John Fox only wanted to deal in absolutes.
"We're AFC West champs," the Denver Broncos coach said after his team clinched the division and backed into the postseason despite losing their last three games. "It doesn't matter how you do it, once you get in the dance they can't kick you out."
The Giants, Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals were the only three teams that clinched spots on the final day of the regular season. But there was still plenty of jockeying for position among the other nine playoff teams.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots clinched the No. 1 overall seed after scoring 49 unanswered points to down Buffalo, 49-21, while the Baltimore Ravens won their first AFC North title since 2006 after beating Cincinnati to clinch the No. 2 seed.
The reward was a bye for both teams. New England was given in the 8 p.m. (et) slot on January 14 for its divisional round game, while Baltimore will have the 1 p.m. game a day later.
The Green Bay Packers already had the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so the battle was for No. 2 between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints. The 49ers got it by escaping St. Louis with a win, while the Saints settled for the No. 3 spot despite routing Carolina.
San Francisco, under first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, will host the first divisional round game at 4:30 p.m. on January 14. The Packers play at the same time a day later.
The sixth-seeded Bengals, who made it with some help from other teams, will play in the 4:30 p.m. game at Houston on Saturday in the first game of next weekend's wild card round. The Texans made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and are the No. 3 seed.
"A very, very big football game for this city and this football team," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said.
Also Saturday, New Orleans will host the sixth-seeded Detroit Lions in the 8 p.m. game. The fifth-seeded Atlanta Falcons will play on the road against the NFC East champion Giants in the 1 p.m. game on Sunday, with Pittsburgh visiting Tim Tebow and Denver in the 4:30 p.m. contest.
The Broncos won the division via tiebreakers after tying San Diego and Oakland with an 8-8 record.