There’s a decidedly different tenor to Wild Card weekend. It’s a round of games that inevitably feels far more competitive than the Divisional Round. This isn’t terribly complicated to figure out: Whoever advances here has to face higher seeds that benefitted from a week of rest. Invariably, though, there are always some upsets, so the conference title games don’t usually end up with the top two teams playing each other. And in the Super Bowl, anything can really happen, from last-second field goals (made or missed) to complete and utter blowouts.
But Wild Card weekend is the best. The teams are more evenly matched. Home-field advantage feels more important because of said evenness. The idea of a No. 6 seed upsetting a No. 3 isn’t a foreign concept by any means. And some of the most dramatic games in the history of the NFL have taken place in Wild Card contests. Brush past this weekend’s slate of games at your own peril, basically.
My spidey sense tells me that Seattle, which is way better than your normal No. 6 seed, could give No. 3 Minnesota everything it can handle. And Cincinnati, which again will need to rely on A.J. McCarron at quarterback, must host Pittsburgh, which up until a couple of weeks ago was the Team No One Wanted to Face in the playoffs. Then again, you’ve also got Houston-Kansas City and Green Bay-Washington, which, you know, something fun could happen in those games! You just never know, so might as well watch just to be safe.
But before those events unfold, let’s take a peek at past memorable Wild Card matchups — and hope someone this weekend takes their place on this list.