NFL playoffs: everything you need to know about Super Wild Card Weekend
The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with the six Wild Card games being played Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Here’s what you need to know.
NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend kicks off this weekend! The first playoff games of the post season begin on Saturday with two games, followed by three on Sunday, and one on Monday. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles secured the top seed in their conferences so they’ll get to rest this weekend. Let’s take a look at the other 12 teams playing this weekend.
Saturday, January 14
No. 7 Seattle Seahawks at No. 2 San Francisco 49ers, 4:30 p.m. ET
The weekend kicks off with NFC West rivals San Francisco 49ers hosting the Seattle Seahawks. The Niners have already beaten the Seahawks twice in the regular season (a combined 48-20) and are the favorites to win the playoff game as well. NFC West champions, the 49ers are currently on a 10-game winning streak, six of which were played with their third-string quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy has completed 110-of-161 pass attempts for 1,308 yards and 13 touchdowns since his first game in Week 13. The Seahawks have Geno Smith at quarterback and he started off the season by setting several franchise passing records. The Niners defense will be all over him, though.
Prediction: 49ers win
No. 5 LA Chargers at No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars, 8:15 p.m. ET
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert and Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence will both be playing in their first-ever NFL playoff game on Saturday. The Jaguars dominated the Chargers in the regular season, beating them 38-10 in Los Angeles. The Chargers have been up and down all season, but they have all the tools to beat the Jaguars, notably Austin Ekeler, the NFL’s lead touchdown scorer. But the Jaguars have home-field advantage and Lawrence shouldn’t be underestimated either. In his second NFL season under the guidance of Doug Pederson, Lawrence has become the quarterback with the second-best completion percentage (69.7%), the third-best passer rating (104.6), and the eighth-best total QBR (63.5) since November.
Prediction: Chargers win
Sunday, January 15
No. 7 Miami Dolphins at No. 2 Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m. ET
These divisional rivals went 1-1 in the regular season with the Dolphins beating the Bills 21-19 at home and the Bills beating Dolphins 32-29 at home. Both close games won by the home team. And yet, the Dolphins are the big underdogs in this game. That’s mostly due to the fact that Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has just been ruled out for the game. That leaves either rookie Skylar Thompson or veteran Teddy Bridgewater to start for Miami, neither of whom have what it takes to go up against the Bills. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is throwing touchdowns galore lately, avoiding pressure from defenses and making impressive passes. Last year in the Bills’ two playoff games, Allen threw nine touchdown passes with no interceptions.
Prediction: Bills win
No. 6 New York Giants at No. 3 Minnesota Vikings, 4:30 p.m. ET
The Vikings’ season has been WILD this year. They won so many close games, they are in the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Of their 13 total wins, 11 of them were won by a single score. In Week 16, they had one of those games against the Giants, beating them by a 61-yard walk-off field goal by Greg Joseph. Now, the Giants are playing Minnesota on the road, which will be even tougher. It will be a close game. If the Vikings keep it close all game and rely on Kirk Cousins to make those passes to Justin Jefferson in the final minutes, they may not get so lucky this time. The Giants haven’t exactly been dominant this season either, but quarterback Daniel Jones will be playing for a new contract in this, his first-ever NFL playoff game.
Prediction: Vikings win
No. 6 Baltimore Ravens at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals, 8:15 p.m. ET
The result of this game will largely depend on whether or not Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is okay to play. Since he’s been out with a knee injury, the Ravens have lost three of five games. If the Bengals are up against backup Anthony Brown or Tyler Huntley, they should have a pretty easy day. This will be the first time these two AFC North rivals have ever met in the playoffs, and Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been on fire lately. The Bengals have looked very much like the team that went to the Super Bowl last year, ending the season with eight straight wins (not including the canceled Bengals-Bills game in Week 17). When they played the Ravens last week, they clobbered them 27-16.
Prediction: Bengals win
Monday, January 16
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:15 p.m. ET
The 8-9 Buccaneers are the only team in the playoffs who have a losing record. They managed to win the terrible NFC South and will host the Cowboys on Monday to end the Wild Card weekend. They beat the Cowboys in Week 1, 19-3, but the Cowboys have since gone 8-1 at home and 4-4 on the road. They are still the favorites against Tampa Bay though. This has been Bucs quarterback Tom Brady’s worst season yet, but he has managed to beat the Cowboys in every single post season matchup he’s had against them (7-0). Prescott injured his thumb in that game against the Bucs Week 1, but since he’s been back, Dallas has averaged more points per game than any other NFL team. Their defense will be key against Brady, who struggles against the pass rush and is playing with a roughed-up offensive line. If Prescott and company can get their act together, the Cowboys should be able to pull off their first playoff road game since 1992.
Prediction: Cowboys win