An extra week of games tacked on this year brought about a dramatic finish to the NFL regular season. Will the additional playoff spot in each conference (introduced in 2020) bring about similar theatrics over the next few weeks? Or are we headed for a chalky Super Bowl LVI despite the expanded field?
There’s only one way to find out. Let the games begin!
NFL Playoff Matchup Previews
Frankie Taddeo broke down each first-round postseason matchup and gave his best bet for each game. See which teams he likes for Wild Card Weekend and why.
Saturday 4:30 p.m. ET | NBC
The Raiders won their final four games to put an end to a four-year playoff drought with a wild-card berth despite the turbulence the franchise dealt with this season. The Bengals are back in the postseason for the first time since 2015 thanks to an AFC North crown secured by an impressive Week 17 win over the Chiefs. Cincinnati trampled Las Vegas, 32-13, on the road in Week 11. As such, the Bengals are 5.5-point favorites at home.
Saturday 8:15 p.m. | CBS
These AFC East rivals split the season series. The first meeting was a Patriots win in a windstorm, a masterclass coaching job from Bill Belichick. The Bills took the second game, and eventually the division, behind the greatness of Josh Allen. Both teams somewhat limped into the playoffs—the only playoff team they beat in their final five games was each other. Buffalo is a 4-point home favorite.
Sunday 1 p.m. | FOX
The Buccaneers beat the Eagles, 28-22, early in the season, though that was before Philadelphia’s offensive makeover. And if you’ll remember, Tom Brady has some history with the Eagles in the postseason. Tampa Bay only lost one game since Week 10, but more importantly, it lost offensive weapons down the stretch. The reigning Super Bowl champions are an 8.5-point favorite.
Sunday 4:30 p.m. | CBS
The 49ers started the season 2-4 and won eight of their last 11 games, including an overtime win in Week 18 against the Rams to secure a return to the playoffs. The Cowboys, meanwhile, started the season 6-1 and went 6-4 over their final 10 games, still winning the NFC East with ease. These teams did not meet in the regular season, but this game is the lowest line of Wild-Card Weekend, with Dallas a narrow 3.5-point favorite at home.
Sunday 8:15 p.m. | NBC
The Chiefs started to look like the team that appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls and won it all two years ago as the season wore on. K.C.’s 3-4 start was concerning, but its 9-1 finish was more than enough to quell doubts about Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes come playoff time. The Steelers were an improbable tie away from missing the playoffs, but that’s not something that Mike Tomlin does. So here’s Pittsburgh, with a date against the team that beat it 36-10 just a few weeks ago. No wonder the Chiefs are favored by 12.5 points.
Fantasy Football and Betting
The Packers are the favorites to win it all, followed by the surging Chiefs. Our writers explain their picks to take home the Lombardi Trophy in this roundtable discussion.
Wild Card Weekend Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: For all of you with fantasy playoff leagues or DFS action, Michael Fabiano is recommending you start a familiar face in the first round—Tom Brady. See which other players Fabiano is on this weekend and who you should fade.
Fantasy Player Projections: Shawn Childs’s projections continue into the postseason. No surprise to see Cooper Kupp at the top of the receiver projections, but the running back list looks different than usual for the playoffs.
DFS Picks and Values: If you’re planning on creating a few DFS lineups for this weekend, allow Jen Piacenti to help you craft the team to get the most bang for your buck.
That’s all for today. Enjoy the games this weekend. I’ll be back Monday morning to review what happened and preview Monday night’s Cardinals-Rams matchup.