A lot more attention has been paid in recent years to the NFL’s “Wild-Card Weekend.”
While it’s a huge advantage for the top seeds to have the weekend off, we have seen some of these lower seeds come all the way through to win the Super Bowl.
I have to be honest though. This weekend’s four games are about as pedestrian of a collection as you’ll find.
You have a team in Carolina that doesn’t even have a winning record. You also have an Arizona team that’s had to play the last few games with its No. 3 quarterback. All the teams in action this weekend have some glaring flaws, which at least should make for competitive games.
I don’t believe you’re going to find the Super Bowl finalists from this group of eight. If so, it would be a massive upset in my opinion.
Here’s how I see the weekend games:
• Carolina 20, Arizona 13 — The Panthers earned a home game even though they lost six games in a row at one point. The NFL might want to take a look at this procedure, because Arizona certainly deserves better. The Cardinals are so offensively challenged, though, that I can’t see them winning.
• Pittsburgh 24, Baltimore 21 — If Le’Veon Bell doesn’t play for Pittsburgh, then this thing could take a drastic turn. Baltimore seems to ramp up its game once the playoffs roll around, but quarterback Joe Flacco has been wildly inconsistent. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Baltimore emerges.
• Indianapolis 28, Cincinnati 20 — Indianapolis may be the NFL’s most perplexing team. The Colts have a terrible running game and Andrew Luck runs hot and cold. But Cincinnati’s playoff woes have been well documented and they’re on the road. Tough to go against history.
• Dallas 21, Detroit 17 — If this game was in Detroit, the Cowboys would be a lock because they were 8-0 away from Jerry World. They were just 4-4 at home. The NFL needs for Dallas to win. The Cowboys are far removed from their past glory, but it’s like baseball needing the Yankees to be good and the NBA needing the Celtics and Lakers to be prominent. Detroit has a great defense, but Matthew Stafford is a scattershooter.