Previews, Odds & Players to Watch in Each Wild Card Matchup
The second-ever Super Wild Card Weekend has arrived. One year after the NFL expanded the postseason to 14 teams in 2020-21, a six-game slate takes over the first weekend of playoffs. Five of the six matchups are rematches from the regular season with the 49ers-Cowboys showdown as the only outlier. That means we have data from the first meeting to review. Here’s our team’s look at each game, including players to watch, betting odds and more.
NFL Super Wild Card Weekend
Raiders at Bengals (Sat. 4:30 pm)
The Raiders travel to Cincinnati to get things started on Saturday. The regular-season matchup saw the Bengals win a rout via 4th-quarter runaway. RB Joe Mixon dominated a ground-and-pound attack (30 carries, 123 yards, 2 TDs). Las Vegas’ pass rusher Maxx Crosby will have his sights set on pressuring QB Joe Burrow, but last year’s No. 1 overall pick is looking to make a statement in his first NFL playoff appearance. Bengals get the edge at home, but the Raiders come in as winners of their last four.
Odds: CIN (-5.5) | O/U (49)
Patriots at Bills (Sat. 8:15 pm)
The AFC East rivalry gets a new chapter Saturday night in frigid Buffalo. Temps are expected to be in the single digits, making it one of the coldest playoff games ever. The Bills and Pats split the regular season matchups, with the Patriots winning the “wind game” in Buffalo (14-10) where QB Mac Jones threw just three passes. The second matchup saw the Bills explode for 33 points (33-21) behind QB Josh Allen (30/47, 378 yards, 3 TDs). Expect Allen to be the x-factor while the rookie Jones gets his first postseason experience on the road. The oddsmakers give the edge to the Patriots, but it’s anyone’s game.
Odds: NE (-4) | O/U (44)
Eagles at Buccaneers (Sun. 1:00 pm)
Philly heads to Tampa Bay for a shot at Tom Brady and a rematch of their Week 6 battle. The Bucs won the first matchup (28-22), but that was before Philly’s renewed approach to the ground game. The Eagles were 2-4 after that loss, but they finished the year 7-4 after becoming the league’s top rushing attack down the stretch. If the Birds can control the clock and run it well, they could be trouble for TB12. In the end, a 44-year-old Tom Brady in MVP-like form is doubtful to go out in Round 1.
Odds: TB (-8.5) | O/U (46)
49ers at Cowboys (Sun. 4:30 pm)
The most scintillating showdown of the weekend comes in Dallas where the surging 49ers look to deliver the upset. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season, but San Francisco comes in winning seven of their last nine with both losses by one score. The Cowboys scored 50-plus in two of their last three outings. Expect the ‘Boys to go as far as QB Dak Prescott can take them.
Odds: DAL (-3) | O/U (51)
Steelers at Chiefs (Sun. 8:15 pm)
Pittsburgh and Kansas City met just three weeks ago on Christmas weekend, and that clash wasn’t even close. The biggest spread of Wild Card Weekend goes to the Chiefs, who blew out the Steelers by 26 in that game. QB Ben Roethlisberger will have to perform a miracle at Arrowhead to avoid this being his final game in a Steelers uniform. KC has won nine of their last 10 games — the best record in their final 10 across the NFL. QB Patrick Mahomes likely sends the Chiefs rolling into Round 2.
Odds: KC (-12.5) | O/U (46)
Cardinals at Rams (Mon. 8:15 pm)
The NFC West battle brings the Monday night finale to Wild Card Weekend. Both teams split the regular-season matchups, but these squads are different now. The Cardinals were once the talk of the league, but the Rams added veteran superstars Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. at the trade deadline. Remember: QB Matthew Stafford has never won a playoff game in a dozen NFL seasons. He’ll need this one to avoid offseason questions.
Odds: LAR (-4) | O/U (49)
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