The NFL divisional playoffs are this Saturday and Sunday, and here’s the times and scores.
Sunday, Jan. 12:
DENVER WON – San Diego Chargers (10-8) at Denver Broncos (14-3), 4:40 p.m. ET (CBS) – It’s the New England Patriots vs the Broncos in Denver on Sunday.
Final: Denver 24, San Diego 17
SF WON – San Francisco 49ers (14-4) at Carolina Panthers (12-5), 1:05 p.m. ET (FOX) – San Francisco plays the Seahawks in Seattle.
Final: San Francisco 23, Carolina 10
Divisional Playoffs: Saturday, Jan.11:
New England won – Indianapolis Colts (12-6) at New England Patriots (13-4), 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Final – New England 43, Indianapolis 22
Seattle won – New Orleans Saints (12-6) at Seattle Seahawks (14-3), 4:35 p.m. ET (FOX)
Final: Seattle 23, New Orleans 15
Seattle will play at home against the visiting 49ers.
Last week’s scores were:
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS, 27, CINCINNATI BENGALS 10
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 45, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 44
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 26, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 24
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 23, GREEN BAY PACKERS 20
SF pummels Carolina 23-10
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers are headed to the NFC championship game once again — to face a familiar opponent in a place where they’ve struggled.
Kaepernick threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score as the 49ers shut down Cam Newton and defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10 on Sunday to advance to the NFC title game for the third straight season.
Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yards, avenging his worst statistical performance of the season two months ago against the Panthers.
Anquan Boldin had eight catches for 136 yards and Frank Gore ran for 84 yards on 17 carries for the 49ers (14-4), who’ll travel to Seattle next Sunday looking for a return trip to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco split two games with the Seahawks this season. The 49ers lost 29-3 at Seattle in September and were beaten 42-13 at CenturyLink Field in December 2012.
The 49ers held Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on the 1-yard line in the first half. It was a rough playoff debut for the former Heisman Trophy winner.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks stopped Newton on a fourth-down sneak early in the second. Later, Brooks vaulted over the line and past Newton — he was called for offsides, but the 49ers showed the Panthers it wouldn’t be easy.
Kaepernick was held to 91 yards passing and 16 yards rushing in the first meeting with Carolina, a 10-9 loss at Candlestick Park.
But he played efficient football on Sunday.
San Francisco led 13-10 at the half, and Kaepernick scored midway through in the third quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run off a read option. Kaepernick then imitated Newton’s Superman celebration by pretending to rip open his shirt.
Newton and the Panthers offense had no answer, failing to score in the second half.
The game was not without its share of disputes.
The 49ers took a 13-10 lead into the locker room after Vernon Davis caught a 1-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Kaepernick with 5 seconds left in the first half.
After a pass interference on cornerback Drayton Florence set the 49ers up with a first and goal at the 1, Davis was initially ruled out of the end zone, prompting 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh to come racing on to the field to dispute the call, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. But after reviewing the play, officials ruled Davis dragged his left foot and overturned the call on the field.
But that wasn’t all.
Television replays showed the 49ers had 12 men in the huddle before the play, which should have resulted in a 5-yard dead ball penalty.
The touchdown was the first time in 18 possessions for the 49ers against the Panthers this season.
Carolina spotted San Francisco a 6-0 lead with two defensive penalties — an unnecessary roughness on safety Mike Mitchell and a headbutt on cornerback Captain Munnerlyn — leading to field goals.
Wide receiver Steve Smith, who was questionable all week with a sprained knee ligament, gave Carolina a 7-6 lead with a 31-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Smith was well covered, but turned just in time to see the ball coming over cornerback Tarell Brown’s shoulder for his 10th touchdown in nine postseason games.
Carolina led 10-6 before Davis’ touchdown catch put the 49ers ahead for good.
It’s the second time since 2008 the Panthers have lost at home in the divisional playoffs after winning the NFC South and claiming a first-round bye with the No. 2 seed.
The win set up the third game of the season between Seattle and San Francisco. The Seahawks romped at home 29-3 on Sept. 15, then the 49ers won at home 19-17 on Dec. 8.
Seahawks rumble past Saints, 23-15
SEATTLE (AP) — Marshawn Lynch ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals in blustery conditions and Seattle’s defense flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in a 23-15 victory Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff game.
The top-seeded Seahawks advanced to the NFC championship game for the second time in franchise history and will host San Francisco or Carolina next Sunday. Seattle last reached the conference title game in the 2005 playoffs.
Seattle shut out the Saints in the first half, got Lynch’s first 100-yard game since Week 10 of the regular season and received a spark from the brief return of Percy Harvin before he left with a concussion. Lynch scored on a 15-yard run in the first half and capped the victory with a 31-yard scoring run with 2:40 left that coach Pete Carroll celebrated by jumping into offensive line coach Tom Cable’s arms.
Welker eager for return after month away
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Wes Welker says he has no apprehensions about concussions or rust as he returns to the Denver Broncos’ lineup Sunday for the first time in more than a month.
It’s the longest the 10-year pro has ever been sidelined.
Welker missed the Broncos’ last 3½ games after sustaining his second concussion in a four-week span just before halftime in a game against Tennessee on Dec. 8.
The Broncos sorely missed him four days later in a 27-20 loss to San Diego, when they were just 2 for 9 on third down and suffered their only home loss of the season.
Denver (13-3) hosts the Chargers (10-7) Sunday in the AFC Divisional round.
“One of the first times I’ve been out of the game on the sidelines, so I’m very anxious to get back,” said Welker, who was cleared last week during the bye and quickly regained his rhythm with Peyton Manning.
“Yeah, when you’ve played as long as I have it comes back pretty quick. I really wasn’t too worried about that,” Welker said.
He also said he’s not going to fret about the possibility of another head injury when he lines up in the slot Sunday.
“I don’t worry about the concussions or anything like that. I just focus on my assignment, my technique and go out there and play the best I can,” he said.
Welker caught a career-high 10 TD passes in his first season with Manning after spending his last six seasons catching passes from Tom Brady in New England. He was on pace for his sixth career 100-catch season before being sidelined and finished with 73 catches for 778 yards.
Welker was one of the several free agents the Broncos signed last winter in the wake of their devastating 38-35 double-overtime loss to Baltimore in the playoffs last year.
“I suffered disappointment, too, last year,” said Welker, whose Patriots were beaten by the Ravens 28-13 in the AFC championship a week later. “I’m just as hungry as everybody else and want to get out there and play my best.”
With 15-25 mph winds expected, Denver’s downfield passing attack to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker might be curtailed against the Chargers, which could put an even bigger emphasis on Welker’s routes.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be windy enough to affect the passing game or not but you just have to focus in and be ready,” Welker said. “I think it will affect the kicking game more than anything if it is windy.”