It all comes down to winning or going home.
The National Football League Enter a one-way road. 14 teams remain with aspirations to win the Vince Lombari trophyfive of those organizations (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Jacksonville and Los Angeles Chargers)fighting to win the Super Bowl for the first time in its history.
In this postseason, seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend are new as they missed the playoffs a year ago: Baltimore, Jacksonville, LA Chargers, Miami, Minnesota, NY Giants, and Seattle. Two of those teams, Jacksonville (AFC South) and Minnesota (NFC North), won their divisions.
In what has been a long-standing tradition, at least four teams each season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to reach the postseason the previous year since 1990.
After consuming 276 regular calendar games, to the 2022 season they only have 13 games left to know who is the new monarch of the league.
For the eighteenth consecutive time, the NFL will not have a two-time champion. The world continues to remember the Patriots as the latest dynasty to do so.
There is every reason to believe that the unprecedented level of close games and comebacks in 2022 will continue in the playoffs. During the season, the average margin of victory was just 9.70 points, the lowest in 90 years, having been 9.13 in 1932.
Although in Las Vegas they expect something different: three of the five Super Wild Card Weekend matches have six or more points difference in their lanes. Las Vegas, like many of us, have been terribly wrong in forecasting results throughout the 18-week calendar.
With opponents looking for whatever slim advantage there is, there are several trends and stats worth keeping an eye on.
This year’s wild card round features a lot of familiarities, as all six games are rematches of the regular season. It is the fifth time since the 1970 merger that this has happened, according to Elias Sports. In fact, three of the matchups are divisional, which means it will be the third time these teams have met each other.
Last season, five of the six Wild Card games were direct rematches.
five teams, San Francisco (10 consecutive wins), cincinnati (eight), Buffalo (seven), Jacksonville (five and Kansas City (five), enter the playoffs with winning streaks of at least five games. That has never happened in a postseason.
Super Wild Card Weekend features two games in which both starting quarterbacks are expected to make their postseason debuts: Geno Smith (Seattle) vs. Brock Purtdy (San Francisco), and Justin Herbert (LA Chargers) vs. Trevor Lawrance (Jacksonville).
The last time a postseason had multiple games in which both quarterbacks made their playoff debuts was in 1986.
For the second time in all NFL time, the wild-card round will be extended by three days, putting the winning team from Monday’s game at a disadvantage by having one less rest day in divisional games.
Seattle at San Francisco (-9.5):
On Saturday afternoon the postseason activity will kick off with an NFC West rivalry.
The San Francisco 49ers, who have not lost since October 23, 2022, when Brock Purdy was only recognized within the league as Mr. Irrelevant, they host the Seattle Seahawksthe last team to get their ticket to the playoffs.
San Francisco seeks to join the 1967 and 1976 Oakland Raiders, 1972 Miami Dolphins, and 2003 and 2007 New England Patriots as Super Bowl teams that entered the postseason with winning streaks of at least 10 games.
San Francisco swept the series this year against Seattle with a differential from +27.
The 49ers have averaged 111.9 rushing yards per game this season, fifth best in the NFL. The Seahawks have allowed an average of 151.1 rushing yards per game this season, third-worst in the NFL.
Geno Smith is bidding to become the first quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2000 to win his first postseason start at least 10 years into his NFL career.. Smith posted a franchise and career high 4,282 passing yards with 30 touchdown passes and a 100.9 rating in 2022.
The 49ers are trying to take down an opponent three times in the same season. That’s happened 14 times in NFL history, most recently during the 2017 playoffs, when New Orleans captured a third win over Carolina, they’ll do without issue.
Seahawks 17-30 49ers
Chargers (-2) at Jaguars:
The Los Angeles Chargers will cross the country to take on Jacksonville, the AFC South champion making their first playoff appearance since the 2017 season (lost in AFC Championship Game).
In the third week of the campaign, the Jaguars defeated the Chargers 38-10.
Since the league’s 1970 merger, Jacksonville (3-14 in 2021) is one of five teams to bounce back from having the league’s worst record to a division crown the following season.. The AFC South champion Jaguars join the 2008 Miami Dolphins, 2004 San Diego Chargers, 1999 Indianapolis Colts and 1975 Baltimore Colts in that group of notable trades.
