Still, the Colts will enter banged up, with cornerback Greg Toler and safety LaRon Landry among those whose status could be uncertain up until game time.

The last playoff meeting between the teams was in the 2006 AFC Championship Game. True to modern form, the Colts won the game, 38-34, overcoming an 18-point deficit.

The Colts reached the playoffs in 2012 but lost in the wild-card round to Super Bowl champion Baltimore. Pagano said the team was focused not to go home early.

SUNDAY'S GAMES

SAN FRANCISCO AT CAROLINA

1:05 p.m. ET

The NFC South champion Carolina Panthers join the postseason party next weekend by playing host to the San Francisco 49ers, who escaped a wild card war in Green Bay with a final-play field goal, 23-20.

This is a rematch of a Nov. 10 game in San Francisco when the Panthers gained serious attention by coming back from a 9-0 deficit to beat the reigning NFC champs, 10-9.

Although it was an ugly game, it was a statement that the Panthers needed as they had been 2-14 in their previous 16 games decided by a touchdown or less. Since that win, Carolina is 5-0 in close games.

The more veteran 49ers now come into this divisional battle on the heels of winning two consecutive games with a field goal on the last play, also winning at Arizona to close out the regular season on a game-winning kick by Phil Dawson.

These two teams are somewhat of a mirror image. On offense they each have athletic quarterbacks who can run or pass, Carolina with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft in Cam Newton and San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick, the No. 36 player selected in the same draft.

On defense each team has great linebackers led by second-year phenomenon Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis for the Panthers, while the 49ers have Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith.

After their regular-season game, Newton acknowledged the importance of that win at that time.

"This game is a maturity jump for us, because in the past what I've been a part of, we've been somewhat uncertain of how we will turn out in these types of games," Newton said. "We needed that type of game, just to be in a dog fight, in somewhat of a barnburner, to show what type of team this really is."

One of the big early keys will be how Newton performs out of the gate in his first career playoff game.

"This is going to be a new venture for me, and I'm going to try to make the most of it," Newton said during the team's bye week. "We have to worry about ourselves first. I feel as if when we're playing at our best, there's really no team that can stop us."

SAN DIEGO AT DENVER

4:40 p.m. ET

Denver (13-3) is the top seed in the AFC, but the West division rivals split the regular-season matchups, including the Chargers' 27-20 victory at Mile High.

The Chargers and Broncos are original members of the American Football League from its 1960 startup. This will be the first time the two teams have met in the postseason when they kick off at 4:40 p.m. ET at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium.

"We know them, they know us, personnel-wise," said Chargers safety Eric Weddle. "It's going to be a great game and great battle. We held them to 28 and 20 points in both games. You never know. It could be a shootout, or it could be a low-scoring game. That's the great thing about the playoffs."

The Broncos set an NFL record with 606 points during the regular season and quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both single-season league records.

During the two-week break, coach John Fox and the Broncos received good news -- wide receiver Wes Welker was cleared after missing the final three games of the regular season with a concussion, including the second San Diego game -- but Denver could be forgiven if it was less than excited about drawing the Chargers again.

It's not just that the Broncos lost at home to them earlier this month; it's that they have lost six of their past eight games to the Chargers in Denver.

Moreover, San Diego is 2-0 against Manning in the playoffs -- both when he was with the Indianapolis Colts. Manning has eight one-and-done postseason appearances. That includes a 38-35 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens at home to end last season.