Next week, Pagano goes up against former boss John Harbaugh.
"I love his family, and he's one of my closest personal friends in coaching," Harbaugh said. "What he's been through is phenomenal, but we're all competitors so that gets set aside."
Houston beat Cincinnati in the opening round of last year's playoffs.
"I think it will be good," said Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who grew up in suburban Houston. "We played there last year and know the atmosphere and what it's going to be like. The experience last year will definitely help us."
The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are out of contention. When Chicago beat Detroit 26-24, the Giants (9-7) were eliminated, even though they routed Philadelphia 42-7.
"It hurts," said Eli Manning. "Each year you want to make the playoffs to give yourself an opportunity to win a championship; 9-7 last year was good enough. It wasn't good enough this year and we knew it wouldn't be."
Minnesota's win eliminated Chicago.
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