The New England Patriots might be off this weekend with their first-round bye, but they should have plenty of rooting interest across the Wild Card games.
The Patriots took care of business in Week 17 against an undermanned Jets squad, and now enter the playoffs with a “win” of sorts already in their back pocket. By virtue of their first-round bye, New England now just needs two more wins to reach their fourth Super Bowl in five years.
For eight of the other 11 NFL playoff teams, two wins won’t be enough. The Texans, Colts, Seahawks, Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Eagles, and Bears all need to win this weekend in the Wild Card games just to make it to the next round of the 2018 playoffs: the divisional round, where the Patriots, Chiefs, Rams, and Saints all await them.
If the playoffs this year are anything like the regular season, football fans everywhere are in for a treat.
Before we dive into a week’s worth of coverage and analysis surrounding New England’s divisional round opponent and the matchup they present, it’s worth investigating the various nuances and storylines taking place this weekend in the Wild Card games. The Patriots might know their playoff challenger before the second of the four WC games has even started Saturday: if the Texans beat the Colts, they automatically go to Foxborough next, regardless of what happens between Baltimore and L.A.
That scenario, along with several others in the other games and at home in Massachusetts, bear watching this weekend as the playoffs get underway.