For the first time in my life, I'm writing an NFL playoff preview blog as a fantasy championship. I know the struggles of fighting and clawing all season for a chance at the ship only to be have your heartbroken along the way. This year I finally got to the mountain top. The eventual Super Bowl winner might not even be playing this weekend, but the past two champs played in the Wild Card Round.
This year, every Wild Card Weekend matchup is a rematch from the regular season, so all these matchups have a little added backstory going in (which I love as a narrative guy). Let's take a look what's in store for SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND!!
4:30 p.m. (ET) (7) Seattle Seahawks at (2) San Francisco 49ers (FOX, FOX Deportes)
The 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL. They haven't lost since week 7. Pound for pound, they may have the most talented roster in the league. Brock Purdy's been a great story (I'm still waiting for the wheels to fall off), and he's playing well as Mr. Irrelevant. I just have this weird feeling the Seahawks will pull off a major upset. I love this 49ers roster, and if they get past Seattle, as most are expecting, I could see them winning the NFC, they're that good, but these are two teams that know each other well. Divisional matchups in the playoffs are the ultimate X-factor. Sure, the 49ers are 2-0 vs. Seattle this year and are a much better team across the board, but it's tough to beat an opponent three times in one season. Seattle's defense is ass, but they have enough playmakers on offense to make it interesting. You know Big Ben was 14-0 his rookie year and got killed by the Pats in the playoffs. At only 5-0, it wouldn't shock me to see the clock strike midnight for Brock (I've only seen him play on redzone).
I wanted the Lions to get the final playoff spot, but I'm happy for Seattle. They've been a remarkable story this season. I thought they'd be a 3 or 4-win team, but with Geno Smith's Renaissance and a great young running back in Kenneth Walker III, they've been a pleasant surprise. They've cooled off going from 6-3 to 9-8, but I respect Pete Carroll. Of course, it's fun to shit on him for Super Bowl 49, but he's a future Hall of Fame coach vs. Kyle Shanahan, who always finds a way to blow it. Don't forget Pete's 7-9 Seahawks beat the defending champion Saints in 2010. The Hawks have a chip on their shoulder and have already won the Russ trade, but imagine if they added a playoff win to that storyline?? I think they do with the shaky Jason Myers hitting a walk-off winner. I am putting my money where my mouth is and peppering Seahawks ML.
8:15 p.m. (ET) (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (4) Jacksonville Jaguars (NBC, Peacock, Universo)
I love this matchup and am bummed we won't see Mike Williams on the field since Brandon Staley is an awful coach. These two teams met early in week 3, but that doesn't mean shit here. James Robinson rushed for 100 yards and a TD. The Chargers were missing everybody. I'm not putting much stock into that game.
What I am putting stock into is the Jaguars' swag and the Chargers' history of Charging. Losing Mike Williams in a meaningless game is so fucking Chargers it hurts. The should-still-be-in-San-Diego Chargers are a fun team, but Brandon Staley is a bottom-five coach in the NFL, and he'll end up leaving 3-10 points on the field. The Chargers should win, they're a way more talented roster, but Duuuuval's will be rocking. Trevor Lawrence has never lost a football game played on a Saturday. That's enough for me. Doug Pederson could easily be Coach of the Year, but I think Daboll's gonna take it home.
1:00 p.m. (ET) (7) Miami Dolphins at (2) Buffalo Bills (CBS, Paramount+)
I'm not gonna waste your time here. Sure, it's a divisional matchup, and the Dolphins did beat the Bills in Miami in week 4 and kept things close in Buffalo, but these Bills are playing with purpose. They might go all the way for Damar. Those two kickoff return TDs against the Pats was some Disney-ass shit.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are on their 3rd string QB. The line should be Bills -20. Josh Allen loves to turn the ball over, so if he turns it over five times, Miami may have a chance, but the last time the Dolphins won a playoff game, the Twin Towers were still intact.
The Dolphins started 3-0, lost 3 straight, won 5 in a row, lost 5 straight, and won week 18 to steal the 7 seed. When they lose this game it'll make a pretty sweet pattern. WWWLLLWWWWWLLLLLWL
4:30 p.m. (ET) (6) New York Giants at (3) Minnesota Vikings (FOX, FOX Deportes)
This matchup of bad-good teams should be fun; they played a nail-bitter on Christmas Eve Day that ended on a 61-yard walk-off. I don't think the Giants have any chance to go on a deep run, but they could win this game because the Vikings are quite possibly the most fraudulent team in NFL history (13-4 with a -3 point differential). Minnesota's defense is terrible, but luckily for them, the Giants aren't explosive. But if it's like 17-3 Vikings in the 2nd quarter, it could be game over.
I'm expecting a close, grind-it-out type of game. This could be the last time Danny Dimes dons a G-men uniform, but I think he does just enough to fight another week (they should resign him regardless). Kirko Cousins is lucky this game isn't in prime time because if it were, it'd be like Giants -4.5. I originally picked Vikings and even have a long shot future for them to win the NFC, but I'm drinking the Giant kool-aid for my guy Chizo!! This is the square upset that everybody has and I'm on it too.
8:15 p.m. (ET) (6) Baltimore Ravens at (3) Cincinnati Bengals (NBC, Peacock, Telemundo)
Another divisional rematch, but if Lamar is out there's no point of wasting any of our time writing about it. I low key think Cincy is gonna win it all. I might pepper a future on them, but I am a little worried about how banged up their o-line is. I also don't think Zac Taylor is a good coach. He's just there, it doesn't feel like he elevates this loaded roster.
Monday Night Football:
8:15 p.m. (ET) (5) Dallas Cowboys at (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ESPN/ABC, ESPN2-Manningcast, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes)
The Bucs have no business being in the playoffs. They played with their food all season long, but 8-9 was enough to clinch the NFC South. The Cowboys have been the same team since the end of the triplets. They are allergic to playoff success, even with 10-13 wins. I don't believe in Dak, and while the Bucs fucking suck, Tom Brady does not. It's funny we think he's fallen off when his numbers this year were better than Peyton Manning's 08 MVP season (although that's one of the least-deserved MVPs in the history of professional sports). TB12 is undefeated against the Cowboys, and while Brady's lost in the playoffs as an undefeated QB in the past, he gets it done in what ends up being the final win of his Bucs tenure.