What drama will the NFL playoffs ship this yr? Watch all 13 postseason video games reside on Sky Sports
The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend, reside on Sky Sports NFL, with Super Wild Card Weekend – six mouth-watering matchups stretched over three days – however forward of the entire thrills and spills of the postseason, here is your information to every of the 14 groups set to battle it out for the Super Bowl this season…
1) Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)
Head coach: Andy Reid is into his tenth season with the Chiefs, and this workforce has identified solely success since he is been there, lacking out on the playoffs simply as soon as in 2014 – albeit nonetheless securing a successful report at 9-7, the one time his workforce failed to achieve 10 wins.
Key man: The uber-talented Patrick Mahomes, after all. The 27-year-old is favorite to win a second league MVP title this season in simply his fifth yr as a starter within the NFL.
A have a look at a few of the finest performs from Patrick Mahomes this season, in his bid to seize a second league MVP award
Mahomes set a brand new report for probably the most offensive yds (5,614) in NFL historical past this season – breaking down as 5,250 passing yards, 358 rush yards and 6 receiving. He additionally leads the league in passing TDs, with 41, six higher than the 35 of each Josh Allen (Bills) and Joe Burrow (Bengals). And he is performed all of it regardless of the workforce buying and selling away his finest receiver, Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins, within the offseason.
NFL Super Wild Card Weekend reside on Sky Sports
Saturday double-header NFC: Seattle Seahawks (7) @ San Francisco 49ers (2) Saturday, 9.30pm, Sky Sports NFL & Main Event AFC: Los Angeles Chargers (5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4) Sunday, 1.15am, Sky Sports NFL & Main Event Sunday triple-header AFC: Miami Dolphins (7) @ Buffalo Bills (2) Sunday, 6pm, Sky Sports NFL NFC: New York Giants (6) @ Minnesota Vikings (3) Sunday, 9.30pm, Sky Sports NFL & Main Event AFC: Baltimore Ravens (6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3) Monday, 1.15am, Sky Sports NFL & Main Event Monday Night Football NFC: Dallas Cowboys (5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4) Tuesday, 1.15am, Sky Sports NFL & Main Event
Form information: It could not be significantly better. The Chiefs received the AFC West division title for a seventh-straight season – not solely the longest lively streak within the league, however tied for the second-longest in NFL historical past behind solely the 11-straight years the Patriots received the AFC East from 2009 to 2019.
They have a first-round bye within the playoffs because of clinching the No 1 seed within the AFC with a 14-3 report. Though, two of these defeats got here towards the Bills and the Bengals, each their greatest challengers within the convention as they appear to achieve the Super Bowl once more.
Playoff historical past: Kansas City lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy on their first go to to the Super Bowl in 50 years after they beat the 49ers to cap the 2018 season, with Mahomes named MVP after engineering a comeback from 20-10 down halfway by means of the fourth quarter.
They have made all of it the best way to the Super Bowl on 4 events, shedding to the Packers within the very first Super Bowl, earlier than triumphing over the Vikings three years later. After their Super Bowl LIV win over the Niners, the Chiefs missed the possibility to go back-to-back as they have been crushed by Tom Brady and the Bucs within the massive recreation. Last yr it was the Bengals who proved their undoing within the AFC Championship recreation.
Playoff prospects: The Chiefs reside for that convention title recreation. They’ve hosted it in every of the final 4 seasons. That will certainly be the case once more this yr, besides in the event that they have been to fulfill Buffalo. That potential matchup will as a substitute happen at a impartial web site in Atlanta because of the Bills lacking out on the possibility to themselves declare the No 1 seed (and residential benefit) as their Week 17 recreation towards the Bengals was cancelled following the cardiac arrest suffered by Damar Hamlin on the sphere.
2) Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Head coach: Sean McDermott has proven unimaginable management this yr, not solely in main the workforce to a different spectacular report this season, however significantly in rallying his workforce over the previous fortnight following the traumatic occasions of that Monday evening recreation towards the Bengals by which Hamlin was hospitalised. Thankfully, the workforce have been capable of have a good time Hamlin’s outstanding restoration final weekend with an emotional win over the Patriots by which Nyheim Hines extremely returned TWO kick-off return touchdowns devoted to his team-mate.
Nyheim Hines returns the opening kick-off of the Bills’ recreation towards the Patriots for a landing to spark wild celebrations in Buffalo!
