Super Wild Card Weekend NFL Preview


Get ready for a three-day weekend unlike any other.

Super Wild Card Weekend begins with two games Saturday, continues with a tripleheader on Sunday and finishes with the debut of a Monday night Wild Card game.

The 2021 postseason kicks off Saturday on the heels of the most exciting regular season in NFL history. NFL teams combined to pack into the 2021 season:

  • 34 games that featured a winning score on the final play, the most ever;
  • 49 game-winning scores in the final minute of regulation or in overtime, tied for the most in a season all-time;
  • 57 game-winning scores in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime, also tied for the most in NFL history.

Super Wild Card Weekend features steady, quality teams led by consistent veterans, and young and on-the-rise clubs guided by sensational newcomers.

Each of the last six NFL Drafts have contributed a starting quarterback to this weekend’s games: The Patriots’ MAC JONES (first round, 2021), the Bengals’ JOE BURROW (first round, 2020), the Eagles’ JALEN HURTS (second round, 2020), the Cardinals’ KYLER MURRAY (first round, 2019), the Bills’ JOSH ALLEN (first round, 2018), the Chiefs’ PATRICK MAHOMES (first round, 2017) and the Cowboys’ DAK PRESCOTT (fourth round, 2016),

And, with six starting quarterbacks not yet 27 years old, the 2021 playoff field is expected to tie for the second-most such quarterbacks in league history. Only the 2020 postseason, with seven, had more.

The weekend also features TOM BRADY guiding a Tampa Bay team challenging to snap the NFL’s 17-year stretch without a repeat Super Bowl champion, the longest streak in league history. Not since Brady and the Patriots won consecutive Super Bowl titles in 2003 and 2004 has an NFL team repeated as world champion.

SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles awaits. For 14 teams, the journey toward that dream continues this weekend.

The NFL Super Wild Card Weekend schedule with kickoff times:

Saturday, January 15
AFC Las Vegas at Cincinnati 4:35 PM ET NBC, Peacock, Universo
AFC New England at Buffalo 8:15 PM ET CBS, Paramount+
Sunday, January 16
NFC Philadelphia at Tampa Bay 1:05 PM ET FOX, FOX Deportes
NFC San Francisco at Dallas 4:40 PM ET CBS, Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Amazon Prime Video
AFC Pittsburgh at Kansas City 8:15 PM ET NBC, Peacock, Telemundo
Monday, January 17
NFC Arizona at Los Angeles Rams 8:15 PM ET ESPN/ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes

The 14 teams in contention for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles:

American Football Conference National Football Conference
1. Tennessee Titans (12-5), AFC South champion* 1. Green Bay Packers (13-4), NFC North champion*
2. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5), AFC West champion 2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4), NFC South champion
3. Buffalo Bills (11-6), AFC East champion 3. Dallas Cowboys (12-5), NFC East champion
4. Cincinnati Bengals (10-7), AFC North champion 4. Los Angeles Rams (12-5), NFC West champion
5. Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) 5. Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
6. New England Patriots (10-7) 6. San Francisco 49ers (10-7)
7. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) 7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
*Earned conference’s only first-round bye

WILD-CARD SUPER BOWL WINNERS: The Buccaneers last year took their first postseason step toward an eventual Super Bowl title by winning a Wild Card game as a Wild Card team (non-division winner). Since the inception of Wild Card playoff entries in 1978, Tampa Bay became the seventh Wild Card team to win a Super Bowl. Will another Wild Card team playing this weekend join that group at Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles?

The seven Wild Card teams to win the Super Bowl:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020 Kansas City Chiefs LV
Green Bay Packers 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers XLV
New York Giants 2007 New England Patriots XLI
Pittsburgh Steelers 2005 Seattle Seahawks XL
Baltimore Ravens 2000 New York Giants XXXV
Denver Broncos 1997 Green Bay Packers XXXII
Oakland Raiders 1980 Philadelphia Eagles XV

REMATCHES: Five of the six games on Super Wild Card Weekend are rematches of 2021 regular-season games. No other Wild Card round in league history has had as many rematches.

