After an entertaining and dramatic finish to the regular season, the NFL will kick off the playoffs with what the league is calling 'Super Wild Card Weekend." An expanded playoff field means there are six wild-card games, instead of the usual four. And there's quite a bit of familiarity in the matchups.
Four of the six games on tap for Super Wild Card Weekend are rematches from the regular season and two of them are divisional pairings, so that means it's Round 3 for those teams. Either way, it should make for an exciting weekend of playoff football while top seeds Kansas City and Green Bay sit back and watch.
On Saturday, Indianapolis and Buffalo start the postseason off in Upstate New York. This matchup not only pits the Bills' second-ranked offense against the Colts' top-10 defense but it also provides an intriguing dynamic at quarterback — young, MVP candidate Josh Allen vs. grizzled veteran Philip Rivers.
The middle game is the rubber match between NFC West rivals Los Angeles and Seattle. Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Donald and company is always fun to watch, but it's the Seahawks' defense that has been playing well in its own right lately and could be facing rookie backup John Wolford if Jared Goff can't return after undergoing thumb surgery.
The nightcap on Saturday has Tampa Bay playing its first playoff game in 13 years on the road against Washington, the third team to win a division title with a losing record (16-game season). Will Tom Brady's postseason success carry over with the Buccaneers or can Chase Young and an athletic, feisty Washington defense rise to the occasion?
On Sunday, the action gets started with Baltimore in Tennessee. Yes, these two teams played each other in the regular season (Titans won 30-24 in overtime on the road in Week 11), but the Ravens no doubt want some payback after the Titans eliminated the No. 1 seed in last season's Divisional Round. Lamar Jackson desperately wants to get the playoff monkey off of his back, but the key for Baltimore will be slowing down 2,000-yard rushing champion Derrick Henry and the rest of the Titans' explosive offense.
On Sunday afternoon, Chicago and New Orleans will face off for the second time. The Saints beat the Bears 26-23 in overtime on the road back in Week 8 but Chicago's offense has looked better in recent weeks (until Sunday vs. Green Bay). Everyone will be paying close attention to Alvin Kamara's status as the timing lines up with when he should be cleared from the reserve/COVID-19 list, assuming he continues to test negative.
The final game of Super Wild Card Weekend is the third meeting between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Steelers easily won Round 1 (38-7 in Week 6) but the Browns drew even with a 24-22 victory on Sunday. But they are fully aware they didn't get the AFC North champion's best shot as Ben Roethlisberger and T.J. Watt were among those who didn't play in that game. So will Pittsburgh reassert itself at home or can Cleveland win its first playoff game since 1995?
So which teams will come out on top during Super Wild Card Weekend? Athlon's own Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster) and Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib), along with AthlonSports.com contributor Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer), predict the winners for every game this week:
NFL Wild Card Round Predictions
Indianapolis at Buffalo (Sat.)
^Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia in Week 3 ended in a tie.