Nyheim Hines scores an unimaginable second kick-off return TD for the Bills in the identical recreation towards the Patriots
Key man: Speaking of the management, Josh Allen additionally continues to point out outstanding poise on and off the sphere. On it, he completed this yr with 4,283 passing yards and 35 touchdowns – second solely to Mahomes – in addition to an enormous 762 yards and 7 scores on the bottom.
Watch the very best performs from an unimaginable 2022 season by Bills quarterback Josh Allen
Form information: Shock back-to-back losses on the Jets and at dwelling to the Vikings (in an time beyond regulation thriller) – simply a few weeks faraway from beating the Chiefs in Kansas City – dropped the workforce to 6-3 on the season. It not solely sparked considerations that Buffalo had once more blown their probability to boss the AFC, however that they may not even declare the division title in a aggressive AFC East.
But they’ve not misplaced since, successful seven in a row, although that cancelled Week 17 recreation towards Cincinnati finally price them the No 1 seed to ensure that the street to the Super Bowl ran by means of Buffalo. Should they make it to the AFC Championship recreation, they are going to not less than swap Arrowhead for Atlanta, nonetheless.
Playoff historical past: Not nice. The Bills are one among solely two groups, together with the Vikings, to have misplaced 4 Super Bowls and never win one… all of theirs coming in succession too in 4 heart-breaking near-misses within the early Nineteen Nineties. Since then, simply making the postseason has confirmed an issue – Buffalo suffered a drought of 18 years that was lastly led to 2017.
Since drafting Allen with the seventh total choose within the 2018 Draft, he has propelled this workforce into one other stratosphere, however they’re nonetheless but to recover from the hump and attain a fifth Super Bowl – not to mention win a primary. Mahomes and the Chiefs have been their undoing the previous two years, firstly within the AFC Championship recreation earlier than they then misplaced 42-36 in an time beyond regulation epic in final yr’s divisional spherical – a recreation by which the Bills had led by three with simply 13 seconds left!
The Buffalo dwelling crowd present their help for Damar Hamlin forward of their recreation towards the Patriots
Playoff prospects: Many folks have the Bills pegged as this yr’s ‘workforce of future’. It’s not possible to look at the Hamlin tributes – and Hines kick-off TDs – that stirred up such a sensational ambiance in Buffalo final weekend and never additionally get swept up in it. Could this lastly the yr the Bills go all the best way?
3) Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Head coach: Despite the astronomical success the Bengals have loved over the previous two years, Zac Taylor hasn’t at all times satisfied the plenty, with many believing final yr’s run to the Super Bowl and their 12-4 report this season is owed extra to the brilliance of Joe Burrow at quarterback. Into solely his fourth yr as a head coach, Taylor definitely has time on his facet to show the doubters fallacious – with Burrow firmly in his nook, he is going nowhere anytime quickly.
Key man: A 3rd workforce within the convention and a 3rd quarterback to focus on. You want a three-sided coin to separate these QBs, with Joe Burrow becoming a member of Allen tied for second with 35 passing TDs this season (a brand new profession excessive), trailing solely Mahomes’ 41.
A have a look at a few of this season’s finest performs from Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow this season
Burrow’s first profession assembly with Allen was finally cancelled because of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest on the sphere early within the recreation, however he’s the one QB within the league to face Mahomes a number of instances and be undefeated, successful all three of their earlier matchups – together with when knocking the Chiefs out in final yr’s AFC Championship recreation.
Form information: The Bengals are second solely to the 49ers’ 10-staight wins by way of kind heading into the playoffs, themselves using an eight-game win streak into Super Wild Card Weekend. That run features a win over Kansas City in Week 13 in addition to a cushty 27-16 overcome their opponents within the opening spherical of the playoffs, the Ravens, final Sunday.
Highlights of the Ravens’ conflict with the Bengals in Week 18 of the NFL
Playoff historical past: The Bengals are one of many 12 groups within the NFL to have by no means received the Super Bowl, whereas their three defeats with out having tasted victory within the massive recreation is second solely to the Bills and Vikings’ undesirable report of 4.
After falling foul of the 49ers twice within the Eighties, Cincinnati sensationally made all of it the best way again to the Super Bowl final season, following a barren run of 31 years with out a lot as even a playoff win, however Burrow an co finally got here unstuck towards the Rams, regardless of having held a 10-point lead at one level halfway by means of the third quarter.
