Super Wild-Card Weekend returns to the NFL for the second straight year, with a twist.

In addition to the 14-team playoff field instituted following the 2020 season, there will be a postseason “Monday Night Football” game for the first time. It’ll be interesting to see the fallout from that contest and whether Mondays will continue to be utilized in future seasons.

The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans get the week off as the No. 1 seeds in the NFC and AFC, respectively.

Everyone else has to earn their way into the divisional round. Here’s how CNHI Sports Indiana sees the extended weekend playing out:


Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Joe Burrow and the Bengals are one of the league’s hottest teams. They won three straight against the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs to clinch their worst-to-first turnaround in the AFC North before resting their star QB and other key players in a Week 18 loss against the Cleveland Browns.

The Raiders might be the league’s most resilient team, surviving a host of adversity on and off the field to win their final four games and make the playoff field. Derek Carr has had an outstanding season in many ways, but his 14 interceptions might prove to be Vegas’ Achilles’ heel.

Cincinnati took a decisive 32-13 victory against the Raiders in Week 11. This one likely will be closer, but the Bengals are the pick to advance.


Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS

The AFC East rivals split the regular-season series, with each winning on the other’s homefield. Wind was a huge factor in the Patriots’ 14-10 victory in Week 13, and Buffalo answered with a 33-21 win that ultimately determined the division title in Week 16.

There are a lot factors to consider in this rubber match. Bill Belichick is as dangerous as any head coach in the postseason, but he has a rookie quarterback manning the controls in Mac Jones. Bills QB Josh Allen has looked like a star again in recent weeks, but will sub-zero temperatures make his passes harder to catch?

Factoring in Belichick and the freezer-like conditions, expect New England to escape in another close call.


Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX

Philly has the league’s No. 1 rushing offense. The Bucs are No. 3 at stopping the run. This game likely boils down to that most basic battle.

The Eagles need to control the ball and keep Tom Brady on the sideline. They couldn’t do that well enough in a 28-22 loss in Week 6, with Brady throwing for 297 yards and two scores.

Wind and rain could be a factor on game day, but the best bet is the defending Super Bowl champs find a way to again defend their home turf.


Sunday, 4:30 p.m ET., CBS

The only one of this week’s six matchups that is not a regular-season rematch pits the league’s No. 1 offense (Dallas) against the No. 3 defense (San Fran).

As so many playoff games are, this one could be decided by the quarterbacks. Jimmy Garoppolo completed 68.3% of his passes for 3,810 yards with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 games for the 49ers. Dak Prescott completed 68.8% of his attempts for 4,449 yards with 37 touchdowns and 10 picks in 16 games for the Cowboys.

Advantage, Dallas.


Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC

Ben Roethlisberger’s final stand has been a fun story and helped fuel Pittsburgh’s unlikely surge into the AFC’s final playoff spot. But Kansas City has awakened in recent weeks and looks more like the perennial title contender it’s been with Patrick Mahomes under center.

The Chiefs scored a 36-10 victory at home in Week 16, and there’s not a lot of reason to believe this one will play out drastically differently.


Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The weekend’s final game figures to be among its most entertaining. These two NFC West rivals know each other very well and split the season series.

Arizona announced its presence as a playoff threat with a 37-20 victory in Week 4. The star-studded Rams answered with a 30-23 decision 10 weeks later in a game that ultimately determined the division champ.

The Cardinals might get star defender J.J. Watt back for the first time in two months, and L.A. quarterback Matthew Stafford will make just the fourth postseason start of his 13-year career.

He was 0-3 in the playoffs with the Detroit Lions, but the guess here is this is the first time he tastes postseason victory.

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