Previewing NFL Wild Card Weekend

The NFL unveils its new playoff format this weekend with tripleheaders Saturday and Sunday.

Seven teams qualified from each conference with only the top seeds in each conference having byes. But the attractions probably aren’t as good as the league had hoped.

For example, the Bucs are favored by 10.5 points over the Washington football club and the Saints are favored by 9.5 over the Bears.

Adding more playoff games doesn’t mean they are better games, but the idea is to make more money.

—Two other games, Pittsburgh hosting Cleveland and Seahawks facing the Rams, also figure to be easy wins for the home teams although the spreads are only 3.5 and 4.5 points. Cleveland has been hit by the virus and the Rams don’t know the condition of quarterback Jared Goff. And the Bills are 6.5-point favorites over the Colts. The Bills appear to be the hottest team and figure to advance.–That leaves just one really good attraction – Ravens at Titans. Both teams are 11-5 and both teams like to run. The Ravens are the hotter team as they closed out the season with five consecutive wins. And they are favored by 3.5 points even though they are on the road and Lamar Jackson is still looking for his first playoff win after losing the last two years. Another first round loss would raise questions about whether Jackson can win in the playoffs. There may be more pressure on Jackson than any other player in the playoffs. The winner of this game and Buffalo are the two teams with a realistic chance of keeping the defending champion Chiefs out of the Super Bowl.

—The Chiefs have the bye but are not overwhelming favorites to repeat because they won seven one score games in a row before they lost their finale to the Chargers after they had clinched. They are three wins – two at home – away from repeating. The last team to repeat was the 2003-2004 Patriots. Can they do it? Stay tuned.

The two quarterbacks to watch in the playoffs are two veterans – Tom Brady and Drew Brees. This is probably Brees last season regardless of whether the Saints win or lose. He is likely headed towards the announcer’s booth. But Brady, trying to win his seventh Super Bowl and first without Bill Belichick, appears likely to keep playing.

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