NFL wild-card round championship game choices, schedule, chances

The NFL playoffs’ wild-card round schedule for the 2024 season is stacked with terrific matches, and we have actually got you covered with what you require to understand heading into the weekend. Our NFL Country press reporters bring us the greatest secrets to every video game and a vibrant forecast for each match.

Furthermore, ESPN Statistics & & Info supplies a huge stat to understand and a wagering nugget for each contest, and our Football Power Index (FPI) goes inside the numbers with a video game forecast. Analytics author Seth Walder chooses each match’s greatest X element, Matt Bowen recognizes an essential game-planning match to see in every video game, and Kevin Seifert informs us what to learn about the officiating. Lastly, Walder and Eric Moody provide us last rating choices for each video game. Whatever you need to know is here in one area to assist you prepare for a packed weekend of NFL playoff football

Let’s enter the complete wild-card slate, consisting of Matthew Stafford‘s go back to Detroit and 3 terrific rematches of regular-season matches (Browns-Texans, Eagles-Bucs and Dolphins-Chiefs).

Dive to a match:

Byes: SF, BAL

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET|NBC| Spread: CLE -2 (44.5 )

What to look for: The last time these 2 groups played, Browns pass receiver Amari Cooper completed with a team-record 265 getting lawns in Cleveland’s 36-22 win The Texans didn’t have their beginning quarterback, C.J. Stroud, who remained in concussion procedure, and Case Keenum actioned in and tossed 2 interceptions. The Texans have the utmost self-confidence that they can beat any group when they have Stroud, so anticipate this match to be much various now that he’s healthy. — DJ Bien-Aime

Strong forecast: The Browns will win the turnover fight for just the 3rd time this season. This is the very first playoff match given that the 1970 merger including a group that devoted the league’s most turnovers (Cleveland, 37) versus the group that devoted the least (Houston, 14). The Browns have actually been highlighting ball security in their structure ahead of this match, so that must play in Cleveland’s favor. — Jake Trotter

Stat to understand: Stroud’s weak point is resolving male protection. While he has the greatest QBR in the league versus zone protection (74 ), he ranks 27th versus male (39 ). His QBR decrease of 35.1 is the biggest from zone to male protection this season. This weekend, Stroud will deal with a Browns defense that runs male protection at the 10th-highest rate (47%) and has the very best male defense in the league.

Match X element: Browns cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Martin Emerson Jr— whenever they are lining up on Nico Collins The Texans wideout had an unbelievable season, ranking 2nd in lawns per path run behind just Tyreek Hill If the Browns’ corners can shut him down on any provided play, that seriously diminishes Stroud’s choices. Emerson and Ward are excellent gamers, and this strength-on-strength match might choose the video game. — Walder

Game-plan secret: I’m searching for the Browns to plan some deep shots for quarterback Joe Flacco He had 5 conclusions on passes tossed a minimum of 20 lawns downfield when Cleveland satisfied Houston in Week 16. Can the Texans include the Browns’ vertical death video game? Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen

Injuries: Browns| Texans

Officiating note: This video game will include 2 of the NFL’s a lot of punished groups. The Browns were flagged 138 times, 2nd most in the NFL, while the Texans were No. 5 with 132 flags. And Browns challengers were flagged 133 times, a lot of in the league. Nevertheless, referee Clay Martin’s regular-season team tossed the fourth-fewest flags in the league at 12.4 per video game. — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Texans are 9-3 versus the spread (ATS) in their previous 12 conferences versus the Browns.

Moody’s choice: Texans 24, Browns 21
Walder’s choice: Texans 23, Browns 16
FPI forecast: CLE, 50.5% (by approximately 0.2 points)

Match must-reads: Garrett will not be rejected as Browns start playoff journey How Slowik has actually assisted Stroud stand out as a novice Ward hurts knee in practice, status in concern How Ryans assisted turn-around the Texans

Saturday, 8 p.m. ET|Peacock| Spread: KC -4.5 (43.5 )

What to look for: The Chiefs protected pass receiver Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins about in addition to they might have throughout their Week 9 conference, however doing it a 2nd time will be a difficulty. Kansas City played a season-high 61% zone protection in deference to Miami’s speed and speed. The Chiefs held Hill to 62 lawns and made him fumble, returning it for the definitive goal. A comparable efficiency would provide the Chiefs an excellent opportunity for triumph, however can they duplicate it? — Adam Teicher

Strong forecast: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will toss a set of goals without turning the ball over. The temperature level at Arrowhead Arena is predicted to seem like it’s well into the negatives by Saturday night. Tagovailoa has actually dealt with criticism for his efficiency in winter– he has actually lost all 4 of his starts in sub-45-degree weather condition, finishing simply 55% of his passes. However he will snap out of it, together with his late-season funk. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Stat to understand: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has actually tossed several goal passes in 6 straight postseason video games and enters this weekend seeking to connect Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Drew Brees for the third-longest streak in postseason history.

