Ready for NFL Super Wild Card Weekend? See the schedule here
In what has been a crazy year for sports, the NFL playoffs are among us. In the build up to the biggest sporting event on the planet, the remaining teams gear up for a mad dash for the finish, starting with the NFL Wild Card Weekend, ending with the Lombardi Trophy and an unprecedented Super Bowl 55.
While this year’s playoffs are different from past years in more ways than one, it’s all the same to the players & coaches. Beyond a pandemic prohibiting or reducing the number of fans in the stadium, an additional playoff spot for each conference brings the total teams from twelve to fourteen – adding an extra layer of excitement. However, it neither makes the playoffs less important or stressful for the teams looking to bring home a trophy to cap off a difficult season.
No longer are the top two teams shielded from NFL Wild Card Weekend. Only the No. 1 seed in each conference will automatically move to the divisional rounds, leaving twelve teams to fight it out for six spots. With two additional games, the weekend will be packed full of football. With plenty to watch, here is a complete rundown of the schedule.
Saturday Wild Card games
No. 2 Buffalo Bills vs. No. 7 Indianapolis Colts – CBS 1:09 p.m. ET
AFC East champions Buffalo Bills will take on the seventh-ranked Indianapolis Colts to open NFL Wild Card Weekend. The Bills are the first team since 2008 to beat the New England Patriots for the division title. It also happened to be the season where Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was out for the entire season. The last team to win the division before the Brady era was in 2000, the same year New England drafted Brady.
Bill’s can’t be more thrilled to be in the playoffs, let alone as division champions. They’ve slowly improved over the last five years – making it to the playoffs twice during the previous five years. However, the Indianapolis Colts are also on the incline and celebrating a win in a highly contested division. Only a field goal stood between the Colts and the division title.
Both teams are led by underrated quarterbacks and have a lot to prove this postseason. Buffalo’s third-year starter Josh Allen looks to make a name for himself with a dominant postseason run. In contrast, Indianapolis’s quarterback Philip Rivers looks to add a Super Bowl Ring to his lengthy seventeen-year career.
While both teams have incredible talent on both sides of the ball, expect the Bills to come out on top. It’ll be the best game of the day, and it’s a great way to open the NFL Wild Card Weekend.
No. 3 Seattle Seahawks vs. No. 6 Los Angeles Rams – FOX 4:40 p.m. ET
In the middle of the season, it appeared the Seattle Seahawks & Los Angeles Rams would slug it out in week 17 to decide the NFC West much like the AFC South. However, the Rams’s monumental steps backward moved them out of the top spot forcing them to fight for a playoff spot in week 17.
The Rams look to prove their losses to the New York Jets in week 15 and Seattle in week 16 were flukes. They’re back on track for a deep playoff run. Meanwhile, Seattle wavered in the middle of the season. Per head coach Pete Carol’s comments, the team got back to basics and was perfect down the stretch.
The Rams will have a tough decision before Saturday’s game. Quarterback Jared Goff injured his thumb against Seattle in week 16 and had surgery to repair it. Head coach, Sean McVay, told reporters Goff’s “coming along well,” but is uncertain if he’ll get the start. Seattle is also handling a significant injury heading into Saturday. Their star safety Jamal Adams is battling a shoulder injury and will be a game-time decision.
No. 4 Washington Football Team vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NBC 8:15 p.m. ET
If it weren’t for the dumb rule that every division champion gets a playoff spot, the Washington Football Team wouldn’t be here, and we would have a way better game to watch.
If you choose to watch this abomination of a football game and expect blow out, you’re either a masochist or a fan of either team. However, if Washington can manage an upset, it furthers Alex Smith’s legend & his case for comeback player of the year and naming the award after him.
Sunday Wild Card games
No. 4 Tennessee Titans vs. No. 5 Baltimore Ravens – ESPN/ABC 1:05 p.m. ET
After a division title and early playoffs loss last season, the Baltimore Ravens have declined this season. It doesn’t help that their success last season was assisted by their divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers losing their franchise quarterback for the season. However, AFC North was a football powerhouse with three out of the four teams making the playoffs.
The Tennessee Titans bounced the Ravens last season, upsetting the No. 1 seed in the divisional round. This year the Titans have the higher seed and look to bounce Baltimore out of the playoffs again. However, as both offenses lead the league, especially in rushing, the Titans defense has put up some poor performances, ranking near the bottom of the league.
Can the Ravens capitalize on Tennessee’s poor defense and pull off an upset, returning the favor from last season? NFL Analysts & Las Vegas seem to think so. FanDuel has the spread at “BAL: -3.5,” with ESPN’s matchup predictor predicting a 63% chance Baltimore wins the game.
No. 2 New Orleans Saints vs. No. 7 Chicago Bears – CBS 4:40 p.m. ET
Chicago looked like hot garbage heading into their bye week. They lost their previous four games before the bye week, continuing the losing streak for an additional two weeks. However, they took New Orleans into overtime in a Week 8 matchup, so Chicago staying competitive in the game isn’t out of the question.
The NFC is the most competitive at the top, but it’s not unlikely an upset will happen. However, the New Orleans Saints will easily control this game, but it doesn’t mean Chicago won’t give them a run for their money.
Chicago’s Mitchel Trubisky seems to have gained control of the offense leading the team to a spectacular run down the stretch. While he couldn’t pull out an upset in week 17, he completed 79% of his passes for 252 yards & an interception. However, his exceptional play doesn’t excuse Chicago’s 1-6 record against playoff teams in the regular season.
No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. No. 6 Cleveland Browns – NBC 8:15 p.m. ET
The 2020 playoffs mark the Cleveland Browns’s first playoff appearance since 2002. The Browns managed to upset the division champions Pittsburgh Steelers in week 17, drawing them again in the NFL Wild Card round.
The Steelers looked unstoppable behind one of the best defenses in the league and a prolific offense. However, they fell apart down the stretch going 1-4 in the final five games. You can’t blame Pittsburgh for the week 17 loss because they rested Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger behind center for the third matchup against Cleveland expects the game to look a lot different a second week in a row.