Ravens back in playoffs, earn AFC wild card

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Kamar Aiken celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, in Baltimore. Baltimore won 20-10. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)


BALTIMORE, Maryland — The Baltimore Ravens are back in the NFL playoffs after a 20-10 victory over Cleveland on Sunday, while the Seattle Seahawks earned home-ground advantage.

Baltimore made the postseason in the first five years with John Harbaugh as coach and Joe Flacco at quarterback, winning the 2012 championship. They failed to get in last season, but victory over the Browns on Sunday, combined with San Diego’s 19-7 loss at Kansas City, did the trick.

The Ravens earned a wild card and will be seeded sixth in the AFC. They will play at AFC North champion Pittsburgh, their staunch division rival, next Saturday.

��Anything can happen when you get into the playoffs,�� Flacco said. ��I won’t be surprised if in three weeks from now we’re still sitting here playing.��

Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle earned the top seed in the NFC by beating St. Louis 20-6. The Seahawks, winners of the NFC West, were 7-1 at home at the intimidating CenturyLink Field, and have a bye next week. They will play on Saturday, Jan. 10.

��Our main goal coming into the season was winning the division, but getting the No. 1 seed is just as big,�� Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said.

Green Bay won the NFC North by handling Detroit 30-20 and got the No. 2 seed in the conference and a bye. Both the Packers and Seahawks finished 12-4, with the tiebreaker being Seattle’s opening victory against Green Bay.

Detroit (11-5) will play at NFC East champ Dallas (12-4) in the wild-card round next Sunday. Green Bay’s first game will be the following Sunday.

��We prefer to play here. But this is playoff football now. Everything changes once we get going in two weeks. Playing at home doesn’t guarantee you anything and there are no guarantees, but this is definitely where we prefer to play,�� coach Mike McCarthy said.

Carolina (7-8-1) became the second division champion with a losing record in NFL history. Its 34-3 rout at Atlanta earned the NFC South title.

The Panthers will host injury-ravaged Arizona (11-5), which fell to San Francisco 20-17 but got the other NFC wild card. That game is next Saturday.

��The beautiful thing �X record doesn’t matter,�� coach Ron Rivera said. ��That’s the best part.��

AFC East champion New England (12-4) owns home-field advantage in the conference and will be off next weekend before resuming on Jan. 10. Denver (12-4), the West winner, also will have a bye after defeating Oakland, 47-14. The Broncos will play next on Jan. 11.

AFC North champion Pittsburgh (11-5) beat Cincinnati 27-17 for that title. The Bengals (10-5-1) got a wild-card berth and are at South champion Indianapolis (11-5) next Sunday.