What to Look For in NFL Super Wild Card Weekend

MORE TEAMS, MORE GAMES, MORE WILDThe addition of a third Wild Card team in each conference and the subsequent expansion of the playoffs has resulted in a Super Wild Card Weekend of NFL action. For the first time ever, there will be three games on Saturday, January 9, and three games on Sunday, January 10, to be played at 1:05 PM, 4:40 PM, and 8:15 PM ET on each day. 

Seven of the 12 teams in action this weekend are new to the postseason in 2020, having missed the playoffs a year ago: the CHICAGO BEARSCLEVELAND BROWNSINDIANAPOLIS COLTSLOS ANGELES RAMSPITTSBURGH STEELERSTAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS and WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM. Two of those teams – Pittsburgh (AFC North) and Washington (NFC East) – won their division.

Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before. Additionally, at least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 17 of the past 18 years, including the 2020 season.

Each of the 12 teams playing this weekend hope to earn their first of four wins needed to capture the Lombardi Trophy. Winners in the Wild Card round have won the Super Bowl nine times.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND –​

HIGHEST SCORING TEAMS IN ACTION: Five teams averaged at least 30 points per game in 2020 – the GREEN BAY PACKERS (31.8), BUFFALO BILLS (31.3), TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (30.8), TENNESSEE TITANS (30.7) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (30.1) – the most such teams in a single season in NFL history.

Four of these teams will be in action on Super Wild Card Weekend, with Green Bay earning the first-round bye in the NFC. Each of the past four Super Bowl matchups have featured two teams that each ranked in the top five in points per game during the regular-season.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —

PLAYOFF VETERANS: Four of the seven all-time postseason leaders in passing yards are active in the 2020 postseason, including three appearing on Super Wild Card Weekend: Tampa Bay’s TOM BRADY (11,388 postseason passing yards), Pittsburgh’s BEN ROETHLISBERGER (5,256) and New Orleans’ DREW BREES (4,967). Green Bay’s AARON RODGERS (5,027 passing yards) will make his first 2020 postseason appearance in the Divisional round.

With a Pittsburgh victory against Cleveland on Sunday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Telemundo, Peacock), Roethlisberger would tie Pro Football Hall of Famers TERRY BRADSHAW (14 wins) and JOHN ELWAY (14) as well as PEYTON MANNING (14) for the third-most playoff wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY is the all-time postseason leader in wins with 30 and makes his playoff debut in a Buccaneers’ uniform on Saturday night at Washington.

Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON – who has led the Seahawks to the postseason in eight of his first nine seasons in the league – tied for second in the NFL with a career-high 40 touchdown passes in 2020 and recorded at least four touchdown passes in five games, the second-most in the league this season.

With at least four touchdown passes against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday (4:40 PM ET, FOX, FOX Deportes), Wilson can surpass TOM BRADY (26 touchdown passes) for the most career postseason touchdown passes by a player in his first nine seasons in NFL history.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —

RUSHING INTO THE POSTSEASON: For the second consecutive season, the BALTIMORE RAVENS and TENNESSEE TITANS will meet in the postseason (Sunday, 1:05 PM ET, ESPN/ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, Freeform), after Tennessee defeated Baltimore in the Divisional round last year. It will mark the first time that two teams will meet in consecutive postseasons since Carolina played both Arizona and Seattle in 2014 and 2015.

Baltimore (191.9 rushing yards per game) and Tennessee (168.1) were the top-two ranked rushing teams in 2020 and their meeting on Sunday will be the fourth postseason game featuring the top-two ranked rushing offenses in the regular season since 1970. The top-ranked rushing team won two of the previous three meetings.

Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY led the NFL with 2,027 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns this season, the fifth-most rushing yards by a player in a single season in league history. In last year’s postseason meeting against Baltimore, Henry rushed for 195 yards, his third-career postseason game with at least 150 rushing yards.

With at least 150 rushing yards on Sunday, Henry would tie Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL DAVIS (four games) for the most games with at least 150 rushing yards in postseason history.

Baltimore running back J.K. DOBBINS ranked third among rookies in rushing yards (805) and rushing touchdowns (nine) this season and has recorded a rushing touchdown in six consecutive games (Week 11, 13-17).

With a rushing touchdown on Sunday, Dobbins would tie CURTIS DICKEY (seven games in 1980) and STAN FRITTS (seven games in 1975) for the second-most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown by a rookie in NFL history, including postseason. Only MAURICE JONES-DREW (eight games in 2006) had a longer streak.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —

SEARCHING FOR PLAYOFF TREASURES: Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY is the league’s all-time postseason leader in starts (41), completions (1,025), passing yards (11,388) and touchdown passes (73), with 12 of his 73 postseason touchdowns to tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI. ​

With a touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski at Washington on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Universo), the pair will surpass the Pro Football Hall of Fame combination of JOE MONTANA and JERRY RICE (12 touchdowns) for the most postseason touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver pairing in NFL history.

Additionally, with a touchdown reception on Saturday night, Gronkowski will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN STALLWORTH (12 touchdown receptions) for the second-most touchdown catches in postseason history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (22) has more.

Tampa Bay wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN enters the postseason after recording season highs in catches (11), receiving yards (138) and receiving touchdowns (two) in Week 17. Dating back to the 2014 postseason, Brown has recorded at least 75 receiving yards in six consecutive playoff games.

With at least 75 receiving yards on Saturday night, Brown will have recorded at least 75 receiving yards in seven consecutive postseason games, the longest streak in NFL history.

Brown has eclipsed the 100 receiving yard mark five times in his postseason career. With at least 100 receiving yards on Saturday night, he will tie JULIAN EDELMAN (six games) and Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL IRVIN (six games) for the second-most postseason games with at least 100 receiving yards in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (eight games) has more.

BAKER’S DEBUT: Cleveland quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, will be making his postseason debut against Pittsburgh on Sunday night (8:15 PM ET, NBC, Telemundo, Peacock). Mayfield recorded a career-high 95.9 passer rating in 2020 and joined ANDREW LUCK and PEYTON MANNING as the only players with at least 3,500 passing yards and 20 touchdown passes in each of their first three seasons in NFL history.

With a victory on Sunday, Mayfield would become the first quarterback that was selected No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft to win his first career postseason start since ALEX SMITH in 2011.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND —

TOP DEFENSE: The LOS ANGELES RAMS allowed the fewest points per game (18.5) in the NFL this season. Since 2002, seven teams with the top regular-season scoring defense have advanced to the Super Bowl.

Los Angeles linebacker LEONARD FLOYD had five sacks and a fumble recovery in two games against Seattle this season, recording at least two sacks in each game.

With at least two sacks against Seattle on Saturday (4:40 PM ET, FOX, FOX Deportes), Floyd would become the first player in NFL history to record at least two sacks against one team three times in a single season.

— SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND –​

Jan. 9

AFC:    12:05 p.m. (CT)  Indianapolis at Buffalo (CBS)

NFC:    3:40 p.m. (CT)  Los Angeles Rams at Seattle (FOX)

NFC:    7:15 p.m. (CT)  Tampa Bay at Washington (NBC)

Jan. 10

AFC:    12:05 p.m. (CT)  Baltimore at Tennessee (ESPN/ABC)

NFC:    3:40 p.m. (CT)  Chicago at New Orleans (CBS, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime)   

AFC:    7:15 p.m. (CT)  Cleveland at Pittsburgh (NBC, Telemundo, Peacock)

The Divisional Playoffs schedule will be announced once all Wild Card games have been played.

COURTESY NFLmedia.com

Posted in NFL
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