NFL playoffs bracket, matchups, schedule and live updates: Playoff field set — here’s how to watch


LANDOVER, Md. — As the Dallas Cowboys were taking care of business in Washington, D.C., locking up the NFC East and the No. 2 seed, the rest of the NFC playoff picture was coming together. The Green Bay Packers secured the final playoff spot in the conference with a win. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Rams rallied to beat the San Francisco 49ers to solidify the seeding.

“Regular season is cute,” Cowboys star pass-rusher Micah Parsons said. “People will be like, ‘Oh, you played great for a while.’ But this is legacy. There’s a term, ‘Be phenomenal or be forgotten.’ The way that Jimmy (Johnson) and (Michael Irvin), the way that people show them love, and Charles (Haley), that’s where me, CeeDee (Lamb) and Dak (Prescott) all want to be, into that legacy and earn our way into that type of Cowboys Hall of Fame.”

Parsons and the rest of these Cowboys know that to be revered like those Cowboys are years after their craft, playoff success is non-negotiable. Prescott leading the NFL in touchdown passes this season is phenomenal. Lamb breaking Irvin’s records (in the same 16 games Irvin had) is impressive. Parsons moving past the 13-sack mark for the first time in his career is great.

None of that holds up in the way of those legends of the ’90s if the success in January — at the very least, but eventually into February, too — doesn’t follow. The first ingredient for a strong January is to be solid in-house. The Cowboys’ offense, defense and special teams are clicking at a high level as the postseason preparation begins.

The other part is the opposition. For the Cowboys, the bracket — at least to the NFC Championship Game — has set up as nicely as they could have hoped.

“Yes, I do, completely,” Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones said about if he feels the path to the Cowboys’ first NFC championship in 27 years is manageable. “To have this home game, we’ll see what happens, but if we have success, we’ll have another home game. We feel pretty good about playing at home. If we’ve got to play some place, we prefer to play at home.”

The home-field advantage is the most obvious thing, as the Cowboys have the NFL’s longest active home winning streak (16 games) over the past two seasons. The teams that will be coming through AT&T Stadium present a great opportunity for the Cowboys, too.

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