NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview: Games, Start Times, Stats, Players To Watch
The NFL Wild Card Round is finally here, with four big games set for this weekend — two on Saturday and two on Sunday.
The top two seeds in the NFC ( No. 1 New Orleans Saints, No. 2 Los Angeles Rams) and AFC (No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs, No. 2 New England Patriots) won’t play just yet, as they all earned first-round byes.
Here is the full schedule for the Wild Card Round:
Saturday, Jan. 5
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (4:35 p.m. EST on ESPN/ABC)
After starting the season 0-3, the Texans (11-5) earned its first victory of 2018 with a 37-34 overtime road win over the Colts (10-6) in Week 4 and won the AFC South title. Houston then lost to Indianapolis 24-21 at home on Dec. 9. The Colts won nine of their final ten games.
This game will likely be close, but Houston appears to be the predicted favorite with strong veteran defensive players like J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, as well as a powerful offense led by quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Both these teams finished the season 10-6, although only Dallas clinched its division (Seattle finished second in the NFC West).
Things changed significantly for the Cowboys after they got wideout Amari Cooper on Oct. 22 via a trade with Oakland. Cooper helped propel Dallas to win seven of its last eight games. Third-year running back Ezekiel Elliott led the league in rushing this season with 1,434 yards, and also logged nine touchdowns.
Given all this, Dallas seems poised to beat Seattle, despite the fact that it has won just one postseason matchup in the last eight years.
Sunday, Jan. 6
This will be the second instance in just three weeks that these two teams face off. The Ravens (10-6) won the last meeting 22-10 on Dec. 22 in L.A. Baltimore won its last three games en route to clinching its division title. The Chargers (12-4) placed second in the AFC West behind Kansas City.
The Ravens went 6-1 after their bye week as QB Lamar Jackson powered the offense to major success. Baltimore seems to have the slight edge against the Chargers, despite leading the league with 293 yards allowed per contest.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (4:40 p.m. EST on NBC)
The reigning Super Bowl champions now face a big challenge in Chicago as they take on the Bears (12-4), who clinched the NFC North after winning their final four games.
This matchup will also likely be close, although the Bears may just come out on top.