The 2020 NFL season is in the books and for the first time under the new playoff format, a total of six games will be played on Super Wild Card Weekend. With the addition of one team to both conferences, the number one seed will get the lone bye week while everyone else is in action.
Under the old playoff format, the number two seed would have also had the opening weekend off, but now they’ll host the final Wild Card team. With three games being played on Saturday and Sunday of Super Wild Card Weekend, there are six teams looking to push forward to Super Bowl LV.
However, with half the field being eliminated, six teams will wonder what-if while the other six will move on. But which six will that be?
Without further ado, here is one reason each team could advance to the Divisional Round when the weekend wraps up. This article will focus on the teams playing on Saturday.
Super Wild Card Weekend: Saturday Teams
The 2020 version of the Buffalo Bills has looked drastically different thanks to the strides quarterback Josh Allen has taken. Much of that can be attributed to the accusation of Stefon Diggs, but head coach Sean McDermott — a Coach of the Year candidate — has opened the playbook for his young quarterback. And the results have magnificent for Allen and Buffalo. No longer has Allen been erratic and indecisive with his throws in 2020. Instead, Allen has gone from rookie to an elite-level quarterback in just a short time. If Buffalo is going to return to Super Bowl glory, then it starts and ends with Allen under center.
However, the playoffs present their own challenges knowing there is no tomorrow should Buffalo lose. Last year against the Houston Texans, Allen played exceptionally well only to suffer an incredible heart attack losing in overtime. Last year’s Wild Card game has to be erased from memory as an equally tough Indianapolis Colts team will provide a rushing attack to keep Allen off the field.
After moving on from Andrew Luck after his surprise retirement announcement last season, the Indianapolis Colts signed veteran Philip Rivers to help bridge the gap. In his first season with the team, Indianapolis fell just short of winning the AFC South but have emerged as an interesting Wild Card team. But instead of relying on the 39-year-old Rivers, they’ll look to a youthful performance by Jonathan Taylor — who’s coming off a 253 rushing yard performance in the regular-season finale.
The best way to keep a hot quarterback off the field is by controlling the clock with a potent rushing attack. Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich knows how explosive Buffalo will be this weekend, but employing Taylor and Nyheim Hines early and often could dictate how the game flows on Saturday. Indianapolis cannot fall into a trap meet trading score-for-score with Buffalo, but staying true to their running identity could lead to an upset on Saturday.
Los Angeles Rams
The only thing that has kept the Los Angeles Rams playoff hopes alive has been their stout defense. Jared Goff has been hot and cold, but after suffering a broken thumb, and with his playoff chances of playing in the up in the air, the defense will be the sole reason they move on or go home. And this will be a defense led by one of the greatest defenders of this generation: Aaron Donald. And Donald won’t be alone in the trenches as Jalen Ramsey, Troy Hill, and Leonard Floyd led by defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley, who has the number one defense rolling.
Los Angeles is ranked first in total yards allowed, fewest passing touchdowns, and fewest points surrendered. Regardless of who starts at quarterback for Los Angeles, their game against the Seattle Seahawks will be led by their defense. The adage of “defense wins championships” will ring true for an offense that hasn’t played particularly well in the final stretch.
The one man who has carried the Seattle Seahawks for a number of seasons now will look to do it again this weekend. That man is none other than Russell Wilson. Wilson, once a strong contender for MVP, will have to have an MVP performance in the playoffs that starts with facing a dominant Los Angeles defense. However, Wilson has always been capable of putting together Herculean-like efforts for Seattle in the playoffs. But Seattle has gotten off to some severe slow-starts recently that could still favor them despite not knowing which quarterback they’ll face this weekend.
Seattle has no shortage of gifted players on both sides of the ball, but Wilson needs to come out of the gates firing and return to the MVP form he had for the first half of the season. Putting the ball in the hands of D.K. Metcalf and Chris Carson should take some pressure off, but without the 12th man in attendance, all eyes are on Wilson this postseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a new head coach, and offense, Tom Brady continues to prove why many consider him the GOAT. While it hasn’t been a perfect season in Tampa Bay, an 11 win season, 40+ touchdowns, and over 4,000 passing yards, Brady has played one of his best seasons reminiscent of his former dominant years with the New England Patriots.
The biggest thing Brady will offer this young, inexperienced team in the playoffs will be his wealth of wisdom in January. Brady has played in every playoff scenario you can think of and should Tampa Bay follow his lead, then perhaps they will become the first team to truly register as the home team in the Super Bowl. Despite being 43 years young, Brady’s arm strength has looked as potent as ever with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They say fortune favors the bold. Can Tampa Bay make a deep run against an equally feel-good team?
Washington Football Team
By now, the NFC East has been expunged of all their jokes, and it’s time for the Washington Football Team to let the world know they’re here to play despite their record. There’s a lot to like about this team starting with Alex Smith‘s comeback story, Ron Rivera’s journey with cancer, and Chase Young cashing in on Defensive Rookie of the Year. Washington’s folly with slow starts could be a major problem this weekend, but even with that note, opposing teams continue to let them hang around –which has led to an NFC East title.
Washington will have a huge test right out of the gate in Brady and Tampa Bay, but with the game being played at FedEx Field, Washington should be able to dictate the pace. Smith must play smart football while relying on a pass rush to cause disruptions for four quarters. Not to mention, the previous two division winners with a losing record both won their Super Wild Card Weekend home games. This is a talented team that many have judged for being here, but the pieces are there for a home victory on Saturday.
Looking Ahead To Super Wild Card Weekend
This weekend brings a lot of intriguing matchups on Super Wild Card Weekend. It’s Round Three between Los Angeles and Seattle. Brady and company entering their playoffs against Washington with both teams looking to prove they belong. Buffalo looks to erase all doubt by proving they’re an elite AFC team while Indianapolis looks to make a statement. Let the playoffs begin.
Embed from Getty Images