Panthers to meet Cardinals in NFC championship game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers will host the NFC championship game for the first time after knocking out the two-time conference champion Seattle Seahawks 31-24 on Sunday.

The top-seeded Panthers (16-1) will host the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday for a spot in the Super Bowl. The Cardinals (14-3) beat the Green Bay Packers 26-20 in overtime on Saturday night.

Newton threw a touchdown pass, Luke Kuechly scored on an interception return and the Panthers raced to a 31-0 halftime lead before holding off a second-half surge by the Seahawks.

It is Carolina’s fourth appearance in the NFC title game and first since 2005.

The Panthers and Cardinals have not played this season.

This will be the third time since 2008 the Cardinals have visited the Panthers in a playoff game. In 2008, the Cardinals upset the No. 2-seeded Panthers 33-13 in the divisional playoffs en route to their only Super Bowl appearance.

The Panthers defeated the Cardinals at home 27-16 in the wild card round last season.

AP NFL websites: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Watch Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts live on TNF

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The Indianapolis Colts host the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football in a battle of two former contenders whose seasons have gone wrong.

Following a strong start, the Broncos went 1-8, as their typically astute defense has struggled to keep opponents out of the end zone. Denver’s offense has not helped the team’s cause either. The Broncos have failed to find clarity at quarterback with Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch all seeing time.

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The Colts have had their own deficiencies this season without star quarterback Andrew Luck. Jacoby Brissett has provided admirable coverage under center with 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions, but he has not been able to keep up with a Colts defense that has let up the second-most points in the NFL this season.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Broncos vs. Colts

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Watch Dallas Cowboys vs. Oakland Raiders live on SNF

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The Oakland Raiders host the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football as both teams look to keep their playoff hopes alive.

With a win, Dallas will maintain its chances of sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card. After struggling initially, Dak Prescott has been able to adjust to life without Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott threw for three touchdowns and a season-high 332 yards in the Cowboys win last week over the New York Giants.

If the Cowboys can hang around, Elliott can give them a boost when he returns from suspension next week heading into the final stretch of the season.

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The Raiders also find themselves in need of a win as they are in the middle of a contested AFC West battle with the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense will need to improve after dropping from the league’s sixth-best offense in 2016 to 19th this season.

Football Night in America

Start time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app

Cowboys vs. Raiders

Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV channel: NBC

Live stream: NBCSports.com, NBC Sports app