates an interception against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Photo by Jon Robichaud/UPI

The 49ers rank third in points scored and allowed. They totaled the second-most yards on offense and allowed the eighth-fewest defensively. The 49ers have the No. 4 passing offense, but use their running game and defense to dominate foes. They ranked third in rushing yards gained and allowed during the regular season.

The Packers, who upset the No. 2 Dallas Cowboys in the first round, were 2-5 through eight weeks this season. They then ignited to win seven of their last nine games, including the 48-32 win over the Cowboys.

The Packers have the No. 11 offense and No. 17 defense in the league. They totaled the 12th-most passing yards and allowed the ninth-fewest during the regular season.

Packers quarterback Jordan Love, who is in his first full season as a starter, threw 14 touchdown passes and logged 10 turnovers through his first nine games. He then totaled 21 touchdown passes and just one interception over his last nine appearances, including the playoffs.

The 49ers are 9.5-point favorites and the game has the highest expected point total of the weekend (50.5).

The No. 3 Detroit Lions will host the No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Sunday's opener at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. That NFC matchup will kick off at 3 p.m. and air on NBC.

The Lions, who won their first playoff game 32 years last weekend, are 6.5-point favorites. They were among the most-balanced offenses in the NFL during the regular season, with the No. 2 passing game and No. 5 rushing attack. They were led defensively by the No. 2 unit against the run.

The Buccaneers were one of the hottest teams in the NFL over the last two months, winning six of their last seven games. They have the No. 5 rush defense in the league and just held the Philadelphia Eagles' No. 8-ranked unit to 42 yards on the ground in the wild-card round. They also allowed the seventh-fewest points in the NFL.

The Lions beat the Buccaneers 20-6 in Week 6.

The reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs, the AFC's No. 3 seed, will face the No. 2 Buffalo Bills in the final game of the weekend at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. That game will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on CBS.

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads a Chiefs offense, which ranked ninth in yardage during the regular season. The Chiefs also have the No. 2 defense in the league. They were strongest against the pass, allowing the fourth-fewest yards through the air.

Quarterback Josh Allen will lead the Bills' offense, which ranked fourth during the regular season. The Bills totaled the eighth-most passing yards and seventh-most rushing yards. Their defense allowed the ninth-fewest yards, led by a seventh-ranked pass defense.

The Bills, who beat the Chiefs 20-17 in Week 14, are 2.5-point favorites.

"I think we are playing at a comfortable level because of the uncomfortable situations we've been in over the last six or seven weeks," Allen said. "It's almost a breath of fresh air knowing everybody is in the same situation: win or go home."

The AFC Championship game will air at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 on CBS. The NFC Championship game will air at 6:30 p.m. that same night on Fox. Super Bowl LVIII will air at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11 on CBS.

The Bills-Chiefs game is expected to be the coldest of the weekend, with temperatures dipping below 20 degrees and a slight chance of snow in the forecast.

Divisional-round schedule

All times EST


Texans at Ravens at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN, ABC

Packers at 49ers at 8:15 p.m. on Fox


Buccaneers at Lions at 3 p.m. on NBC

Chiefs at Bills at 6:30 p.m. on CBS