NFL Wild Card Round: A look back and a look ahead
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Before I jump into the thrilling chaos of the Wild Card games, I want to take a look back at one of the NFL seasons this century. And no, I’m not just saying that.
- Nearly half (45%) of games this season were decided by six points or fewer, which is the most since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002. Truly bringing the drama.
Let’s look at a few other numbers that defined the season:
- 69: The number of different starting quarterbacks (QBs), breaking the previous record of 64.
- 25: The number of teams that finished with a winning percentage over .400, tied for the league record. Talk about parity.
- 3 years, 3 months: The length of time between the last Buffalo Bills kickoff return touchdown and from Nyheim Hines, all while wearing a No. 3 stitched on his jersey for Damar Hamlin, from his hospital room. Chills.
- 3: The number of Florida-based teams in the playoffs, marking the first time since 1999 that the state is fully represented.
- 1: The number of losing seasons QB Tom Brady’s had in his 23-year NFL career after his (still playoff-bound) Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their last game of the season to the Atlanta Falcons, finishing 8-9 on the year.
Okay, enough reminiscing, let’s get to this week’s action.
For just the fifth time since the , every game of the opening round of the playoffs is a rematch from the regular season. Here are two where I’ll have :
Miami Dolphins vs. Bills, Sunday at 1 p.m. ET: The ‘Fins star QB Tua Tagovailoa (pronounced TUNG-o-vai-LO-a), who remains in concussion protocol.
- Meanwhile, Buffalo is riding a seven-game win streak and coming off a monster 35–23 performance against the New England Patriots last week. The Bills, playing at home, for Damar? Lock it in.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Buccaneers, Monday at 8:20 p.m ET: In what could be Brady’s (again), he’ll attempt to lead his Bucs to glory and maintain his perfect against the Cowboys.
- Can he do it again? TBD, but I know he won’t go down without a must-watch fight, so I’ll add a bet on Brady to throw for over 275.5 yards here, too.