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The Edge

The news site of Glacier Peak High school

The Edge

Super Wildcard Weekend Preview

Super+Wildcard+Weekend+kicks+off+tomorrow+with+six+matchups+on+deck+this+weekend
Super Wildcard Weekend kicks off tomorrow with six matchups on deck this weekend

With the regular season in the books, 14 teams have begun to turn their attention to the NFL Playoffs. While the 49ers and Ravens have the luxury of a bye week, the remaining 12 squads are now preparing for “Super Wildcard Weekend.”  

Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns (Saturday, 1:30 PM) 

Kicking off at 1:30 PM on Saturday, Jan. 13, the weekend begins with the 5th seeded Cleveland Browns heading to Houston for a battle with the AFC South Champion Texans. Houston stole the division title on the last day of the regular season, beating the Indianapolis Colts to secure a playoff spot, then receiving some help from the Tennessee Titans to help them jump the Jacksonville Jaguars. These two teams met in Houston on Christmas Eve, where Amari Cooper’s explosive, two-touchdown performance led the Browns to a 36-22 win over the shorthanded Texans.  

Joe Flacco’s veteran performance will be a boost for Cleveland, providing a quarterback who has shown that he can perform under the bright lights of the playoffs. The Super Bowl XLVII champion will face a different Texans team than the one he saw Christmas Eve, as the Texans are back to full strength. Houston sorely missed rookie DE Will Anderson Jr on the defensive side of the ball, while the absence of Rookie of the Year and potential MVP candidate QB CJ Stroud hindered the offensive production for the Texans. Both difference makers will be back for the playoff showdown, as new head coach Demeco Ryans looks to lead his former playing team to a victory.  

 Kansas City Chiefs vs Miami Dolphins (Saturday, 5 PM) 

For the first time ever, the NFL is putting a playoff game exclusively on Peacock, much to the disdain of fans everywhere. The Dolphins had a chance to secure the two seed in the final week of the season against Buffalo, but a win on the road for Josh Allen forced Miami to head to Kansas City for a matchup with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. In what has been a rather uncharacteristic season for KC, Mahomes and the offense have struggled to find a rhythm all year and come into the playoffs with a somewhat weak receiving corp.  

In a year that has seen KC underperform, the Dolphins will look to send Mahomes packing early while proving that they can beat good teams. Of Miami’s 11 wins, only one came against a team with a winning record (Dallas on Christmas Eve) while five of their six losses have come at the hands of the league’s most successful teams.  

Buffalo Bills vs Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, 10 AM) 

It’s officially been 20 years since the Pittsburgh Steelers had a losing record. Though their season was full of turmoil and disappointing play, the Steelers are back in the playoffs. Quarterback Mason Rudolph came off the bench as the third string QB after both Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky went down, helping get Pittsburgh back into a playoff spot.  

The Bills playoff hopes came down to the final day of the regular season, where a victory over the Dolphins helped boost them into a playoff spot. It’s been an up and down season for Buffalo, who fell short of lofty preseason expectations. At 11-6, Allen and the Bills will look to take care of a stout Steelers defense, though they’ll be aided by the absence of Pittsburgh’s superstar DE TJ Watt. Watt, recently named an All-Pro, has put together a career year this season with 19 total sacks, leading the league with 1.5 more than second place Trey Hendrickson of the division rival Bengals. He will be sorely missed against Buffalo, should he not be able to take the field. 

Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 1:30 PM) 

When the Packers and the Cowboys go head-to-head, odds are it’ll be an instant classic. Five of the last eight meetings between these historic franchises have resulted in one score games, most recently in 2022 when the Packers won 31-28 on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. This time the two will tangle in Arlington, the massive scoreboard of AT&T Stadium (better known as JerryWorld) providing a backdrop for the playoff clash. The Packers will have to rely on Jordan Love at QB for the first time ever in a playoff game, this being their first postseason appearance without Aaron Rodgers since 2004, where they lost to the Vikings in the Wild Card round.  

