clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Playoffs 2016: Wild Card TV schedule, odds, predictions and previews

New, comments

Here is everything you'll need to watch and follow the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. Three of the four matchups are rematches from the regular season.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs open this weekend with four games spread over two days on Wild Card weekend.

Eight teams will be in action while the top two teams in the AFC and NFC get first-round byes. Those teams getting the week off will host the winners of this weekend's game during next week's Divisional Round.

Just because you're playing during Wild Card weekend doesn't mean a Super Bowl berth is out of the question. Four teams that have made the Super Bowl in the past five seasons opened  the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Playing that extra game can keep teams sharp going into the Divisional Round against teams who were just off for a week.

As for this weekend's game, we'll see a rare situation in terms of both who the favorites are and who is starting at quarterback for the home team.

Every home team is playing with a quarterback who's never made a postseason start, which is a big reason why all four home clubs are underdogs this weekend. Making that even more intriguing is that three of the four games have lines of three points or less, and the biggest favorite is just five points.

Here's a look at this weekend's Wild Card matchups.

Saturday, January 9

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (ESPN and ABC, 4:25 p.m.)

Two months into the regular season, no one could have begun to imagine these two teams would be in the playoffs. Houston struggled en route to a 1-4 start that included a 27-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons, while Kansas City wasn't much better during their 1-5 start.

But somehow, both the Chiefs and Texans battled back to have strong second halves of the season to get back into the playoffs. Kansas City won 10 straight to get into the postseason as a Wild Card team, whereas Houston won seven of their final nine games to win the AFC South division.

This will be a defensive slugfest that pits Kansas City's seventh-ranked defense against Houston's third-ranked defense. The Chiefs will also be looking to end an NFL-record eight-game postseason losing streak amassed over more than two decades.

Odds: Kansas City is a 3-point favorite.

Prediction: Kansas City 21, Houston 10

Submit your prediction!

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (CBS, 8:15 p.m.)

You'd be hard-pressed to find an NFL rivalry right now that's better than Steelers vs Bengals. After the two AFC North rivals split the regular-season series, they'll get a third crack at each other in a do-or-die playoff game. Both of these teams would love nothing more than to end the other's season, and they'll get their chance Saturday night.

These two franchises have combined for nine playoff berths and four division titles since the 2010 season. Unfortunately, when it comes to the postseason, these two teams couldn't be further apart. Pittsburgh has won six Super Bowls while Cincinnati has lost seven straight playoff games dating back to the 1991 season and have never hoisted a Lombardi Trophy.

This year's Bengals club has the potential to do so, but they'll have to get past their biggest rival first.

Odds: Pittsburgh is a 3-point favorite.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 30, Cincinnati 23

Submit your prediction!

Sunday, January 10

Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 1:05 p.m.)

Seattle is in search of a third straight Super Bowl berth while looking to get the bad taste of last year's gut-wrenching loss to the New England Patriots out of their mouths.

On the other side, Minnesota is back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 season in addition to this being Mike Zimmer's first postseason as a head coach. The former Bengals defensive coordinator has quickly built the Vikings into the kind of physical, hard-working unit he built many times in Cincinnati.

The bad news for Zim and the Vikings is Seattle just came to Minnesota three weeks ago and came away with a 38-7 win that was easily the worst loss they've endured this season. Can they find it in them to upset the two-time NFC champs and advance to the Divisional Round?

Odds: Seattle is a 5-point favorite.

Prediction: Seattle 30, Minnesota 17

Submit your prediction!

Green Bay Packers at Washington (FOX, 4:40 p.m.)

Washington is another team no one saw making the playoffs after the first two months of the regular season. They opened with a 2-4 record, but went on to win five of their final six games to claim the NFC East and host a playoff game.

The opposite happened to Green Bay as they opened with a 6-0 start and were a trendy Super Bowl pick. However, the Packers struggled mightily the rest of the way en route to a 4-6 finish that saw them lose the NFC North to Minnesota and will now likely play every game on the road if they're to reach the Super Bowl.

A big reason why these two teams have been so different down the stretch of the regular season is the playoff the two quarterbacks. Amazingly, Kirk Cousins has gone from benchwarmer to superstar, whereas Aaron Rodgers is playing like he's suddenly become average.

ESPN Stats & Info

ESPN Stats & Info

Still, I'm not going against Rodgers and a veteran Packers squad against a Washington team that really just took advantage of a terrible division to win nine games.

Odds: Green Bay is a 1-point favorite.

Prediction: Green Bay 27, Washington 23

Submit your prediction!