The allure of NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend – which will span three days once again, thanks to the expansion of the postseason field – is the wall-to-wall action.
There are two games Saturday, starting in the afternoon, followed by three games Sunday. Then there’s the Monday night game. By the end of it all, you could spend in the neighborhood of 20 hours watching football this weekend.
That’s a lot of time. People may not have other priorities, per se, but there are other commitments and obligations to attend to. Fear not.
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Here, we rank all six wild card matchups by ‘watchability’ and determine which ones are most worthy of your attention.
6. Ravens at Bengals
If quarterback Lamar Jackson were playing for the Ravens, perhaps this game would be much higher on this list. If Tyler Huntley were playing quarterback for the Ravens, maybe it wouldn’t even be last. But Huntley is questionable with shoulder tendinitis, setting up undrafted rookie Anthony Brown Jr. as the potential starter in Cincinnati. Furthermore, these two teams played each other last week in a game that already had significant stakes attached to it, even if the AFC North had already been decided. The primetime slot for this one is a headscratcher.
Time/channel: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
5. Seahawks at 49ers
Beating a team three times in one season is difficult, but it’s what the 49ers must do to host a divisional round contest next week. The Seahawks lost five of their last eight games and needed the Detroit Lions to defeat the Green Bay Packers to sneak into the playoff field. Meanwhile, the 49ers have won 10 in a row, five of which have been started by Brock Purdy, who originally began the year third on the depth chart. The early time slot Saturday is a good fit for this matchup.
Time/channel: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
4. Dolphins at Bills
All of America will be sweet on the Bills this postseason, and this game would be a better watch if a third-string quarterback (Skylar Thompson) wasn’t starting for the Dolphins. The two teams played a ‘snow bowl’ classic last month, in which the Bills were victorious, and the Dolphins bested them in an early-season matchup in Miami. With all of that going against this game, Josh Allen, the Bills defense and love for Damar Hamlin make this one an ideal way to kick off a long Sunday of playoff football viewing.
Time/channel: Sunday 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
3. Giants at Vikings
Fans of both teams won’t have to jog their memory much to remember that Vikings kicker Greg Joseph nailed a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give Minnesota a 27-24 win on Christmas Eve. The Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones’ comeback effort against Justin Jefferson and the Vikings came up short, but set the stage for an enticing rematch.
Time/channel: Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
2. Chargers at Jaguars
With the college football season officially over, the Saturday night primetime slot for wild-card weekend belongs to the NFL. While that was previously used to perhaps hide an unintriguing game, the NFL has the opportunity to showcase two of its bright, young quarterbacks: Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert and Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence.
Time/channel: Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
1. Cowboys at Buccaneers
They save the best for last. It’s Tom Brady. It’s the Cowboys in the playoffs. It’s ‘Monday Night Football.’
A blowout or wholly unwatchable game is a distinct possibility, but there is a break in case of emergency option if it goes that way: the ‘Manningcast.’
Time/channel: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN)
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.