While the Packers trot out Jordan Love for the first time in a playoff game, Dallas will send Dak Prescott out to attempt to exercise his playoff troubles. Prescott is in the midst of a career year, having thrown a career high 36 touchdowns while only turning the ball over nine times. It’s been a year of proving the doubters wrong for the eighth year QB from Mississippi State, but he has one more box to check. Get through the divisional round. Prescott’s career started with a divisional round loss to the Packers, and he’s been chased out twice since then, including a loss last year to San Francisco. Prescott will look to finally get over the hump and have the media asking “how ‘bout them Cowboys?”  

Detroit Lions vs Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 5 PM) 

Kanye West’s Homecoming will be at the top of the playlist as the Lions prepare to host a playoff game for the first time since 1994. Though spirits will be high in Detroit, there’s certain to be a few teary eyes as Rams QB Matthew Stafford makes his return to the Motor City for the first time since being traded to LA in 2021. Coincidentally, that trade sent Detroit a QB in current starter Jared Goff. Both QBs will play against their former teams, as Stafford tries to prove he still has it and Goff tries to prove his status as a star in the league. Only two seasons ago, LA won the Super Bowl and seemed like the best in the league. That was until injuries and free agency departures left them in shambles for the 22-23 season. Returns for Stafford and Cooper Kupp, along with defensive reinforcements and the breakouts of rookies Puca Nacua and Kyren Williams have the Rams, recently left for dead, right back in the hunt. 

Meanwhile, Jared Goff and the Lions have something to prove. From the moment Dan Campbell took to the podium and talked about biting kneecaps in his introductory press conference, the Lions have embodied high-effort, hard-nosed football. They’ve gone from the basement to the penthouse of the NFL, but they need a playoff win to prove they aren’t frauds. Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game singe 1995, but with Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Aidan Hutchinson and company on the field, 2024 seems as perfect a time as ever to finally get back in the win column.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Philadelphia Eagles (Monday, 5:15 PM)  

After making it all the way to the Super Bowl last season, expectations were high for Philly. They lived up to those expectations for the first 11 weeks of the year, starting off 10-1. That’s when the wheels fell off. The infamous “Big Dom” scuffle against San Francisco came during a stretch of blowouts and bad losses that the Eagles felt down the stretch, sputtering to an 11-6 record after losing five of six to end the season. Now, with rumors swirling that head coach Nick Siriani is on the hot seat, Philly needs to refocus themselves to avoid a MAJOR playoff letdown.  

Out in Tampa, Baker Mayfield has had a resurgent year. After being largely written off due to rough stints in Carolina and LA, Baker has found his way back in Tampa. Taking over for Tom Brady, Baker has the Bucs back in the playoffs. Though they came from what many consider the weakest division in the NFL, Tampa has the opportunity to cause a major shakeup to the field should they be able to pull off the upset.  

The expanded playoff field has often left many fans opinionated on whether it’s a success or not. 14 teams in seems to make the playoffs less exciting for some fans, as it seems to be a cakewalk for higher seeded teams. “I think the 2 vs 7 matchup remains completely pointless and stupid. 2 seeds have won every game and I see that continuing,” Angus Van Valey said. “I think the Chiefs will win by multiple scores, Miami can’t play in the cold. Rams vs Lions is probably my most interesting game this week. I think the two five seeds (Philly and Cleveland) beat the four seeds (Tampa and Houston) we don’t need four divisions per conference and the four seeds are usually weak as a result.” 

Rams vs Lions is a game circled on many calendars, with some of the postseason’s best storylines coming from that matchup. “I’m really excited to watch wildcard weekend this year. From the freeze-offs in Buffalo and Kansas City to the homecoming of Matt Stafford vs the Lions. I truly think this weekend could be some of the most competitive and fun games of the playoffs until the Super Bowl,” Gavin Gardner said. 

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Trevor Butler, Staff

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