Playoff prospects: The Bengals determine to be a contender but once more this yr, although the street to the Super Bowl possible runs by means of each Buffalo AND Kansas City. They’ll want Burrow to return up clutch for them but once more towards Mahomes ought to they efficiently navigate each the Ravens and the Bills within the early rounds.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
Head coach: Doug Pederson has engineered fairly the turnaround in Jacksonville after the determined debacle that was Urban Meyer’s one-year tenure with the workforce. The former Eagles head coach received a Super Bowl with Philadelphia in 2017 earlier than issues started to show bitter, however he has demonstrated his stellar credentials by delivering only a fourth division title to the Jaguars within the franchise’s 28-year historical past – and following on from a league-worst 3-14 report final season.
Key man: Yet one other workforce, one more quarterback to focus on. But it is merely not possible to handle the Jaguars’ success with out mentioning the enormous leap taken by their second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Check out the very best performs from Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence from the 2022 season
The No 1 total choose within the 2021 Draft, Lawrence struggled mightily in his rookie season, throwing for simply 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (tied for the league lead). Fast-forward 12 months and people stats learn, 4,113 passing yards, 25 TDs and solely eight picks.
Form information: The Jaguars journey a five-game win streak into their first postseason look for 5 years, with Lawrence himself noting the tide started to show for each the workforce and in his private play following the loss to the Denver Broncos in London again in late October that dropped them to 2-6 on the season. They’ve misplaced solely twice since, an comprehensible defeat in Kansas City and a blowout in Detroit by which their star QB was on and off the sphere to harm.
The Jaguars went on a five-game win streak, ending high of the AFC South and sealing their spot within the playoffs
Playoff historical past: The Jaguars are one of many youngest franchises within the NFL, having solely fashioned in 1995. They have by no means been to a Super Bowl, although they’ve come shut on a couple of event.
Jacksonville loved outstanding success early on as a franchise, reaching the AFC Championship recreation in simply their second season, after which repeating the trick three years later. However, a fallow interval would comply with, with the Jags making the playoffs simply twice (successful one recreation) over the following 17 years, earlier than they once more reached the AFC title recreation in 2017 solely to be edged out by Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Playoff prospects: It’s unlikely the Jaguars will match these earlier runs to the convention championship ultimate this season. Just a lone win on Super Wild Card Weekend will very a lot be seen as progress for this franchise – and they need to fancy their probabilities of that too, as they welcome within the Chargers on Saturday evening, who they hammered 38-10 earlier within the season.
5) Los Angeles Chargers (10-7)
Head coach: Brandon Staley is one other who, regardless of the success the Chargers have loved, possible does not really feel all too safe in his place. If they go one-and-done within the playoffs, hyperlinks to former Saints Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton might develop ever stronger.
Key man: It’s one other of the AFC’s bumper crop of younger, famous person QBs, Justin Herbert. The third-year signal-caller’s 4,739 yards is second solely to Mahomes this season, although his 25 landing passes is a reasonably important drop off to his 38 in 2021. Running again Austin Ekeler is definitely deserving of a few of the blame, having hoovered up an enormous 18 for himself this season.
Check out all of Austin Ekeler’s 18 touchdowns for the Chargers this yr, probably the most by anybody within the common season in 2022
Form information: With this proficient squad having missed out on the postseason final yr, questions have been being requested after they dropped to 6-6 earlier within the marketing campaign, however four-straight wins adopted to e-book a wild card berth and ease the stress considerably on Staley – just for it to ratchet up once more final weekend. In defeat to the Broncos, the pinnacle coach was criticised for retaining his starters within the recreation regardless of their postseason seeding already being assured. Star receiver Mike Williams was one among quite a few gamers banged up in Denver, leaving with a again harm, and he’ll find yourself lacking their playoff opener on Saturday.
Playoff historical past: The Chargers have solely ever as soon as earlier than reached the Super Bowl, to cap the 1994 season, as they suffered a 49-26 shellacking by the hands of the 49ers. Other than that, there’s not been a terrific deal to jot down dwelling about for the franchise, apart from three additional journeys to the AFC Championship recreation – in back-to-back seasons to start out the Eighties and, most lately, in 2007.
Playoff prospects: As already talked about, the Chargers went all the way down to a heavy 38-10 defeat at dwelling to the Jaguars of their earlier assembly this season. But that was manner again in Week Three, and with Herbert nursing a rib harm. It needs to be much more aggressive a contest this weekend, with a frightening journey to Kansas City awaiting the winner – except the Ravens ought to upset the Bengals, by which case it might be off to Buffalo. Either manner, count on the Chargers to once more come unstuck on the divisional spherical ought to they make it that far.
6) Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
Head coach: Widely thought-about to be the most effective coaches within the NFL, John Harbaugh is 15 years deep into his tenure in Baltimore, one which has introduced him one Super Bowl (2012) and now 10 playoff appearances.
