Despair for Bears
Cody Parkey saw his last-ditch field goal attempt fall agonisingly short after bouncing off both upright and crossbar as the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Bears in dramatic fashion on Sunday night to cap a thrilling Wildcard weekend.
Eagles stand-in quarterback Nick Foles continued his fine finish to the season and found Golden Tate for a go-ahead touchdown for the Eagles on fourth-and-goal with 56 seconds remaining to set-up a sensational finale at Soldier Field.
The Bears responded quickly and with 10 seconds left Parkey had a 43-yard field goal try to win the game, but his effort bounced off the left upright, onto the crossbar and out. Incredibly, it was the sixth time this season the Bears kicker has struck the post.
Foles finished the night 25 of 40 passing, for 266 yards with two touchdowns, though did throw two first-half interceptions, as the Eagles look to become the first team since the Patriots in 2004 to retain the Vince Lombardi trophy and are currently 20.019/1 to win the Super Bowl in Atlanta next month but must first overcome the 3.613/5 favourites the New Orleans Saints next weekend.
Los Angeles charge on
Also on Sunday The Los Angeles Chargers survived a late Baltimore Ravens fightback to advance from the AFC Wild Card round with a 23-17 win in Maryland having seemingly had the game wrapped-up at the beginning of the Fourth Quarter.
It was a bad afternoon at the office for rookie Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was held to just two completions and 11 passing yards in the first half while the Ravens rushing attack, which had averaged 229.6 per game since Jackson's debut in Week 11, could only manage 90 yards in total.
While it was a forgettable occasion for Jackson it was a day to remember for Chargers' rookie kicker Mike Badgley, who kicked five field goals, while Melvin Gordon rushed for a one-yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter before the most unlikely of comebacks as two Michael Crabtree scores reduced the deficit to just six points.
The Chargers now advance to play the New England Patriots in the divisional round playoff matchup next Sunday and can be backed at 5.14/1 on the exchange to clinch the AFC Championship.
Colts make their own Luck
On Saturday The Indianapolis Colts secured a showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs next weekend as they cruised to a 21-7 win over the Houston Texans scoring touchdowns on three of their opening four offensive possessions to race to a 21-0 halftime lead.
Colts QB Andrew Luck, who finished 19 of 32 passing for 222 yards, was once again in the limelight, finding tight end Eric Ebron and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman in the endzone with his only disappointment being a J.J. Watt tipped interception early in the second quarter.
Despite a late touchdown when Deshaun Watson, who finished 29 of 49 for 235 yards, found Keke Coutee from six yards out the anticipated rally never materialised for the Texans who surrendered possession on their next drive.
The Colts, who opened the season 1-5, continued an impressive run by winning their fifth game on the bounce and now face the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional playoff game and are now 15.5 on the Super Bowl win market while their opponents next Saturday can be backed at 5.49/2.
Cowboys down Seahawks
In Saturday's late game, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Dallas Cowboys hung on for a 24-22 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Cowboys defence ran the show, keeping Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and their No 1 rushing attack at bay for most of the night to hand the visitors their first loss in their last four Wild Card games.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott enjoyed a productive night, throwing for 226 yards and had a one-yard sneak for a score in the fourth quarter though their chances were improved somewhat thanks to an injury to Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski.
Forced to try for the endzone rather than go for the kick the Seahawks took the lead in the third quarter but scores from Elliott and Prescott saw Dallas come storming back and they hung on for a victory that sets up a divisional round clash with the LA Rams next week and are now priced at currently 9.08/1 to win the NFC Championship as they chase their first Super Bowl since 1995.