Wild card weekend was a big one for several former Vikings, including Stefon Diggs, Taylor Heinicke, and Mike Priefer. It was a fun two days overall, with plenty of excitement, a bunch of interesting individual performances, and several narratives being shattered over a six-game slate.
But this weekend should be even better. All four games in the divisional round are fascinating matchups, and at this point, every team is just two wins away from a Super Bowl appearance. Once again, a number of former Vikings will play important roles over the next couple days. Let's run through each matchup and discuss the Vikings angles as well as some notable overall storylines.
Packers vs. Rams (3:35 p.m. CT Saturday, FOX)
- Former Vikings: None
There are no former Vikings playing in this game (the lone Minnesota connection is Packers rookie LB Kamal Martin, a Burnsville native and former Gopher), but I'd imagine Minnesotans will be tuned in and hoping to watch their biggest rival go one-and-done in the postseason. This game features a matchup between the Packers' No. 1 scoring offense and the Rams' No. 1 scoring defense. On an individual level, it should be fascinating to watch the battles of Davante Adams vs. Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald vs. the Packers' offensive line.
Unfortunately for Vikings fans, the Packers have a number of advantages here. They have by far the better quarterback, with MVP favorite Aaron Rodgers going against Jared Goff and his injured thumb. They also are more used to the cold, potentially snowy conditions that this game will be played in. But the Rams certainly have a chance if their defense can make some big plays and Goff can effectively get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
Bills vs. Ravens (7:15 p.m. CT Saturday, NBC)
- Former Vikings: Bills WR Stefon Diggs, Bills DC Leslie Frazier, Ravens DE Yannick Ngakoue
This game should be awesome. It's the one I'm most looking forward to out of any of the four matchups. The Bills' red-hot offense, led by Josh Allen and Diggs, is going up against a Ravens defense that just held the Titans to 13 points and 209 total yards. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens' offense are always fun to watch. These two quarterbacks can make amazing things happen on the field, and I can't wait to see how it plays out. Diggs is coming off a big game in the wild card round, and his individual matchups against Ravens corners Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey will be fascinating.
Chiefs vs. Browns (2:05 p.m. CT Sunday, CBS)
- Former Vikings: Chiefs G Mike Remmers, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, Browns assistant coaches Mike Priefer and Drew Petzing, Browns DT Sheldon Richardson, Browns S Andrew Sendejo, Browns WR Alexander Hollins, Browns QB Case Keenum, Browns LB Elijah Lee
Cleveland won its first playoff game since 1994 last weekend and now is playing with house money against the defending champions. With Kevin Stefanski back on the sideline after missing last week's win due to a positive COVID-19 test, can the Browns find a way to shock the world and topple the Chiefs? We'll see. Interestingly, Kansas City hasn't won a game by more than six points since November 1st. Their starters also haven't played in three weeks. But this is still Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs we're talking about. They're ten-point favorites in this one for a reason.
While the Browns have a bunch of former Vikings players on their active roster, the only ones who will play (barring injury) are Richardson and Sendejo.
Saints vs. Buccaneers (5:40 p.m. CT Sunday, FOX)
- Former Vikings: Saints RB Latavius Murray
A battle between a pair of legendary quarterbacks, aged 42 and 43, to cap off the weekend? That'll work. Drew Brees and the Saints are hoping to exercise their recent playoff demons and get back to the NFC title game, while Tom Brady is gunning for his sixth Super Bowl victory in his first year away from New England. The quarterbacks are the story here, but both of these defenses are capable of making things happen. This should be fun.
Murray isn't the only Minnesota connection here, as Bucs rookies Antoine Winfield Jr. and Tyler Johnson are both MN natives who starred for the Gophers.
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