2024 NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Playoff Preview

A quick look at the weekend's NFL action to help you avoid the 40° heat.

2024 NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Playoff Preview

A quick look at the weekend's NFL action to help you avoid the 40° heat.
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Super Wild Card Weekend is upon us, and 14 teams remain in the hunt for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Although the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will enjoy a bye week during the wild-card round, NFL fanatics will be treated to a weekend of exciting postseason action.

Two NFC East squads pulled off upsets in last year’s opening round of the playoffs. The No. 5 Dallas Cowboys clobbered the No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to end the Hall of Fame career of Tom Brady on a sour note. Meanwhile, the No. 6 New York Giants stunned the No. 3 Minnesota Vikings to continue their Cinderella season.

The Cowboys and Buffalo Bills are the biggest favourites, and they’re favoured by 7.5 and 10 points, respectively. However, the remaining four games on the wild card slate should be hotly-contested affairs that either team could win.

AFC Wild Card Preview

#5 Cleveland Browns (11-6) at #4 Houston Texans (10-7)

Houston Texans running back Devin Singletary (26) carries the ball during a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Houston Texans in Houston, TX. ..Trask Smith/CSM/Sipa USA (Credit Image: Trask Smith/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA)
Credit: AAP Images Trask Smith/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA

The Browns are a slight road favourite against the Texans and their electrifying rookie quarterback, C.J. Stroud. Veteran signal-caller Joe Flacco has posted a 4-1 card in five starts and has tallied over 300 passing yards in four straight games. Wideout Amari Cooper will return to action for Cleveland after sitting out two games with a heel injury. Cooper roasted Houston on Christmas Eve for 11 catches and a franchise record 265 receiving yards.

Stroud will square off against a Browns’ defence that allowed the fewest passing and total yards during the regular season. The second overall pick in last year’s draft threw for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns despite missing two games. Nico Collins had a breakout season for the Texans with 80 receptions and became the third player in team history to tally 1,200 yards receiving in one season. The future is bright in Houston, but Flacco and a stout defence will help Cleveland advance to the Divisional round.

#6 Miami Dolphins (11-6) at #3 Kansas City Chiefs (11-6)

The Chiefs are the favourite in a game with frigid weather conditions. Two-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes will face a banged-up Miami defence missing several starters with season-ending injuries. Travis Kelce is the top receiving threat for Kansas City with 93 catches, but the veteran tight end failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since 2015. Isiah Pacheco finished 18th in the league with 935 rushing yards.

The Dolphins’ high-octane offence will have to overcome single-digit temperatures and an elite Chiefs’ defence. Tua Tagovailoa passed for an NFL-high 4,624 yards, and Tyreek Hill caught 119 balls for a league-leading 1,799 yards. However, Kansas City stymied Tagovailoa (193 passing yards) and Hill (62 receiving yards) in a 21-14 victory on Nov. 5. Miami’s hopes of pulling off the upset will depend on running backs Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane. The duo combined for 1,812 rushing yards and 26 scores in the regular season.   

#7 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8) at #2 Buffalo Bills (11-6)

The Bills are a massive favourite against a Pittsburgh squad that is missing superstar linebacker T.J. Watt. Only three quarterbacks threw for more yards than Josh Allen, but the mistake-prone Buffalo quarterback also finished second with 18 interceptions. Stefon Diggs put together another productive campaign with 107 receptions, 1,183 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns. James Cook is the leading rusher with 1,122 rushing yards, but managed to find the end zone just twice on 237 carries.

Mason Rudolph will be under centre after going undefeated in three starts to help the Steelers sneak into the playoffs. The former third-round pick has thrown only three scoring passes but has yet to throw an interception in 74 pass attempts. Najee Harris tallied his third straight 1,000-yard season, and wideouts George Pickens (63-1,140-5) and Diontae Johnson (51-717-5) are big-play threats. The Steelers will struggle to score points on a tough Bills defence, and will need to create several turnovers to keep the game close.

NFC Wild Card Preview

#7 Green Bay Packers (9-8) at #2 Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

Dak Prescott and the red-hot Cowboys are big favourites to advance to the Divisional round for the second straight season. Prescott led the league in interceptions a year ago despite missing five games. The former fourth-round selection rebounded in a big way with 36 touchdowns and just nine picks. CeeDee Lamb led the league with 135 catches and tallied a career-high 1,749 receiving yards and 12 scores. Dallas has a lacklustre rushing attack but could have success against Green Bay’s 28th-ranked run defence.