John Harbaugh has led the Ravens again to the postseason in 2022
Key man: With it wanting more and more unlikely that star quarterback Lamar Jackson will probably be match sufficient to play this weekend, having missed the final 5 video games of the common season with a knee harm, it is tough to know who to single out as the important thing man for this workforce.
Tight finish Mark Andrews is a beast, however can he have the identical influence with out Jackson beginning at QB? We also needs to single out the very best kicker within the league, Justin Tucker… particularly given how essential it’s to have a dependable one to fireside it by means of the uprights relatively than doink one off them within the postseason. But we will qo with linebacker Roquon Smith Jr. right here, who has excelled in Baltimore since a mid-season commerce from Chicago – a lot in order that he has agreed in precept to a five-year, $100m contract extension with the workforce this week. Smith completed the 2022 season with a career-high 169 tackles (third within the NFL), 4.5 sacks and three interceptions, seeing him named to his first profession Pro Bowl.
Form information: The Ravens are relatively limping into the playoffs, with Jackson’s harm struggles looming over the workforce and leading to three defeats in 4 – together with to their Super Wild Card Weekend opponents, the Bengals, final Sunday – to complete the season. Baltimore’s offense has failed to attain greater than 17 factors in every of their final six video games, with the primary of that streak being the very recreation towards the Broncos by which Jackson left to harm.
Playoff historical past: The Ravens and the Buccaneers are the one franchises within the NFL to have performed in a number of Super Bowls (two) and have by no means misplaced one. The final of these victories got here in 2012 over the 49ers and, whereas Baltimore have made the postseason in half of their 10 seasons since, they’ve received simply two video games, with their exit in 2019 to the Titans – when the No 1 seed within the AFC – a very painful one to take.
Playoff prospects: Sunday’s assembly would be the first ever between the Ravens and Bengals within the playoffs. Baltimore are important underdogs – particularly if Jackson just isn’t enjoying – and so their prospects of a Super Bowl run all the best way to Arizona on February 12 look, fairly frankly, slim to none.
7) Miami Dolphins (9-8)
Head coach: Mike McDaniel has loved a difficult, albeit profitable, first yr on the job in Miami. The rookie head coach has needed to take care of shedding his quarterback to a number of concussions this season, inserting a higher highlight on the organisation and his management of it.
Key man: With beginning QB Tua Tagovailoa dominated out of their Super Wild Card Weekend contest in Buffalo, can the Dolphins discover a option to nonetheless get their famous person receiver Tyreek Hill the soccer?
Dolphins star Tyreek Hill is second within the NFL in receiving yards this season
Hill completed the yr with 1,710 yards, second behind solely Justin Jefferson for the Vikings within the NFL, whereas his mark was additionally a report for a participant of their first season with a brand new workforce. His influence in Miami has been sizeable.
Form information: The Dolphins have been the definition of ‘streaky’ this season. They opened with three-straight wins, adopted that up with three defeats in succession, earlier than occurring a five-game win streak, solely to then succumb to 5 consecutive losses. It left them 8-8 and on the skin of the playoff image, till squeaking a win over the Jets of their regular-season finale which, added to a loss for the Patriots in Buffalo, noticed them e-book their place within the postseason.
Highlights of the Jets’ conflict with the Dolphins in Week 18 of the NFL
Playoff historical past: The Dolphins dominated the early Seventies, reaching three consecutive Super Bowls and successful the latter two of these – in 1972 and 1973. The first of these championship wins clinched an undefeated season they usually stay, to at the present time, the one workforce to realize that feat.
Two additional journeys to the Super Bowl got here within the early Eighties, however they have been defeated in each video games, the second of which got here in legendary Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino’s second season within the NFL. The franchise has been starved of success ever since, reaching the AFC Championship recreation solely twice within the close to 4 a long time since, whereas they’re with no single playoff win for the reason that yr 2000.
The Dolphins will probably be with out beginning quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for his or her Super Wild Card Weekend recreation towards the Bills
Playoff prospects: Starved of playoff success within the 22 years since, it does not appear to be that barren run goes to finish this season. The Dolphins have one of the explosive offenses within the NFL – or not less than did have when Tagovailoa was match and firing – however the problem of going into Buffalo and beating the Bills of their dwelling stadium on Sunday seems to be past them. Should they pull off the upset, it is going to certainly go down as one of many biggest in playoff historical past.