The five rematches in the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs:

Arizona at L.A. Rams Cardinals, 37-20 (Week 4 at Rams); Rams, 30-23 (Week 14 at Cardinals)
Las Vegas at Cincinnati Bengals, 32-13 (Week 11, at Raiders)
New England at Buffalo Patriots, 14-10 (Week 13 at Bills); Bills, 33-21 (Week 16 at Patriots)
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 28-22 (Week 6, at Eagles)
Pittsburgh at Kansas City Chiefs, 36-10 (Week 16, at Chiefs)

Don’t expect the team that won the regular-season matchup to automatically follow with a Wild Card win. Eight teams in the previous five years have rebounded from at least one regular-season loss against an opponent to avenge that loss with a win in the Wild Card round.

  • Last season alone, the BALTIMORE RAVENS knocked off Tennessee while the CLEVELAND BROWNS defeated Pittsburgh and the LOS ANGELES RAMS beat Seattle after each splitting their regular-season series.

ENCORE PERFORMANCES FOR MONDAY NIGHT WINNERS: The Rams host the Cardinals in the NFL’s first Monday postseason contest since the Rams lost to the Minnesota Vikings in a Wild Card game on Dec. 26, 1988. The winner of Monday’s game will have history on its side in the Divisional round.

  • During the 2021 regular season, teams that won on a Monday went 13-2-1 on the following Sunday.
  • Over a longer stretch, dating to Week 14 of the 2020 season, clubs that won a Monday game have gone 16-2-1 on the following Sunday.

WATCH OUT FOR ROAD TEAMS: The road club has won 10 of the last 14 NFL Wild Card games over the past three seasons, including four of the six Wild Card games last year. Since the 2017 playoffs, road teams are 12-6. And, in eight of the past nine seasons, at least one road team has won a Wild Card game.

A look at the six games on Super Wild Card Weekend:


Saturday, NBC/Peacock/Universo, 4:35 PM ET

  • Cincinnati has captured its first division title since 2015 and looks for its first postseason win since Jan. 6, 1991, when the Bengals won a Wild Card game over the Houston Oilers before traveling to the Los Angeles Coliseum, where they lost to the Raiders, 20-10, in the last postseason meeting between the clubs.
  • This season, Bengals head coach ZAC TAYLOR guided a team that became the first in NFL history with a 4,000-yard passer (JOE BURROW), a 1,000-yard rusher (JOE MIXON) and two 1,000-yard receivers (JA’MARR CHASE and TEE HIGGINS) all under the age of 26 in the same season. Chase and Higgins, who are each under the age of 23, became the youngest pair of 1,000-yard receivers in NFL annals.
  • Burrow makes his postseason debut after setting single-season franchise records with 4,611 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes and ranking second in the NFL with a 108.3 passer rating.
  • Chase led the AFC with 1,455 receiving yards, the most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
  • Mixon finished third in the league with a career-best 1,205 rushing yards. He joined AUSTIN EKELER and JONATHAN TAYLOR as the only players with at least 1,500 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns (16) this season.
  • Cincinnati also had the fifth-stingiest rushing defense in the NFL (102.5 rushing yards per game).
  • Bengals defensive end TREY HENDRICKSON is one of two NFL players with 13-or-more sacks in each of the past two seasons, joining T.J. WATT.
  • Raiders head coach RICH BISACCIA and quarterback DEREK CARR have led the franchise to its first postseason appearance since 2016 and the first since the team moved to Las Vegas.
  • Carr, who was injured and could not play in the team’s last postseason game, is expected to make his postseason debut after ranking fifth in the NFL with a franchise-record 4,804 yards this season. Carr is one of four quarterbacks in league history with at least 3,000 passing yards in each of his first eight seasons.
  • Las Vegas wide receiver HUNTER RENFROW led the team with career bests in receptions (103), receiving yards (1,038) and touchdown catches (nine), joining Pro Football Hall of Famer TIM BROWN (104 in 1997) as the only wide receivers in franchise history to reach 100 catches in a season.


Saturday, CBS/Paramount +, 8:15 PM ET      

  • Buffalo and New England will meet for a third time in 2021, having split the regular-season series. The road team has won each of the past three meetings.
  • On defense, the Bills (17.0 points allowed per game) and the Patriots (17.8) ranked first and second, respectively, in the NFL. Each team also had 30 takeaways this season, tied for third in the NFL.
  • The Patriots secured their 11th postseason berth in the past 12 seasons. Head coach BILL BELICHICK has 31 postseason wins in 43 postseason games as a head coach, both the most in NFL history.
  • New England’s MAC JONES became the first rookie quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs since DAK PRESCOTT in 2016. Jones led all rookies this season in completion percentage (67.6), passing yards (3,801), touchdown passes (22) and passer rating (92.5). He is bidding to become just the fourth rookie quarterback since 2000 and first since RUSSELL WILSON in 2012 to go on the road and win his first NFL postseason start.
  • The Patriots ranked second in the league with 24 rushing touchdowns this season, including 15 rushing touchdowns from running back DAMIEN HARRIS, tied for the second-most in the NFL this season.
  • New England defensive back J.C. JACKSON led the NFL with a career-high 23 passes defensed, including eight interceptions. Jackson, who has 25 career interceptions, became the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to record 25-or-more interceptions in his first four seasons.
  • Buffalo’s SEAN MCDERMOTT has led the Bills to playoff appearances in four of his five seasons as an NFL head coach, including consecutive AFC East titles, the team’s first division crowns since 1995. His 2021 club was the only team in the NFL to finish in the top five in both total offense (381.9 yards per game, fifth) and total defense (272.8 yards allowed per game, first).
  • Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN became the first player in franchise history to pass for 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons. With six rushing touchdowns this season, he also became the first quarterback ever with six-or-more rushing touchdowns in each of his first four seasons.
  • Buffalo wide receiver STEFON DIGGS is one of two NFL players with 1,000-or-more receiving yards and at least six touchdown catches in each of the past four seasons, joining MIKE EVANS.


Sunday, FOX/FOX Deportes, 1:05 PM ET

  • Answering the team’s first Super Bowl victory since 2002, Tampa Bay won its division for the first time since 2007. The Buccaneers are bidding to become the first team since the 2004 Patriots and the eighth overall to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
  • Under head coach BRUCE ARIANS, who owns a 5-2 career postseason record, the Buccaneers in 2021 ranked second among NFL teams in both scoring offense (30.1 points per game) and total offense (405.9 yards per game), and led the NFC by allowing only 92.5 rushing yards per game on defense.
  • Reigning Super Bowl MVP TOM BRADY paced the NFL in passing touchdowns (43) and passing yards (career-high 5,316, the third-most passing yards in a season in NFL history). His 485 completions this year were a single-season NFL record. Brady this season joined DREW BREES as one of two players all-time with multiple 5,000-yard passing seasons, and joined AARON RODGERS as one of two quarterbacks ever with three seasons of 40-or-more touchdown passes.
  • Buccaneers wide receiver MIKE EVANS, who ranked second in the NFL with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2021, became the first player in NFL history to reach 1,000 yards in each of his first eight seasons.
  • First-year head coach NICK SIRIANNI returned the Eagles to the playoffs. Philadelphia has now advanced to the postseason in four of the past five years, including a Super Bowl LII title in 2017.
  • In 2021, no other team had more rushing yards than the Eagles (159.7 yards per game). Philadelphia became the first team since the 1985 CHICAGO BEARS to record at least 175 rushing yards in seven consecutive games (Week 8-15 this season).
  • Eagles quarterback JALEN HURTS makes his playoff debut after leading NFL quarterbacks with 784 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2021. His five career games with two-or-more rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback in his first two NFL seasons during the Super Bowl era.
  • Wide receiver DEVONTA SMITH established the Eagles’ rookie franchise record with 916 receiving yards.


Sunday, CBS/Paramount+/Nickelodeon/Amazon Prime Video, 4:40 PM ET

  • San Francisco is playoff-bound for the second time in the past three seasons, after advancing to Super Bowl LIV in 2019.
  • Head coach KYLE SHANAHAN guided his team to top-five rankings in the conference in both total offense (375.7 yards per game, third) and total defense (310.0 yards allowed per game, second,) this season.
  • Quarterback JIMMY GAROPPOLO, who is 2-1 in three career postseason starts, has a 103.2 passer rating since Week 9, the third-highest mark in the league over that span.
  • Wide receiver DEEBO SAMUEL led the 49ers and ranked third in the NFL with 1,770 scrimmage yards. He was one of two NFL players this season with six-or-more rushing touchdowns and six-or-more receiving touchdowns, joining AUSTIN EKELER. Samuel’s eight rushing touchdowns this season were the most ever by a wide receiver. He also became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,400 receiving yards (1,405) and at least 300 rushing yards (365) in a season.
  • Defensive lineman NICK BOSA rebounded from a 2020 injury to tie for first in the NFL with a career-best 21 tackles for loss. He also finished fourth with 15.5 sacks this season.
  • Head coach MIKE MCCARTHY has now guided two franchises to the postseason, including nine playoff berths and a Super Bowl XLV crown with the Packers. Dallas captured the NFC East for the first time since 2018 and led the league in both scoring offense (31.2 points per game) and total offense (407.0 yards per game). The Cowboys also led the NFL with 34 takeaways.
  • Like Bosa, Cowboys quarterback DAK PRESCOTT rebounded in strong fashion from a 2020 season-ending injury, throwing for a franchise-record 37 touchdown passes this season and ranking third in the NFL with a 104.2 passer rating.
  • Running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT led the Cowboys with 1,002 rushing yards and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON as the only players in NFL annals with at least 1,250 scrimmage yards and at least eight touchdowns in each of their first six seasons.
  • Dallas cornerback TREVON DIGGS led the NFL with 11 interceptions, the most by an NFL player since 1981.
  • Linebacker MICAH PARSONS led the Cowboys with 13 sacks, tied for the third-most by an NFL rookie since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.


