NFL Wildcard Weekend

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Sam Mitchell, Editor

Football fans know that whenever the new year rolls around, it is time again for the hallowed tradition of the NFL Playoffs. Every year, the twelve best teams in the NFC and AFC face off in a single-elimination playoff bracket ending in the Super Bowl. Teams are seeded 1-6 in each conference and the higher seed gets home field advantage. The New England Patriots earned the top seed in the AFC this season, and thus enjoyed their bye week while eight other teams battled it out in the NFL Wildcard Weekend.


To launch the weekend into action, the Houston Texans (4) hosted the Oakland Raiders (5) in an AFC showdown. The Texans had struggled throughout the season, barely earning their playoff spot by winning the AFC South Division. The Raiders were favorites to win the game, coming into their wildcard spot hot with a 12-4 record, until their star Quarterback Derek Carr was injured near the end of the regular season. The Texans defeated the battered Raiders 27-14.


Later that night, the Detroit Lions (6) travelled to the Seattle Seahawks (3) for the first NFC game of the weekend. The Lions had been enjoying a greatly improved season over recent performances, and came close to winning their division, a feat they have not accomplished since 1993. With that near miss, they set their sights on winning a playoff game, something they haven’t done since 1991. Unfortunately for Detroit fans, the juggernaut Seahawks ran over the Lions, winning 26-6.


Sunday began with the final game in the AFC, as the Pittsburgh Steelers (3) hosted the Miami Dolphins (6). A late-season resurgence brought the Steelers hurtling past the Baltimore Ravens and into the #3 seed in the AFC. The stunning offensive team of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown made quick work of the Miami team, winning the game 30-12.


The last game of the wildcard weekend was one of the most closely watched. The Green Bay Packers (4) hosted the New York Giants (5). The Packers got off to a rough start, but managed to turn things around and salvage their season, in no small part because of star QB Aaron Rodgers. The Giants tore into the playoffs following an incredible season from WR Odell Beckham Jr., only missing a divisional title because of the nearly unstoppable Dallas Cowboys. However, the game was not as close as expected, the Packers won easily over a flustered and cold Giants team, 38-13.


This weekend, football fans can look forward to the four Divisional games. On Saturday, in the NFC the Seattle Seahawks (3) will travel to face the Atlanta Falcons (2), while in the AFC the New England Patriots (1) will host the Houston Texans (4). On Sunday, the last AFC game will see the Kansas City Chiefs (2) hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers (4). The NFC will wrap up the Divisional round with a showdown in Dallas between the Dallas Cowboys (1) and the Green Bay Packers (4).