NFL Wildcard Weekend Preview: Seahawks vs. 49ers, Chargers vs. Jaguars

The last 14 teams in the race for the Super Bowl have been determined. Here’s a first look at the six playoff games scheduled for the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend.

The Jets’ league-long drought without a postseason berth has been extended to a dozen years, with a once-promising 6-3 start that turned into a 7-10 finish in Sunday’s 11-6 loss to the Dolphins.

Still, a local team is headed for the playoffs, notwithstanding the Giants’ loss to the Eagles, without Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and several others.

The Final 14 teams and their pecking order — including byes for the top-seeded Chiefs and the Eagles (both 14-3) — were finalized Sunday night when the Packers lost to the Lions to give the Seahawks a seventh-place finish in the NFC .

(And the Texans started Black Monday Sunday night by firing Lovie Smith after just one season, hours after Smith led them to a win that cost the Texans the No. 1 draft pick and handed it to the Bears.)

Here’s a first look at the six playoff games scheduled for next weekend – two on Saturday, three on Sunday and one next Monday night.

No. 7 Seahawks (9-8) at No. 2 49ers (13-4)

Geno Smith, not Aaron Rodgers, snagged the final wildcard spot in the NFC in what may be one of the most remarkable quarterback-related phrases ever written. The Jets retiree continued his unforeseen career revival this year after replacing Russell Wilson in Seattle, leading Pete Carroll’s team to a 16-13 overtime win over the Rams to finish over .500 . The Seahawks still needed help to qualify, and they got it when Dan Campbell’s already-eliminated Lions (also 9-8) played Sunday night at Lambeau Field Spoiler and their NFC North rivals Rodgers and the Packers with 20- 16 turned off . This weekend will see Geno Smith versus Brock Purdy, the last player drafted in 2022. Who saw this coming?

Chargers #5 (10-7) at Jaguars #4 (9-8)

Jacksonville won its last five games to steal the AFC South and make the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season, with Trevor Lawrence, the improving No. 1 overall winner of 2021, taking the lead. Justin Herbert led the Chargers into the postseason for the first time in his three seasons after throwing for more than 4,700 yards and 25 touchdowns.

No. 7 Dolphins (9-8) and No. 2 Bills (13-3)

The Bills didn’t play a full schedule against Cincinnati due to Damar Hamlin’s situation in Week 17, so the league decided Buffalo would play a neutral game if they faced the top-seeded Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Of course, Josh Allen and the Bills, who clinched an emotional win on Sunday while Hamlin watched from the hospital, have to get there first. Their playoff journey begins with a wildcard matchup against the Dolphins, who have not announced if they expect quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to receive medical attention from his latest concussion in time for this weekend.

No. 6 Giants (9-7-1) at No. 3 Vikings (13-4)

The Giants are back in the postseason for the first time since coach Ben McAdoo’s team were defeated 38-13 by the Packers in the wild card round six years ago after Odell Beckham Jr… and the receiving Corps is photographed at a boat party in Florida. Another first-year coach, Brian Daboll, has guided the Giants to a surprise berth and they will face off against a Vikings team they drew against three weeks ago until time was up by Greg Joseph’s 61- Losing a yard field goal. Hopefully most of the wide receiver talk this week will center on the Giants’ attempt to limit Minnesota stud Justin Jefferson, who led the NFL with 128 catches and 1,809 receiving yards.

No. 6 Ravens (10-7) at No. 3 Bengals (12-4)

Another quarterback who could potentially make an impressive postseason return is former MVP Lamar Jackson, who has not played since suffering a knee injury on Dec. 4. The Ravens have lost three of their last four games, including a 27-16 loss on Sunday to Anthony Brown behind center against the Bengals. Joe Burrow will be looking to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl for the second straight year, and Jackson’s availability would be a major factor.

No. 5 Cowboys (12-5) at No. 4 Buccaneers (8-9)

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have four more wins than the Bucs this season, but their reward for trying to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995-96 is an away game against Tom Brady? After everything the seven-time champ went through in 2022 — his brief retirement/comeback and a very public divorce from his wife Gisele Bundchen — the 45-year-old NFL legend left the Bucs as the NFC South winner in the playoffs despite a undershoot return. .500 record. Amazingly, Brady only missed the postseason once in his career as a starter (2002). Oh, the 23-year veteran broke his own NFL record for completions this season with 490. NFL Wildcard Weekend Preview: Seahawks vs. 49ers, Chargers vs. Jaguars

Ryan Sederquist

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