And then there were twelve.
The National Football League has concluded its regular season and there are now twelve teams left vying for Super Bowl glory. And appropriately so, the determination for the schedule came down to the final game of the regular season, which saw the Green Bay Packers knock off division rival Detroit Lions late Sunday night on NBC to claim the NFC North title.
Despite Detroit’s high-flying offense which mustered 24 points, the Aaron Rodgers-led Pack put up four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, to clinch the title and ensure a home game this weekend.
Let’s take a look at the schedule for the NFL Playoffs Wildcard Weekend.
Saturday, January 7
The Wildcard weekend will begin on Saturday with a highly-anticipated AFC showdown: the Oakland Raiders visiting the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Raiders, who finished at 12-4, will have to compete without their starting quarterback Derek Carr, as broke his right leg last week and will not be available. This means that Oakland’s best shot at advancing may very well lie with rookie Connor Cook after backup Matt McGloin went out with a shoulder injury Sunday. Houston meanwhile secured the No. 4 seed in the AFC after finishing 10-6 and winning the AFC South. Kickoff will be at 4:35 p.m. EST on ESPN/ABC and the WatchESPN app.
Then it’s off to Seattle Saturday night for a showdown between the Detroit Lions and Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks, who finished 10-5-1, will have the infamous 12th Man behind them against a 9-7 Detroit team that just fell short Sunday night in their quest to win the NFC North and ended the regular season with three consecutive losses. The game will air on NBC and kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. EST.
Sunday, January 8
The AFC Wildcard will continue on Sunday when the No. 6 Miami Dolphins visit the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is looking to capture a third Super Bowl title in his 13th season as quarterback of the Steelers. The Dolphins, meanwhile, are yet another AFC playoff team with quarterback questions. Matt Moore is likely to get the start for Miami in place of Ryan Tannehill, who injured his knee a few weeks ago. CBS has the coverage on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is at 1:05 p.m. ET.
And the opening weekend concludes with a showdown between two historic franchises — the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. The Packers are as hot as can be, having reeled off six straight victories to capture the NFC North at 10-6. The Giants, however, are playing well themselves, as winners of nine of their last 11. Despite the fact that the Giants have the better record, the Packers get to play this one in the friendly (frozen) confines of Lambeau Field. The game will air at 4:40 p.m. ET on FOX.
[image via Dean Bertoncelj – Shutterstock.com]
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