The Bills and the Dolphins went head-to-head in two traditional matches in 2022 – watch the very best of the motion forward of their playoff matchup on Sunday!
1) Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
Head coach: Nick Sirianni is likely one of the favourites to win NFL coach of the yr honours, having led the Eagles to the No 1 seed within the NFC in simply his second season in cost in Philadelphia.
Key man: He has been out for a lot of the previous few weeks to harm, nevertheless it’s nonetheless quarterback – and league MVP candidate – Jalen Hurts.
Check out the very best performs of the 2022 NFL season so removed from MVP hopeful Jalen Hurts
Hurts returned to the fold final weekend for a relatively rusty outing towards the Giants which the Eagles received 22-16 to make sure they held off the 49ers’ late problem for high spot within the convention. The first-round bye (in addition to home-field benefit by means of the playoffs) that it affords Philadelphia will probably be essential for Hurts in additional aiding his restoration from a shoulder harm which he picked up in Week 15 towards the Bears.
Bar that setback, it has been a profession yr for Hurts, who completed the common season with 3,701 passing yards and 22 touchdowns to solely six interceptions, including an additional 760 yards and a staggering 13 scores on the bottom. The dual-threat QB is the primary participant within the Super Bowl period to rank within the high 5 in each passer score (101.5) and speeding TDs in the identical season.
Form information: The Eagles held the NFL’s finest report for almost all of the season, having served because the league’s final remaining undefeated workforce till they have been taken down by the Commanders in Week 10. An extra five-game successful run adopted earlier than back-to-back defeats of their star quarterback’s absence – to the Cowboys and the Saints – that threatened to undo all of their exhausting work prior. No concern, as Hurts returned to place issues proper with a season-ending win over the Giants final Sunday.
Highlights of the Giants’ conflict with the Eagles in Week 18 of the NFL
Playoff historical past: The Eagles, up till their lone Super Bowl win in 2017, had been a long-suffering franchise and fan base. They made the Super Bowl solely as soon as prior, in 1980 – shedding to the Raiders – and in any other case endured 29 postseason-less years from 1960 till the flip of the millennium.
Since then, the franchise’s fortunes have modified, with the Eagles persistently competing with the higher class of the NFL, reaching four-straight NFC Championship video games below now-Chiefs coach Andy Reid within the early 2000s, the final of which secured them a second journey to the Super Bowl the place they have been crushed by Brady and the Patriots. Thirteen years later, they’d finally get their revenge towards the exact same workforce and QB, triumphing 41-33 in a very epic encounter at Super Bowl LII.
Playoff prospects: The Eagles are the No 1 seed for a purpose, so they may very nicely discover themselves representing the NFC in Super Bowl LVII in Arizona come February 12. That mentioned, is all of it a little bit early on this new Sirianni-led period? They will probably be eager to keep away from a gathering with the wily previous veterans over in San Francisco come the convention championship ultimate.
2) San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
Head coach: Kyle Shanahan is taken into account the most effective head coaches within the league, and maybe the sport’s biggest offensive thoughts. The 2022 season has been an actual testomony to that, with San Francisco all the way down to their third-string quarterback – rookie seventh-round draft choose Brock Purdy – and but they’ve posted 13 wins this season, using 10 in a row into the playoffs.
Watch the very best performs from 49ers rookie QB Brock Purdy, main the workforce on a six-game successful streak as a starter
Key man: One of the explanations the 49ers have been so good this yr is their depth as a squad, possessing expertise at each place – thus making the job of choosing out only one star participant extraordinarily tough. There’s Christian McCaffrey at working again – a sensational mid-season addition through commerce from Carolina – in addition to the soon-to-be-returning-from-injury Deebo Samuel at receiver and star tight finish George Kittle, in addition to the aforementioned, unflappable Purdy at QB.
Check out the very best performs from 49ers working again Christian McCaffrey from the 2022 season
On protection, Fred Warner at linebacker, Talanoa Hufanga at security and Charvarius Ward at cornerback are all worthy of point out, nevertheless it’s move rusher extraordinaire Nick Bosa who finally will get the nod. Bosa is a one-man quarterback wrecking crew on the line of defense and his league-leading 18.5 sacks this season – on the NFL’s No 1 ranked protection – has possible secured him defensive participant of the yr honours.
Form information: The Niners are the most well liked workforce within the NFL coming into the playoffs, successful their final 10 straight. Their final loss got here all the best way again in Week Seven, a 44-23 drubbing by the Chiefs.
