NFL Wild Card Weekend: All you need to know
The NFL Playoffs are finally here. On Saturday night, the San Francisco 49ers and Jaguars punched their tickets to the divisional round. By Monday night, four more teams will join them and be one step closer to the NFL’s biggest stage. Here’s what to expect on Sunday and Monday:
Sunday begins with the Bills hosting the AFC East rival Dolphins. Led by star quarterback Josh Allen, the No. 2 Bills are the heavy favorites, especially now that Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has officially been ruled out.
The two teams have already met twice this season, with the series tied 1-1. In the first game, the Dolphins walked away with a win largely due to careless turnovers and mistakes made by the Bills. The second time, the Bills rallied in the final minutes to walk away with a 32-29 victory.
In both games, Allen was excellent, throwing for a total of 704 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. What’s worth noting is that the Bills controlled their own destiny in both of those games.
In both competitions, they were clearly the better team, regardless of whether they played like him or not. If they show up this week, play to their full potential and eliminate the slow mistakes, they should have no trouble closing out a win.
Sunday’s four o’clock proposal is full of firsts. First-year coach Brian Daboll and the Giants will travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings. Quarterback Daniel Jones will make his first career playoff start and it will be the team’s first playoff appearance in six seasons.
While the Giants are road underdogs, they are well-equipped to compete with, or even beat, the NFC North champions. The two teams met on Christmas Eve in a game that resulted in a Justin Tucker field goal. Throughout the season, many of the Vikings’ other victories were decided by a single score. This week’s contest is likely to go down to the wire as well.
If the Giants manage to walk away with a win and out of the Wild Card stage, the buck will likely stop there. Their chances of beating the 49ers or the Eagles in the next round are much slimmer. The Vikings are more likely to make a deeper postseason run if they get past the first round, but the Giants shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Ravens and Bengals will meet for the second straight week and third time this season on Sunday night. The division rivals split the regular season series, with each winning at home.
This time, Baltimore will be without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has not played since Dec. 4. Backup Tyler Huntley is listed as a game-time decision. Playing without a QB1 is always a challenge; will add support to the defense and running game to take care of business. The Ravens’ best shot at victory is to gain momentum early and avoid costly costly deficits.
The Bengals are the clear favorite, with the best record and playing at home with a mostly healthy roster. Just last season, they made it all the way to the Super Bowl. They beat the Raiders, Titans and Chiefs, only to fall to the Rams in the finals.
The Ravens haven’t been to the playoffs since 2020, when they lost to the Bills in the AFC divisional round. Despite Cincinnati’s lead, anything can happen in a playoff game between the division rivals. These opponents know each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well and will use it to their advantage.
Wild Card Weekend will conclude with a primetime battle between the Bucs and Cowboys.
Dallas finished the regular season with a 12-5 record, especially impressive considering they played a significant stretch without veteran quarterback Dak Prescott. Tampa Bay failed to overcome a disappointing regular season and finished with a losing record of 8-9, but still managed to emerge NFC South champions.
While the Cowboys are the better team on paper, they have the disadvantage of playing on the road. The last time Dallas won a road playoff game was 30 years ago; since then, they’ve lost all eight postseason games.
Additionally, the Buccaneers have the “X” factor: Tom Brady. The veteran signal-caller enters this playoff stretch with the most games started by a quarterback, wins by a rookie quarterback, Super Bowl titles and Super Bowl MVP. In his career against the Cowboys, he is a perfect 7-0.
A lights-out performance from Brady could be enough to power this Bucs team to victory.
Here’s how to catch these teams and others across the league in action, from wherever you are.
Australia: NFL Game Pass, ESPN, 7Plus
Brazil: NFL Game Pass, ESPN
Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Game Pass on DAZN
Germany: NFL Game Pass, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN
Mexico: NFL Game Pass, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky Sports
UK: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports, ITV, Channel 5
US: NFL Game Pass, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime