The regular season has come to a close and the playoff picture is clear. Quite a few teams’ Super Bowl dreams are still alive and well. We took a look at the teams scheduled to play in the NFC wild card round. Here’s what you have to look forward to in early January.
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday, January 5, 1:05 p.m. FOX
The Minnesota Vikings have flown under the radar this year, and everyone is waiting for them to reach their potential. They still have one of the toughest defensive lines in football and a strong running game. But Minnesota hit a wall when teams started banking on trying to make Kirk Cousins win games with his arm alone. Cousins has been a decent regular season quarterback, but consistently underperforms on the big stage. He’ll have to overcome his reputation for falling short in the clutch for Minnesota to advance, and he has enough weapons around him to do that.
The New Orleans Saints couldn’t secure a first-round bye, but are in an excellent position to advance to the next round of the postseason. Misfortune struck the Saints early when quarterback Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury early in the season and missed a few weeks, but Teddy Bridgewater held down the fort just fine and kept the team dominant. New Orleans has a ferocious defensive line, one of the league’s better shutdown cornerback’s in Marshon Lattimore on one end. Then there’s Brees working with an extremely versatile Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, who who led the league in receiving yards and broke the single-season record for receptions this year. The Mercedez-Benz Superdome is one of the hardest places to play, and Kirk Cousins has a reputation for choking under pressure. Not a bad look for the Saints.
Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, January 5, 4:40 p.m. NBC
The Seattle Seahawks lost a heartbreaker to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 17 and will have to travel to Philadelphia for an AFC wild card matchup. Russell Wilson has been phenomenal at quarterback for most of the year, but Seattle has fallen on hard times down the home stretch. It lost two of its running backs to season-ending injuries in Week 16 and is also has a struggling offensive line. However, the Seahawks remain one of the best clutch teams in the NFL and have one their fair share of difficult road games during the Wilson era. It wouldn’t be surprising if Seattle sent the NFC East champions packing, but it’ll still be a challenge.
It seems like the Philadelphia Eagles are always pulling things together last minute, and this time their Week 17 win against the New York Giants helped them win the NFC East and clinch a playoff spot. As usual, they faced a ton of adversity. Philadelphia had some injury scares to their backup signal callers ahead of Week 1, which made them cautious with how they handled the oft-injured Carson Wentz. But the fourth-year quarterback stayed pretty healthy this year and notched career high in passing yards, despite having significant injuries to his main receivers and running backs. Now Wentz will enter the postseason healthy and will have a chance to make his mark on the franchise without Nick Foles in the fold.