Since, the protection has stepped up massively, permitting over 20 factors simply as soon as in that 10-game streak, of their 37-34 time beyond regulation victory over the Raiders in Week 17. Meanwhile, over the identical stretch the San Francisco offense has surpassed 30 factors on seven separate events.
Neil Reynolds and Jeff Reinebold talk about the streaking San Francisco 49ers as they head into the playoffs as the shape workforce within the NFL, with 10-straight wins
Playoff historical past: The 49ers are one of the profitable franchises in Super Bowl historical past, with their 5 wins degree with the Cowboys and bettered solely by the Steelers and Patriots (each six) – and Brady’s seven.
That mentioned, San Francisco final tasted success almost three a long time in the past within the 1994 season, and have misplaced their two journeys since – in 2012 and to Mahomes’ Chiefs in 2019. They very almost made it again to the large dance once more final yr, solely to lose out to the Rams in a super-tight NFC Championship battle.
Playoff prospects: One of the favourites. The Eagles could nicely maintain the No 1 seed within the convention, however many view San Francisco as the most important menace out of the NFC.
3) Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
Head coach: Kevin O’Connell has been an enormous success in his rookie season as head coach, lifting the vibe in Minnesota after Mike Zimmer’s more and more depressing tenure.
Key man: It needs to be Justin Jefferson. It has been a while since a receiver has taken the league by storm in fairly the best way Jefferson has in 2022, main many to wonder if he could possibly be the primary wideout in NFL historical past to stroll away with league MVP honours?
A have a look at the very best catches from Vikings star Justin Jefferson this season, arguably the one vast receiver in with a shout of successful the MVP award
Jefferson led the NFL with 128 rec and 1,809 receiving yds, including eight touchdowns, as he flirted with turning into the primary to ever high 2,000 receiving yards in a single season. He is one among solely six folks to have an 1,800-yard yr within the historical past of the sport – and pulled off one of many biggest catches of all time towards the Bills earlier within the season.
Form information: The Vikings, one of many NFL’s elite in 2022? Or pure imposters?
Even this late within the season, many are nonetheless but to be satisfied by Minnesota, regardless of their spectacular 13-4 report. That’s as a result of, 11 of these wins got here in super-tight, one-score video games – a brand new NFL report for a single season. Meanwhile, included amongst their 4 defeats was a 24-7 hammering by the hands of the Eagles, a 40-3 shellacking from the Cowboys and a 41-17 drubbing by the Packers only a fortnight in the past. It all signifies that the Vikings enter the postseason with a -3 factors differential, staggering actually for a workforce with 9 extra wins than losses on the season.
Playoff historical past: As talked about earlier, the Vikings are one of solely two groups, together with the Bills, to have misplaced 4 Super Bowls and never style victory. Minnesota’s depressing stretch spanned the Seventies, as they missed out in 1969, 1973, 1974 and once more in 1976.
They have gotten so far as the Conference Championship recreation six instances since, however not again to the large dance. Their most up-to-date flirtation got here 5 seasons in the past when Stefon Diggs – now with the Bills – scored the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’ landing within the ultimate seconds of a divisional spherical win over the Saints, just for the Vikings to be hammered by eventual Super Bowl winners, the Eagles, per week later.
Playoff prospects: It relies upon the way you view their season as a complete thus far? Is this a clutch workforce that comes up greatest with the sport on the road, repeatedly squeaking out one-score wins? Or, are they merely unable to really put inferior opposition away, discovering themselves outclassed too when dealing with a workforce that could be a step up in high quality?
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
Head coach: Todd Bowles has but to persuade as a head coach within the NFL. While with the Jets for 4 years from 2015, his rookie season in cost was the one time he returned a successful report. His tremendous work as defensive coordinator with the Buccaneers finally led to his promotion following the retirement of Super Bowl-winner Bruce Arians, and although Tampa received the NFC South division title this season, the 8-9 report that Bowles has presided over does not scream success.
Could Tom Brady win an eighth Super Bowl title the season on the age of 45 years previous?
Key man: There actually might be no wanting previous Tom Brady. He is 45 years previous and but nonetheless performing to a really excessive degree. He retired within the offseason, earlier than shortly reversing his choice and coming again for another yr – maybe much more nonetheless past this season, although which may rely on his success within the playoffs.
