This past weekend, the NFL held their wild card rounds of the playoffs. In the AFC, the 4th seeded Houston Texans hung on to defeat the 5th seeded Buffalo Bills 22-19 in a wild game that went into overtime. The return of Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt was the main story in that game as his return appeared to give the Texans an emotional boost.
In the other AFC game, the 6th seeded Tennessee Titans led by start running back Derrick Henry upset the 3rd seeded New England Patriots 20-13, causing some to wonder if this is the end of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era.
In the first NFC game, my 6th seeded Minnesota Vikings upset the 3rd seeded New Orleans Saints by a final score of 26-20 in overtime. It was the Vikings’ first playoff overtime win in franchise history. There was some controversy about the final play of the game, in which Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph appeared to push off the Saints’ defensive back to gain separation in the end zone. No offensive pass interference was called, Rudolph caught the ball for the touchdown, and the Vikings won.
In the other NFC game, the 5th seeded Seattle Seahawks defeated the 4th seeded Philadelphia Eagles 17-9 behind 160 receiving yards from rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf. It set a Seahawks post-season rookie record for most receiving yards in a game. Metcalf was the big story as he was a late second round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft after many thought he should have been a 1st round pick.
Up next: The Divisional round of the playoffs. In the NFC, The Vikings will travel to the Bay Area to face the #1 seeded San Francisco 49ers (Saturday at 1:35 PM PST on NBC) while the Seahawks will travel to the frozen tundra of Green Bay to face the #2 seeded Packers (Sunday at 3:40 PM PST on Fox).
In the AFC, the Titans will travel to Baltimore to face the #1 seeded Ravens (Saturday at 5:15 PM PST on CBS) while the Texans will travel to Kansas City to face the #2 seeded Chiefs (Sunday at 12:05 PM PST on CBS).
Big picture: Super Bowl Sunday is February 2nd, with a 3:30 PM PST kickoff time. Just to give you all a sense of where we are in the process, the winners of this upcoming weekend’s divisional playoffs will face off in the conference championship games the week after. The winner of those conference championship games will face off in the Super Bowl two weeks later. So, where we are right now is the NFL’s quarterfinal rounds.
Prediction: I’m biased towards the Vikings because they are my team, but as it is every year, having home field advantage is a big deal. This is the 49ers’ and Ravens’ to lose. Both earned home field advantage through their stellar play in the regular season and now they have to make sure they don’t squander this opportunity. They’ll have to earn it though. At this stage of the season, everyone is capable of going the distance.