NFL Wild Card Weekend Schedule Set After Crazy Week 18
I'd say adding an extra week to the NFL season worked out for the league this season. The first ever week 18 in the NFL had three overtime games that affected playoff seedings, and, now that it's finally finished, the final standings and schedule for wild card weekend are set.
Here's the schedule for the opening weekend of the NFL postseason:
Saturday, Jan. 15
5. Las Vegas Raiders at 4. Cincinnati Bengals at 3:30 p.m. on NBC
6. New England Patriots at 3. Buffalo Bills at 7:15 p.m. on CBS
Sunday, Jan. 16
7. Philadelphia Eagles at 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 12:00 p.m. on FOX
6. San Francisco 49ers at 3. Dallas Cowboys at 3:30 p.m. on CBS
7. Pittsburgh Steelers at 2. Kansas City Chiefs at 7:15 on NBC
Monday, Jan. 17
5. Arizona Cardinals at 4. Los Angeles Rams at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN
Here is the entire NFL playoff bracket.
In the AFC, chaos happened thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars continuing their strange domination at home against their AFC South divisional rival Indianapolis Colts, winning 26-11 in the early slate. The Colts winless drought in Jacksonville extends to 2014 and now it will last another year. That effectively eliminated the 9-8 Colts from playoff contention, and, thanks to the cellar-dwelling Lions taking down the NFC one seed Green Bay Packers, the Jaguars ended up with the number one overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. It was a good day to be a Jacksonville fan.
Thanks to the Jaguars pulling off their third win of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers entered the playoff race with a 16-13 overtime victory in Baltimore against the Ravens. That eliminated the Ravens, and Steelers fans had to hope that the Chargers and Raiders did not tie. Needless to say, Pittsburgh was thankful to Jacksonville for the big upset victory.
Sunday Night Football was a ridiculous game, and the Los Angeles Chargers fell to the Las Vegas Raiders 35-32 on a game-winning 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime. The Chargers came back from down 15 points late, and a missed field goal in overtime by Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson would have booked the playoff spot for each team. All they needed was a tie to eliminate the Steelers, and each team would be getting ready for the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs. Instead, Carlson ended the Chargers season in one kick, sending his team to the wild card round as the five seed.
As far as the top seeds in the AFC go, not much changed. Tennessee won 28-25 against the Texans, clinching the first round bye. Kansas City also beat Denver to remain at the two seed. The only movement came when the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Cleveland Browns, dropping them to the four seed after the Buffalo Bills took down the New York Jets. Buffalo won the AFC East and will be the three seed in the playoffs.
That's how the AFC played out. Thanks to the Jaguars-Colts, Steelers-Ravens, and Raiders-Chargers games, it was an incredible finish to the regular season in that conference. The NFC was expected to be less chaotic, and not much happened.
Six teams had already clinched coming into week 18 with one spot remaining. The New Orleans Saints needed to beat the Atlanta Falcons and have the Los Angeles Rams win at home against the San Francisco 49ers to sneak into the playoffs as the seven seed.
The Saints took care of business, taking down the Falcons with ease, but the Rams extended their losing streak against the 49ers after suffering the second-largest blown lead in the NFL this entire season. After being up 17-0 in the second quarter, Los Angeles lost 27-24 in overtime. New Orleans was eliminated, and San Francisco took the final spot in the NFC.
With the Rams loss, the door was open for the Arizona Cardinals to win the NFC West. However, they lost to the 7-10 Seattle Seahawks at home. Because of that, the Rams still won the NFC West, but they fell to the four seed after the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each won their games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers respectively.
Arizona stayed at the five seed, San Francisco clinched the six seed, and Philadelphia slid in at the seven seed with these results. Meanwhile, Dallas rose to third and Tampa finished second in the NFC with the Rams loss.
There was much less intrigue in the NFC, but there was still movement thanks to a few playoff teams losing in the final week of the regular season. That's how we got to our six-game wild card weekend. Let the chase for Super Bowl LVI begin.