NFL Wild Card Weekend


Brandon Chan, Staff Writer

The NFL Wild Card weekend games kicked off on Jan. 9 and Jan. 10. This year’s playoff seeding was different from other years because it was expanded to seven teams from each conference (in the past it was six). Because there are now an odd number of teams, that means only the number one seed received a first round bye. In previous years, the top two teams from each conference would receive a first round bye. Due to this, the race for the number one seed was all that much more important in the regular season in order to obtain more rest.

This weekend’s games included the Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles (L.A.) Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints, and Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers have a first round bye.

In the first game of the Wild Card weekend, the Indianapolis Colts visited the Buffalo Bills. The Colts started the game off hot with a 10-7 lead after a one yard Jonathan Taylor rush touchdown. However, the turning point of the game was when the Colts decided to go for it on fourth down at the four yard line and did not convert; this would have put them up by ten points. The Bills would go down the field and score a touchdown before the half, taking a 14-10 lead. In the fourth quarter, the Colts almost came back from down two touchdowns, but ended up losing 24-27. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs continued their amazing seasons.

“It’s been a long time since Bills Mafia has been able to celebrate like this,” Josh Allen said. “But again, it’s one game, you know? I’m just happy for a chance to play next week. We gotta find ways to go get it done next week.”

In the second game of the Wild Card weekend, the L.A. Rams took on the Seattle Seahawks. The first quarter of this game was very sluggish, with only the L.A. Rams kicking a field goal. At the beginning of the second quarter, Darious Williams intercepted Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and returned it for six points, shifting the momentum to the Rams. The L.A. Rams would go on to dominate the rest of the game, winning 30-20.

In the third game of the Wild Card weekend, the huge underdog Washington Football Team played against the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady and his star-studded Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Surprisingly, this game was close throughout due to the superb play of the Football Team’s backup quarterback, Taylor Heinicke. He shocked the whole world by keeping up with Tom Brady. However, the Football Team came up short, losing 23-31.

“Regardless of the outcome what a great game by Heinicke!” Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said on Twitter.

In the fourth game of the Wild Card weekend, the Baltimore Ravens faced the Tennessee Titans in a rematch of last year’s Divisional Round game in which Derrick Henry ran all over the Ravens defense. This year, however, it was a different story. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson outgained Derrick Henry on the ground, and they won 20-13 after a late game interception by cornerback Marcus Peters.

In the fifth game of the Wild Card weekend, the Chicago Bears played the New Orleans Saints (it was actually on the Nickelodeon channel!). From the jump, many could tell it wouldn’t be much of a competitive game since the Saints are on a different level than the Bears. The Bears offense was terrible, just as it was during the regular season. Saints quarterback Drew Brees and star running back Alvin Kamara led them to a 21-9 victory.

“The truth, though, is that the broadcast was a revelation for me at the end of a long season, and it may not be the kind of thing the ruling class of football broadcasting wants to hear,” Sports Illustrated wrote about the unique Nickelodeon slime broadcast. “To have the game stripped of all its self-importance and hubris was an absolute delight.”

In the sixth and final game of the Wild Card weekend, the underdog Cleveland Browns looked for their first playoff win since 1994. In the opening seconds of the game, the Browns jumped all over the Steelers. They recovered a fumble in the endzone to take a quick 7-0 lead. It didn’t stop there. By the end of the first quarter, they were up 28-0 after two rushing touchdowns by running back Kareem Hunt, and the game was all but over. The Browns would win the game 48-37.

Wild Card weekend with two extra games was definitely a blast for football fans all over the world.


Photo courtesy of NYTIMES.COM