Jordan Love started the season slowly but has blossomed into one of the league’s rising, young gunslingers. The former first-rounder tossed 20 of his 32 touchdown passes over the final nine regular season games. Youngsters Jayden Reed (64-793-8) and Romeo Doubs (59-674-8) are the top pass-catchers, while the 1-2 punch of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have combined for 1,269 rushing yards. The Packers rank 14th in the league with 45 sacks and will need to force several turnovers to snap the Cowboys’ 16-game winning streak at AT&T Stadium.

#6 Los Angeles Rams (10-7) at #3 Detroit Lions (12-5)

The Lions are the favourite to come out on top in a projected high-scoring affair. Jared Goff has quietly become one of the NFL’s top passers, with over 9,000 passing yards and 59 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown posted 100-plus receptions for the second straight year, while tight end Sam LaPorta set a rookie record with 86 catches before going down with a knee injury in the regular season finale. Detroit’s fifth-ranked rushing attack is paced by David Montgomery (1,015-13) and Jahmyr Gibbs (945-10).

Matt Stafford will return to the Motor City for the first time since the blockbuster trade three years ago. The 35-year-old threw multiple touchdown passes in five of his last six starts. Rookie wideout Puka Nacua enjoyed a record-setting campaign with 105 catches for 1,486 yards and six scores. The fifth-round pick also had 25 catches that gained at least 20 yards. Another budding star, second-year running back Kyren Williams, averaged five yards per carry while finishing third in the league with 1,144 yards and 12 touchdowns. This game is a toss-up and will be won by the team which protects the ball the best.

#5 Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) at #4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8)

The Eagles are favoured by a field goal despite limping into the playoffs with five losses in their last six games. Jalen Hurts has been plagued by nagging injuries this season and will enter the postseason with an injured middle finger on his throwing hand. Last year’s MVP runner-up has thrown for 300 yards just once in his previous nine games. D’Andre Swift finished fifth in the league with 1,049 rushing yards but has not had a 100-yard game since Sept. 26. Top receivers A.J. Brown (106-1,456-7) and DeVonta Smith (81-1,066-7) are both nursing injuries.

Baker Mayfield earned a $1 million bonus for guiding the Buccaneers to the playoffs and can earn $250,000 for each postseason win. The former Heisman Trophy winner set career highs for completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s rushing attack finished last in the NFL with a meagre 88 yards on the ground each week. Veteran receiver Mike Evans registered his 10th straight season with 1,000-plus receiving yards. Philadelphia has been in a downward spiral for over a month despite having an array of playmakers. The Eagles could be in trouble if Mayfield can capitalize on the league’s 31st-ranked pass defence.

2022-23 NFL Award Projections

Most Valuable Player — Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) throws a pass under pressure from Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Raekwon Davis (98) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Credit: AAP Photos/Matt Rourke

Jackson is the best player on the best team in the NFL. The Ravens’ lopsided win over the 49ers sealed the MVP for the league’s most electrifying dual-threat quarterback.

Offensive Player of the Year — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys

While Tyreek Hill gets all the ink, Lamb caught 16 more passes than the “Cheetah” while tallying 1,749 receiving yards and 12 scores. No offensive playmaker has been more valuable to his team this season than the Cowboys big-play receiver.

Defensive Player of the Year — T.J. Watt, EDGE, Pittsburgh Steelers

Watt racked up 19 sacks this season to become the first player to lead the NFL in sacks three times. While Myles Garrett and Micah Parsons are both elite pass rushers, Watt has proven to be at the top of the class.

Offensive Rookie of the Year — C.J. Stroud, QB, Houston Texans

Stroud is the main reason the surprising Texans are in the playoffs for the first time in 2020. He threw for over 4,000 yards despite missing two games and finished his rookie season with a league-low five interceptions. 

Defensive Rookie of the Year — Will Anderson Jr., EDGE, Houston Texans

Anderson set a franchise rookie record with seven sacks even though he missed two games due to injuries. The third overall pick in last year’s draft is a budding superstar who will only get better.

Coach of the Year — Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

Campbell led the Lions to their first division title since 1993 and has built a talented roster that is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. In just three seasons, he has transformed a 5-11 squad into a 12-5 team.

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This article was created in partnership with TABtouch.
Featured image: AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee