When the NFL expanded the playoffs last season for the first time since 1990, adding a third wild card team in each conference, it deemed what we now know as, “Super Wild Card Weekend.”
Last season featured three playoff games on Saturday and Sunday with both the number-one seeded teams in each conference getting a bye. This year, there will be two games on Saturday, three on Sunday, and one on Monday night to end the first round of the playoffs. The Titans and the Packers each have a bye this weekend, as each team is the number one seed in their conference. Here’s a quick preview of each game this weekend:
Saturday, January 15th
Super Wild Card weekend will kick off with the AFC North Champs, Bengals (10-7) hosting the Raiders (10-7.) This will be both Joe Burrow and Derek Carr‘s first career playoff game. The two teams met in week 11 which resulted in a 32-13 victory for the Bengals, led by Joe Mixon’s 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Heading into their matchup, the Raiders have won four straight, going from 6-7 to finishing 10-7. Prior to last week’s loss to the Browns, the Bengals had won three straight, and Burrow and rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase have built a strong connection with one another. The home team Bengals are favorited by 5.5 points and have all the confidence heading into this matchup with their week 11 victory over the Raiders.
Saturday’s doubleheader will conclude with the AFC East Champs, Bills (11-6) hosting the New England Patriots (10-7.) This will be the third matchup between the two teams as they split the season series one apiece. The Patriots defeated Buffalo in week 13, 14-10, at Buffalo in a game that was very windy where quarterback Mac Jones only threw three times. Three weeks later, the Bills got their revenge, beating the Patriots in New England, 33-21 led by three passing touchdowns from Josh Allen. Saturday’s showdown will be the biggest of the three games played between these AFC East rivals and the winner will get one step closer to the Super Bowl.
Sunday, January 16th
The first of Sunday’s three games will feature the reigning champs, Buccaneers (13-4) hosting the Philadelphia Eagles (9-8.) The Buccaneers are looking to repeat and their quest begins with hosting the underdog mentality, Eagles. Tom Brady is playing arguably the best football of his carer as he set personal career-highs in passing yards, completions, and game-winning drives. Mike Evans also eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the eighth time in his career in his first eight seasons (first receiver to do so.) Meanwhile, for the Eagles, this will be their first playoff appearance with head coach, Nick Sirianni in his first season. Quarterback Jalen Hurts will also be making his first career playoff start. The Bucs are a four-to-one favorite currently and have all the experience over the Eagles.
The second game of three on Sunday features the NFC East Champs, Cowboys, hosting the San Francisco 49ers. Dallas won the NFC East a few weeks ago and ended up with the third seed in the NFC. For the 49ers, they barely got into the playoffs and sealed an overtime victory over their division-rival Rams in their season finale to clinch a spot. The Cowboys were only 5-4 against winning teams this season and 7-1 against teams with losing records. The 49ers sat at one point 3-5, and went on to win seven of their last nine games, catching a hot streak at the right time. Coming into this game, Dallas sits at just a three-point home favorite over the 49ers, and this game is probably the best matchup this weekend.
Saturday’s action will conclude with the Chiefs hosting the Steelers. Let’s be honest, it’s quite amazing that the Steelers made the playoffs after the Jaguars beat the Colts and after the Raiders-Chargers game didn’t end in a tie after it went into overtime. Nevertheless, they are presented with the challenge of facing the Chiefs again. In their week 16 matchup, the Chiefs dominated the Steelers, 36-10. The Chiefs are the biggest favorite this week, with a 12.5 point spread over the Steelers and all signs point to them ending Ben Roethlisberger’s career. The Chiefs have also won eight of their last nine games including an eight-game win streak after starting the season 2-3. If Pittsburgh is able to pull off the upset, it will be one of the biggest upsets in Wild Card weekend history. With this being the playoffs, we know anything can happen and it’s any given Sunday for any team.
Monday, January 17th
Super Wild Card weekend concludes with a Monday Night matchup between NFC West rivals, Rams and Cardinals. This will be the third matchup between the two teams this season with the series split, 1-1. The Cardinals took the first game in week four with a 37-20 victory. Kyler Murray threw for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running back James Conner added two touchdowns on the ground. Chase Edmonds had a big game. for the Cards rushing for 250 yards. Wide-receiver Deandre Hopkins played this game, only catching the ball four times for 67 yards. Hopkins won’t play Monday night due to a knee injury. In their week 14 rematch, the Rams edged the Cardinals out, 30-23. Murray had a ton of yards (444 total) but the Rams defense was disruptive with turnovers (two interceptions) and sacked Murray four times, three of them coming from Aaron Donald. The Rams will be with running back Cam Akers in this matchup as he made his season debut a week ago after tearing his Achilles just a little over five months ago.
Main Credit Image
Thanks for reading along on my Super Wild Card weekend preview. Follow me on Twitter @RobGullo97 and @OTH_Football page for more NFL news and content!