It has not precisely been classic Brady this season, although there nonetheless are no apparent indicators of decline that you simply’d count on from a person of his age. Despite struggling the very first shedding season of his profession in 2022, he’s nonetheless as excessive as third within the league for passing yards (4,694) and has proven flashes of the previous Brady brilliance, none extra so than in Week 17 towards the Panthers, with three deep landing passes – all to Mike Evans – and a speeding rating which helped clinched the division title.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady scored 4 touchdowns because the Bucs confirmed their playoff spot with a win over the Panthers
Form information: An actual combined bag. The Bucs have did not string greater than two wins collectively at any level within the yr, thus the prospect of them pulling off 4 in a row to finally win the Super Bowl seems unlikely.
A 3-game shedding streak to drop them to 3-5 halfway by means of the season was as unhealthy because it bought, with Tampa capable of nearly keep afloat on the high of a poor NFC South division for the rest of the yr to make sure their progress by means of to the playoffs.
Playoff historical past: The Bucs have been the laughing inventory of the league for 20 years following their inception in 1976. They made the playoffs solely thrice over that interval, successful only one recreation, whereas they failed to achieve the postseason in any respect between 1983 and 1997.
A primary Super Bowl look and title would comply with in 2002, constructed off the again of a fearsome protection, however then 18 extra fallow years adopted by which Tampa did not win a playoff recreation, together with one other 12-year absence altogether from 2008 to 2020. But then enter Tom Brady…
In his very first yr with the workforce, he added to his report haul of rings with a seventh Super Bowl title, with the Buccaneers beating the Mahomes and the Chiefs 31-9 within the massive recreation.
Playoff prospects: Sure as eggs are eggs, you by no means write off Brady within the playoffs. NEVER!
This definitely is not the all-conquering Bucs squad of two years in the past, and positive Brady is one other couple of years older and nearer to retirement, however there may be no-one higher in elimination soccer within the historical past of the sport! Plus, Tampa play host to a Cowboys workforce who’ve hit the skids in latest weeks and one which Brady has a 7-0 profession report towards… win their wild card matchup on Monday evening and the NFL world actually will begin taking this Bucs workforce significantly.
5) Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
Head coach: Mike McCarthy is one other below stress, regardless of making the playoffs, and who will probably be nervously wanting over his shoulder on the looming determine of former Saints head coach Payton – long-admired by Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones – ought to issues go awry this weekend.
Key man: Star linebacker Micah Parsons, very like this Cowboys workforce as a complete, has gone off the boil considerably in latest weeks. Parsons had 13.5 sacks in 2022, although simply 1.5 of these have come previously six weeks to possible finish his bid to be named defensive participant of the yr.
Here’s a have a look at a few of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons’ finest sacks in his NFL profession thus far
That mentioned, his expertise is to not be denied, and the important thing to beating Brady over his storied profession has been to convey stress, so Parsons will probably be key to Dallas’ hopes of beating the Bucs of their wild card matchup on Monday evening.
Form information: The Cowboys enter the postseason having received six of their previous eight video games, which could not instantly scream out as any nice trigger for concern. Similarly, their offense (27.5 factors per recreation) and protection (20.1 PPG) each rank within the high 5 for scoring this season.
That mentioned, since placing up 40 factors on the Vikings in Minnesota in Week 11 and hammering the Colts 54-19 a fortnight later – the purpose at which this workforce peaked – some sloppy performances have begun to creep in, most notably when the three-win Texans almost beat them in Dallas and in defeats to the Jaguars and, most notably, a Commanders workforce with nothing to play for final weekend.
Playoff historical past: The Cowboys are one of the profitable franchises in NFL historical past, incomes them the moniker of ‘America’s Team’. But it has been a very long time since Dallas have been actually America’s workforce by way of being the primary workforce within the nation.
The Cowboys’ then-record fifth and ultimate Super Bowl title got here in 1995 with a win over the Steelers in, coincidentally, Arizona. But within the intervening 27 years, Dallas have not a lot as even made the NFC Championship recreation – going 4-11 over that span – whereas the actual fact they’re on the street in Super Wild Card Weekend definitely does not bode nicely for them. The franchise have misplaced their final eight-straight street video games within the playoffs, a streak courting all the best way again to 1992 and the second-longest in postseason historical past, behind the Lions’ 11 from 1970 to 2017.
Playoff prospects: In phrases of pure roster expertise, the Cowboys ought to definitely be within the Super Bowl combine, nevertheless it’s exhausting to shake the sensation that this workforce is a little bit flimsy and flaky, that they cannot be relied upon. A win in Tampa to open the playoffs would go a protracted option to extinguishing these considerations and circling Dallas as a real contender.
