As Week 17 drew to a close, we saw the NFC South come out as the most dominant division in the NFC with 3 out of their respective 4 teams earning a playoff berth. Unfortunately, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not one of those three playoff teams, even after an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 17.
In the AFC, Jacksonville (10-6) was able to clinch the AFC East prior to their Week 17 matchup with division foe Tennessee, who subsequently defeated the Jaguars 15-10. However, with the win Tennessee (9-7) does clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2008 and with Baltimore’s loss to Cincinnati, the Titans are the 5th seed in the AFC.
Now that the match ups are set, here is how next week’s Wild Card games line up:
As mentioned prior, 3 teams from the NFC South made the playoffs and all of them will be in action during wild card weekend. First, the Atlanta Falcons (10-6) will be faced with the tough challenge of slowing down explosive offensive of the Los Angeles Rams (11-5), led by Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. These two teams squared off in Week 14 of last season with Atlanta handily defeating the Rams 42-14. They will meet Saturday night at 8:15pm.
In the other NFC Wild Card matchup, fans will get to watch New Orleans vs. Carolina: Part III. Both teams were able to finish the regular season with an 11-5 record but the Saints won both games against the Panthers during the regular season, thus holding the tiebreaker for the higher seed. With both teams coming off of losses in Week 17, this game is sure to provide some early playoff drama. The two teams will face off at 4:40pm on Sunday afternoon.
In an unusually weak performance from the AFC this year, the AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) will play host to the Tennessee Titans (9-7) at 4:30pm on Saturday. Tennessee is faced with stopping an electric Chiefs offense led by rookie running back Kareem Hunt who won the rushing title this year. Hunt is the first player since Priest Holmes to win the rushing title for Kansas City. This is also Tennessee’s first appearance back in the playoffs since 2008.
The final matchup for these playoffs came in dramatic fashion as the Buffalo Bills (9-7) were able to sneak into the playoffs after Baltimore lost to Cincinnati. So the other AFC Wild Card matchup will see the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Bills at 1pm Sunday afternoon. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was in 1996 when Jacksonville won that Wild Card matchup 30-27.
With New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Minnesota all earning the bye week, all eyes will be on these four games over the next week as the playoffs begin to be in full swing.
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