January 17, 2024
Keegan Poulton

What we Learned From Wild-Card Weekend (2 minute read)

Browns vs Texans (Final: 14 - 45)

Many expected that Joe Flacco’s playoff experience would be enough to overcome rookie CJ Stroud and this Texans team, but that was not the case. Flacco and the Browns’ magical run came to an end, and the game was not even close. Even though it was Stoud’s rookie debut, he looked like a seasoned vet with this performance and combined with that stout Houston Defense; this team is really looking like it could be a formidable force for years to come. What DeMeco Ryan has been able to do in their first season at the helm of this squad is truly remarkable. This team may not survive the next round, but with Stroud leading that offence and young stars like Stingley and Anderson on defence, you really can’t count them out.

Dolphins vs Chiefs (Final: 7-26) 

The Dolphins found themselves heading from that warm Miami weather to playing in one of the coldest games in NFL history. Weather conditions may have played a factor, but Tua and the Dolphins really couldn’t get anything going for the majority of the game. If, for some reason, you didn’t believe it, Patrick Mahomes once again proved why he’s a winner. Unaffected by the weather and Play after play putting his body on the line, this man will really do anything to win. The Chiefs will have to head to Buffalo for the Divisional round, but if they can survive that, I think they might punch their ticket to another Super Bowl.

Packers vs Cowboys (Final: 49-32)

Oh No…The Cowboys have collapsed again. This scoreline might be a little deceiving because it was pretty much all Packers all game. Do you think CJ Stroud had an impressive debut? Well, Jordan Love had a debut of his own that sent the Cowboys home early. This one was definitely a tough one to swallow for Cowboys fans as Dak Prescott and that team had shown flashes throughout the year of a team that had all the pieces to win a championship. 

Rams vs Lions (Final: 23-24)

The QB swap trade a couple of years back that sent Matt Stafford to the Rams and Jared Goff to Detroit was a major storyline for this one. If you remember, Goff was a first-overall pick for the Rams that was traded after years of disappointing seasons, and Stafford was a Lions’ legend holding almost all of Detroit’s passing records. Stafford won a Super Bowl shortly after this move, and for all accounts, it looked like the Rams made the right decision to get rid of Goff. But this weekend, Goff got his revenge, and the matchup between these two quarterbacks did not disappoint. What Dan Campbell has built so far in Detroit is truly astonishing. Year after year, this team has improved and has now solidified themselves as a true contender.  

Steelers vs Bills (Final: 17-31) 

Many didn’t think the Steelers would really have a chance in this one, but hats off to Mason Rudolph and his team for keeping this one relatively close. The Buffalo Bills are bruised up and have their fair share of injuries but have continued to find ways to win games. Khalil Shakir, on the offensive side, had himself a great game. Stepping up in the absence of Gabe Davis and AJ Klein filling in at the linebacker position was truly impressive as the Bills lost another man up the middle to injury. The one player this offence runs through is Josh Allen, and he did not disappoint. Through the air or with his legs, there are not many quarterbacks who are capable of doing what Josh Allen does, and if this team wants to continue to make a push into the playoffs, they will have to rely on him more than ever. This Buffalo team had a 5% chance of making the playoffs but has continued their winning ways and is debatably the hottest team in football. They will have their hands full with the Chiefs. 

Eagles vs Buccaneers (Final: 9-32)

Some say this was the biggest surprise of the first round, but was it really? The Eagles have been reeling over the past couple of weeks, and this loss to the Bucs was truly the nail in the coffin. Jalen Hurts looked out of sorts throughout the game, and those Eagles defenders were having a tough time making tackles. With AJ Brown missing, you could tell that this team was suffering, and Hurts was even at times hearing from his teammates on the sidelines. Even though the Eagles played poorly, you have to acknowledge how well the Bucs played on both sides of the ball and how effectively Baker Mayfield commanded his offence. The former first-overall pick has got his swagger pack and has instilled a new level of confidence in this team. Even though they went 9-8 to finish the regular season, this team definitely thinks that they have a chance. For the Eagles, another disappointing season is in the books. Expect some potential roster and coaching moves this offseason because something needs to change.

Divisional Round Predictions: 

Look for the Bills to overcome the Chiefs at home and for the Ravens to crush the dreams of the Texans in the divisional round. In the NFC, expect the Lions to make quick work of the Buccaneers and for the Packers’ magical run to come to an end in San Francisco.