6) New York Giants (9-7-1)
Head coach: Rookie head coach Brian Daboll is a critical contender for coach of the yr honours after overseeing a outstanding turnaround of fortunes in New York. The Giants had solely 4 wins to their identify in 2021, with the previous Bills offensive coordinator doubling that in his first yr in cost and reserving a primary playoff look for the franchise in six years.
Key man: Saquon Barkley has been on the coronary heart of the Giants’ success this season, with the star (however injury-prone) working again returning to his finest from in 2022, speeding for a career-high 1,312 yards to go along with 10 TDs. Back match and firing, Barkley will probably be key to how far the Giants progress within the postseason.
The finest performs so removed from New York Giants working again Saquon Barkley within the 2022 NFL season
Form information: It has been a combined bag of late. The Giants got here flying out of the blocks to start out the season, romping to a 6-1 report. In the ten video games since, nonetheless, they’ve received solely three of them – two of which got here towards the Texans and Colts, who mixed for a grand whole of seven victories throughout a mixed 34 contests in 2022. The different win got here towards the Commanders, whereas they tied their different assembly with Washington – a outcome which finally proved essential in securing them a wild card spot on the expense of their division rivals and different NFC contenders.
Playoff historical past: The Giants are one of many oldest and most profitable franchises in NFL historical past. Formed in 1925, they received 4 championships previous to the Super Bowl period, whereas they’ve since matched that report, elevating aloft the Vince Lombardi Trophy 4 instances.
They have tasted success in every of the previous 4 a long time – 1986, 1990, 2007 and 2011 – with their most notable win certainly the third of the bunch, when beating the beforehand undefeated Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. However, they’re but to win a playoff recreation since beating Brady and New England for a second time in 2011.
Playoff prospects: The Giants have already over-achieved this season, so any playoff success from right here on out is a bonus, with not an enormous quantity anticipated of this squad. That mentioned, they’re nicely able to inflicting an upset on Super Wild Card Weekend towards the Vikings, who they pushed all the best way of their earlier assembly in Minnesota in Week 16, the house facet reliant on an enormous 60-yard area objective to win as time expired.
7) Seattle Seahawks (9-8)
Head coach: In securing the final remaining wild card spot within the NFC, Pete Carroll has now reached the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons as head coach of the Seahawks. He received the Super Bowl with the workforce in 2013, however this yr is arguably his most spectacular achievement but – this was a Seattle squad anticipated to prop up the basement in convention following the commerce of their star quarterback Russell Wilson to the Broncos.
Key man: Russell, who? While Wilson has gone on to battle mightily along with his new workforce in Denver, the person who has changed him below middle in Seattle, Geno Smith, has been a revelation. The 32-year-old journeyman backup earlier than this season has not solely led the workforce to the playoffs, however he was named in his first profession Pro Bowl, broke the Seahawks’ single-season passing report (4,282 yards) and led the league in completion proportion (69.8). His 30 passing touchdowns can also be the fourth-best mark within the NFL and the very best within the NFC.
With his trusty wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, Seahawks QB Geno Smith has led his workforce to a shock playoff berth. Here’s a have a look at a few of their finest performs this yr
Form information: Seattle’s problem this yr gave the impression to be fading quick down the stretch. After rollicking out to a shock 6-3 begin to the season, issues started to unravel with defeat to Brady and the Buccaneers within the first ever NFL International Series recreation in Germany. It was the primary of 5 defeats in six video games to derail their playoff push, just for wins towards the Jets and Rams to shut out the marketing campaign – plus a season-ending defeat for the Packers – to see them sneak into the postseason.
Playoff historical past: We’re in acquainted territory for the Seahawks. The franchise has did not make the playoffs in simply 5 of the previous 20 seasons, whereas they’ve received one among three Super Bowl journeys – beating the Broncos in 2013 – throughout that run.
Two of these Super Bowl appearances have come below Carroll, with the workforce failing to repeat in 2014 as Malcolm Butler’s notorious goal-line interception within the ultimate moments of Super Bowl XLIX securing victory for the Patriots. Seattle have did not make it previous the divisional spherical since, whereas they went one-and-done on their most up-to-date journey to the playoffs in 2020, shedding to the Rams.
Playoff prospects: The Seahawks have already manner over-exceeded expectations this season, so might nicely be harmful this weekend towards a much-fancied 49ers facet. That mentioned, San Francisco have received their final 10 in a row and beat Seattle in each of their NFC West divisional matchups this season.
Watch Super Wild Card Weekend, with all six video games from the opening spherical of the playoffs reside on Sky Sports NFL throughout three days, beginning with Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers on Saturday evening from 9.30pm