By Brad Tuttle
Updated: January 5, 2019 3:16 PM ET
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The 2019 NFL playoffs kick off this weekend, with two Wild Card round games on Saturday, January 5: Colts vs. Texans and Seahawks vs. Cowboys.

Both NFL playoff games on Saturday are expected to be close: The Wild Card betting odds indicate that the Texans and Cowboys — the home teams in both games — are favored to win, but only by a margin of 2 points or less.

The NFL playoff games this weekend are being broadcast nationally on a mix of channels: CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC, and ESPN. There are plenty of ways to watch the NFL playoffs — online or on TV — for free, and you can even live stream the NFL playoff game for free that’s airing on the pay channel ESPN (Colts vs. Texans).

Here’s all the info you need for how to watch the NFL playoffs for free in 2019.

When Do the NFL Playoff Games Start Today?

What channel are the NFL playoffs on during Wild Card weekend, and when do the games start? Here’s the NFL playoff schedule for Saturday, January 5:

• Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans, 4:35 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN
• Seattle Seahawks vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m. ET on Fox

And here are the NFL playoff game times for Sunday, January 6:

• Los Angeles Chargers vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS
• Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears, 4:40 p.m. ET on NBC

If you have cable or another pay TV service that includes broadcast networks (and ESPN) in your package, it’s easy to watch the NFL games this weekend. All you need to do is find the appropriate channel and tune in. But there are also plenty of options to watch the NFL playoffs for free if you don’t have cable.

How to Watch the Seahawks vs. Cowboys Game for Free

Free, over-the-air networks have the TV broadcasts for Colts vs. Texans and Seahawks vs. Cowboys games today, as well as Chargers vs. Ravens and Eagles vs. Bears on Sunday.

You don’t need cable to watch these NFL playoff games for free on TV. All you need in most of the country is a digital antenna.

You can buy a decent HDTV antenna for around $25. Once it’s connected to your TV, it will function similarly to old-fashion “rabbit ears” antennas, allowing you to watch unlimited local broadcasts of major free networks, including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS, in hi-def.

In most of the country, viewers can tune in all the major networks with a basic digital antenna, though which broadcast TV channels you get will vary based on the strength of the antenna, where you live, and where the antenna is positioned in your home. You may have to move your antenna around a bit to see where the signal is strongest for Fox, CBS, NBC, and other local channels.

How to Live Stream the NFL Playoffs for Free

The NFL App and Yahoo Sports mobile app allow users to watch nationally broadcast NFL games on a phone (and in some cases, a tablet). That means you can use these apps to watch the 2019 NFL playoffs in their entirety — including the Colts vs. Texans game, airing on ABC and ESPN — along with the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 3.

The NFL App and Yahoo Sports app are free to download, and the NFL game live streams are free as well. Take note, however, that the free live streams are available only on smartphones and tablets. So you can’t use these apps to screencast games to your TV, or to watch the NFL playoffs on any other kind of (larger) screen, such as a laptop or smart TV. Also, in some cases, the live streams may not work when you’re connected to Wi-Fi, so you may have to use up data in order to watch NFL games on your phone.

How to Watch the NFL Playoffs Online for Free

If you’re struggling to figure out a way to watch one or more NFL playoff games online for free during Wild Card weekend, consider registering for a free trial with a streaming TV service that includes the channels you need in its packages.

How does streaming TV work? For those unfamiliar with this increasingly popular alternative to cable, streaming TV services bundle together dozens of pay channels for subscribers, very similarly to cable. However, live streaming TV subscribers watch all of their content on connected devices, rather than watching channels only on TV. Streaming TV packages generally cost less than cable, and come with fewer fees as well.

In most of the country, the streaming TV services Fubo TV, Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV include local broadcasts of channels like CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC in their packages.

Hulu Live, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, and another service, Sling TV, also include ESPN in certain basic packages. Sling TV also comes with local NBC and Fox broadcasts in select markets. (Fubo TV, on the other hand, does not include ESPN in any streaming TV packages.)

How much does streaming TV cost? And what’s the best live streaming TV service? Sling TV is the cheapest streaming TV service that includes ESPN, starting at $25 per month. The other streaming TV options cited above start at about $40 per month. The list of channels and amenities included with each service varies widely, so it’s best to shop around and look closely at the fine print to figure out which streaming TV service is best for you.

Luckily, all streaming TV services give free trials that last about a week for new subscribers. So, if you want to watch the NFL playoffs online for free this weekend, you could sign up for a new subscription and catch all the Wild Card weekend games without paying a dime.

You’d then have the rest of the week to try out the service before being charged. Just remember that if you ultimately decide you do not want to become a paying subscriber, you must cancel before the free-trial period ends. If you miss the deadline, you’ll be charged in full for the first month.

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