After a thrilling Week 18, fans were treated to even more excitement with the wild card weekend where six action-packed games took place with a few surprises taking place.
The first wild card game on Saturday involved the San Francisco 49ers against Seattle Seahawks, where the 49ers advanced to the next stage with a comfortable looking 41-23 win. However, it was the Seahawks who went into halftime with the lead after a second quarter that gave them a one-point lead when they put 17 points on the scoreboard.
Later in the night, the Jacksonville Jaguars produced one of the most stunning comebacks in playoff history, never mind in a wild card game, after recovering from 27-0 down to win 31-30 over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers have only themselves to blame for melting down in a wild card game that was entirely in their hands. Allowing the Jaguars to find their way back and eventually outscore them.
On Sunday, the Buffalo Bills held off a stiff fight from the Miami Dolphins to win their wild card game 34-31 in a contest full of more drama than anyone could have expected. While the Minnesota Vikings fell to a 31-24 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants on the same day.
The last wild card game of the day saw the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens, their divisional rivals, 24-17 after coming back despite being 10-9 down going into the second half. It could’ve been a completely different game though with the Ravens a yard away from scoring a touchdown before Tyler Huntley was dispossessed by Logan Wilson. This gave Sam Hubbard the opportunity to claim possession before he ran 98 yards to score a record-breaking touchdown.
Monday was the last day of the wild card matchups, where the Dallas Cowboys had minimal problem eliminating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-14.
The full wild card matchup results looked like this:
- Seattle Seahawks 23 @ 41 San Francisco 49ers
- Los Angeles Chargers 30 @ 31 Jacksonville Jaguars
- Miami Dolphins 31 @ 34 Buffalo Bills
- New York Giants 31 @ 24 Minnesota Vikings
- Baltimore Ravens 17 @ 24 Cincinnati Bengals
- Dallas Cowboys 31 @ 14 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Moving onto the Divisional Round
Now the wild card round is complete, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs return to action following their first-round byes after earning the top seed in the regular season.
The divisional round matchups take place on January 21 and 22:
- Jacksonville Jaguars (4) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1)
- New York Giants (6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1)
- Cincinnati Bengals (3) @ Buffalo Bills (2)
- Dallas Cowboys (5) @ San Francisco 49ers (2)
Let us take a quick look at each of the upcoming games:
Jaguars @ Chiefs
The Chiefs will face the Jaguars at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday in the first AFC divisional round match. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will be fresh from a two-week break after earning the top seed in the regular season. The Chiefs hope the extended preparation period will help them be in fine shape for the AFC clash. They enter this game from a five-match winning streak.
On the other hand, the Jaguars enter this game full of confidence after registering a stunning comeback in their wild card game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Jaguars looked vulnerable against the Chargers, who made them trail 27-0 by halftime. But their never-say-die attitude helped them turn the tables and come out on top after the final whistle. However, the Jaguars hope to make things easier this time, considering the quality of their opponent.
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was in great form in this game and hoped to be in the same shape against the top-seeded Chiefs. However, the Chiefs are the overall favourites for the competition, and so we fully expect them to dispatch the Jaguars to make it through to the next round.
Giants @ Eagles
The Lincoln Financial Field will be the venue for the other Saturday game involving the hosts Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. This season, the weekend game will be the third meeting between the NFC East teams. The Eagles have won 70-38 in the two previous matchups, and the Giants will be hoping for a third-time lucky but understand their opponent’s strength.
The Eagles hope the two-week rest will enable Jalen Hurts to be fully fit for the clash. His sprained shoulder was a problem during the Week 18 match, where he admitted to playing through pain. He missed two games before playing the final game of the regular season.
If the Eagles have a full-strength roster, we expect them fully to go through to the next round with a third victory over the Giants this season.
Bengals @ Bills
This game attracts a lot of interest for two reasons. Firstly, it sees last year’s finalists take on this year’s second favourite to win the Super Bowl championship. The second reason is because of the events of the last encounter between these two teams, which ended prematurely after the Bills’ Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest. Hamlin collided with the Bengals’ Tee Higgins, which caused him to be hospitalised for several days in critical condition.
Both teams dug deep to register narrow wins in the playoff, and each will be looking to settle Week 17’s unfinished business. There is no better place to do it than in the playoffs. The Bills’ Josh Allen will face off with the Bengals’ Joe Burrow. Of the two, Allen has a 1-0 record over the Bengals this season and hopes to record a double.
This could well be the closest game of all the Divisional Round matchups. Personally, we think that the Bengals will be able to cause a slight upset. They were leading in the Week 17 game before it was halted, and not only will their wild card win give them confidence, they will want to correct last year’s result in the Super Bowl game and go one step further this year.
Cowboys @ 49ers
The Levis Stadium will be the home of the last divisional round match, where the San Francisco 49ers will host the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy made four touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks in their wild card game, making him the first rookie quarterback to do it in a playoff match.
On their part, the Cowboys have been very erratic in the past few weeks of the regular season. In some games, they have played like the best team in the NFL but as the worst in others. They showed their top class when they swept off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card playoff matchup over the weekend.
Dallas’s defence was superb against the Buccaneer’s offence, while quarterback Dak Prescott was in top form, registering five touchdowns with four on passes. Prescott’s 15 interceptions in 12 regular season games.
We feel the 49ers could edge this game, and considering that rookie Brook Purdy who is our shout for rookie of the season hasn’t lost a game he has started this season, we don’t expect this to be the game where that record ends.
Check out more coverage like this in our American Football section.