December 31, 2018 / 1:22 AM / 20 days ago

Patriots earn bye, Eagles reach playoffs on final day of season

(Reuters) - The Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles used victories in their season finales on Sunday to secure the final playoff spots in the National Football League (NFL).

Dec 30, 2018; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) tackles Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack (25) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. Indianapolis won 33-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl champion Eagles beat Washington 24-0 to grab the final wild card spot in the NFC after Minnesota lost to Chicago.

Philadelphia (9-7) will travel to Chicago (12-4) on Sunday and hope for a clean bill of health for quarterback Nick Foles, last year’s Super Bowl MVP, who injured his ribs in the win.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis completed a season turnaround after starting their campaign 1-5 by beating Tennessee 33-17 to set up a playoff against Houston (11-5) on Saturday.

“I think what this team is doing is enjoying the journey,” Colts quarterback Andrew Luck told reporters. “We’re glad we get to go out again next weekend.”

Baltimore needed a nail-biting triumph against Cleveland 26-24 to clinch the AFC North crown. The Ravens (10-6) will host the Los Angeles Chargers (12-4) on Sunday.

The New England Patriots had earlier crushed the New York Jets 38-3 to secure a first round bye in the playoffs.

The lowly Jets had no answer for Tom Brady and the resurgent Patriots offense as the five-time Super Bowl champion threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns on a chilly day in Foxborough, where the team were a perfect 8-0 this season.

“It was a great way to finish the year with two wins at home against our division opponents after two pretty tough losses,” Brady said after his squad clinched a first-round bye for a record ninth consecutive year.

“We showed some resilience and we’re going to need it going forward.”

The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 to set up a showdown next week in Dallas after the Cowboys edged the New York Giants 36-35.

The Saints (13-3) will have a first round bye and home field advantage at the Superdome in New Orleans throughout the playoffs despite losing 33-14 to the Carolina Panthers in a game that had little consequence for the NFC South champs.

The Kansas City Chiefs secured the number one seed in the AFC for the first time in over two decades on the back of another superb effort by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who led the team to a 35-3 dismantling of the Oakland Raiders.

The Chiefs will have a week off while they await their divisional-round opponent, who will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face the AFC West champs.

Additional reporting by Jahmal Corner; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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