Sunday, NBC/Telemundo/Peacock, 8:15 PM ET

  • Pittsburgh clinched its second straight postseason berth. The Steelers are seeking their first playoff win since beating the Chiefs, 18-16, at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2016 Divisional Playoffs.
  • MIKE TOMLIN has guided Pittsburgh to a .500-or-better record in each of his 15 seasons as an NFL head coach (2007-21) and makes his 10th postseason appearance at the reins of the franchise.
  • Kansas City extended its streak of AFC West division titles to six (2016-21). The Chiefs’ ANDY REID last week became just the fifth head coach in NFL history to reach 250 career wins. Including the postseason, Reid is 250-150-1 (.625) in 23 seasons.
  • Steelers quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER is expected to make his 23rd career postseason start and tie Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA for the fourth-most by a quarterback in NFL history. Roethlisberger has at least 450 passing yards and four-or-more touchdown passes in each of his last two postseason starts.
  • Pittsburgh running back NAJEE HARRIS led NFL rookies with 1,667 scrimmage yards (1,200 rushing, 467 receiving) this season.
  • Steelers linebacker T.J. WATT had 22.5 sacks and matched the single-season NFL record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL STRAHAN (2001).
  • Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES, who has a 100.4 passer rating in eight career postseason games, ranked fourth in the NFL with 4,839 passing yards and tied for fourth with 37 touchdown passes this season.
  • Kansas City’s PATRICK KELCE became the first tight end ever with to top 1,000 receiving yards in six NFL seasons, and also the first ever at his position to reach 80 receptions in six consecutive years.
  • Wide receiver TYREEK HILL led the Chiefs and ranked third in the NFL with a career-best 111 receptions.


Monday, ESPN/ABC/ESPN2/ESPN+/ESPN Deportes, 8:15 PM ET    

  • The Rams make their fourth trip to the playoffs in six seasons since returning to Los Angeles in 2016.
  • Under head coach SEAN MCVAY (2017-21), the Rams clinched their third NFC West title and fourth playoff berth.
  • Rams wide receiver COOPER KUPP led the NFL in receptions (145), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16) in 2021, becoming the fourth player since the league merger in 1970 to lead the league in all three categories. His 145 receptions and 1,947 receiving yards were each the second-most by a player in a season all-time.
  • Los Angeles quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD finished second in the league with 41 touchdown passes and third with 4,886 passing yards in 2021.
  • Defensive lineman AARON DONALD led the Rams with 12.5 sacks this season and became the fourth player since 1982, when the individual sack became an official NFL statistic, to record at least eight sacks in each of his first eight NFL seasons.
  • Arizona makes its first playoff appearance since advancing to the NFC Championship Game in 2015. Head coach KLIFF KINGSBURY and quarterback KYLER MURRAY make their postseason debuts.
  • The Cardinals in 2021 became one of just three teams ever to win seven consecutive road games, each by double digits, including a 37-20 triumph over the Rams at SoFi Stadium in Week 4.
  • Murray, who has 70 career touchdown passes and 20 career rushing touchdowns, became the first quarterback in NFL history to reach those two marks in his first three NFL seasons. He also distinguished himself as the only quarterback in league annals to reach 3,500 passing yards, and 400 rushing yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.
  • Arizona running back JAMES CONNER ranked third in the NFL with a career-high 18 touchdowns (15 rushing, three receiving). In each of the Cardinals’ two games against the Rams in 2021, Conner had two rushing touchdowns.

# # #