Justin Herbert’s the Chargers (24 years, 310 days on Saturday) and Trevor Lawrance of the Jaguars (23 years, 100 days) will become the ninth pair of quarterbacks since 1950 to meet in the postseason under 25 years of age.
The Jaguars threw the ball on 68.1 percent of snaps last week, the most in the NFL. The Chargers allowed 11.1 passing yards in Week 18, worst in the NFL.
Chargers 21-24 Jaguars
Dolphins at Bills (-12.5):
Sunday’s tripleheader kicks off with an AFC East game between Miami and Buffalo. The Dolphins won again in Week 3 on home soil, and the Bills returned the favor in mid-December. Both games were close (decided by a total of five points)but Miami has struggled recently (it had lost five in a row before beating the New York Jets last Sunday and will be without its quarterback Tua Tagovailoawho has not left the shock protocol.
Tyreek Hill (1,710 receiving yards) and Jaylen Waddle (1,356) of Miami combined for 3,066 receiving yards, the third-highest total ever achieved by a pair of teammates in a season.
They will face Buffalo’s defensive backs which includes Pro Bowlers, Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer.
The Bills are 18-2 (.900) by converting 55 percent or more of his red zone chances into touchdowns since the 2021 season, the best in the NFL.
The Bills have scored on 42.9 percent of their drives in the first quarter since Week 15, tied for third-best in the NFL. The Dolphins defense has allowed points on 50% of opponents’ first-quarter drives since Week 15, second-worst in the NFL.
In his two playoff games last season, Josh Allen he recorded at least 300 passing yards and four touchdown passes.
Miami 14-30 Bills
Giants at Vikings (-7):
In the NFC, the New York Giants will play Minnesota in Minneapolis for the second time in less than a month. In Week 16, the Vikings won 27-24 thanks to a Greg Joseph’s 61-yard field goal in time expired.
The The Vikings are 7-0 (1,000) when they have the ball longer than their opponent this season, tied for the best place in the NFL. The Giants have allowed an average time of possession of 32 minutes, 38 seconds this season, the highest in the NFL.
The story will be similar, Minnesota will win.
Giants 14-24 Vikings
Ravens at Bengals (-7):
Baltimore and Cincinnati will meet for the second weekend in a row (and third time in total). Rivals from the AFC North split the season series, each winning on their home field, but the victory of The Bengals 27-16 at home last Sunday prevented a coin toss from deciding the location of this gameas it was one of the scenarios outlined in the resolution passed by league owners last Friday as a result of special circumstances created after the Buffalo-Cincinnati Week 17 game was cancelled.
The Ravens have been without Lamar Jackson for a little over a month and it is very likely that the quarterback will not be able to recover from his knee injury.
The Bengals are undefeated (9-0) in leading at the end of the first half this season, tied for the best place in the NFL.
Ravens receivers have seven receiving touchdowns this season, tied for third in the NFL, but without Lamar, things look very difficult.
Ravens 20-28 Bengals
Cowboys (-2) at Buccaneers:
Super Wild Card Weekend concludes with Dallas and Tampa Bay.
These two teams opened the season against each other, a 19-3 Buccaneers victory at AT&T Stadium.
Things have changed a bit since then.
The Cowboys have four more wins than the Bucs, but they still have to fly to Tampa since they’re a wild card team.
Tom Brady has never lost to Dallas (7-0) and the Boys accumulate eight losses playing in someone else’s yard in the postseason.
The 8-9 Bucs are only the fourth team to make the playoffs with a sub-.500 record.
Brady faces a Cowboys team who has only one playoff win since the start of the 2015 season.
Cowboys 20-17 Buccaneers
|Seahawks at 49ers
|49ers-9.5 under 42.5
|Chargers at Jaguars
|Dolphins in Bills
|Giants at Vikings
|Ravens in Bengals
|Cowboys in Buccaneers
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At last! The picks for the NFL Super Wild Card Weekend have arrived