Match X element: Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce He hasn’t been the very same gamer, and at this moment, it has actually ended up being blindingly clear that pass receiver aid isn’t coming for the Chiefs. They require somebody to be a dominant getting risk, and Kelce is most likely the only gamer on the lineup who can end up being that if he can discover his 2022 kind once again. — Walder



Stephen A.: ‘I’m not providing Miami any hope’ versus Kansas City

Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe concur that Miami might have a hard time on the roadway versus Kansas City today.

Game-plan secret: How will the Chiefs decrease Hill? Getting some two-deep protection variations into the tactical plan will be crucial to including Miami’s explosive pass video game. Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen

Injuries: Dolphins| Chiefs

Officiating note: The Chiefs were flagged regularly for offending holding (33) than any other group, a huge reason they ranked No. 6 general in charges (126 ). This element of the video game would be under more analysis had the Dolphins not suffered a series of injuries to their leading pass-rushers, however it’s still worth keeping in mind that referee Brad Rogers’ regular-season team tossed the second-most flags for offending holding (48 ). — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Dolphins were 10-7 ATS in the routine season with overs going 9-8. The Chiefs were 9-8 ATS in the routine season with unders going 11-6.

Moody’s choice: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 21
Walder’s choice: Dolphins 27, Chiefs 23
FPI forecast: KC, 52.6% (by approximately 0.9 points)

Match must-reads: How Tagovailoa satisfied his objective of 17-game season How Reid opened Kelce Dolphins indication Houston, Irvin for playoffs

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET|CBS| Spread: BUF -10 (35.5 )

What to look for: The roadways that the Expenses and Steelers required to this video game include a spooky variety of resemblances, from losing crucial gamers to injury for stretches to assembling season-ending winning streaks regardless of low playoff chances. Both groups likewise fired their offending planners at midseason, ending up being the very first playoff groups to have an in-season planner modification given that the 2012 Ravens. The Steelers are searching for the group’s very first playoff win given that 2016, while the Expenses are 13-2 in home championship game given that 1970. Restricting quarterback Josh Allen in the postseason will position a difficulty for Pittsburgh, as Allen is the only gamer in NFL playoff history to typical 250 passing lawns and 50 hurrying lawns per video game (minutes. 5 video games) and has actually the greatest integrated typical yardage (343.9 ). — Alaina Getzenberg

Strong forecast: Steelers running back Najee Harris will have his 3rd successive video game of a minimum of 100 hurrying lawns. The Expenses’ hurrying defense is probably the hardest the Steelers have actually dealt with in a minimum of a month, permitting challengers approximately 103 hurrying lawns per video game in their previous 3 contests. However Harris is on a roll with back-to-back video games of 100-plus hurrying lawns. With the temperature level anticipated to be listed below freezing, wind gusts of 50 miles per hour and possible light snow, the Steelers will lean greatly on their ground video game. Sharing the backfield with Jaylen Warren, Harris had simply 255 touches in the routine season, his least in his three-year NFL profession, making him as fresh as possible for the playoffs. — Brooke Pryor

Stat to understand: The Steelers had 9 wins in one-score video games throughout the routine season, which led the NFL and are the most in a single season in franchise history.

Match X element: Expenses left deal with Dion Dawkins With edge rush T.J. Watt out, Alex Highsmith is a lot more vital to the Steelers’ pass rush. If Dawkins– who has had an actually good season and ranked 4th in pass block win rate amongst takes on– can close down Highsmith, that must establish Allen for a quite smooth day. — Walder

Game-plan secret: Pittsburgh needs to run the ball well in between the takes on. Harris and Warren completed the routine season hot, and Buffalo enabled 4.6 lawns per continue within runs this season, 30th in the NFL. Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen

Injuries: Steelers| Expenses

Officiating note: This video game will gain from among the NFL’s a lot of relied on referees. Carl Cheffers has actually been the Super Bowl referee in 2 of the previous 3 years and 3 times in the previous 7. His regular-season team tossed the third-fewest flags in the league (12.1 per video game). — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Steelers were 10-7 ATS in the routine season with unders going 11-6. The Expenses were 7-10 ATS in the routine season with unders going 11-6.

Moody’s choice: Expenses 34, Steelers 20
Walder’s choice: Expenses 30, Steelers 13
FPI forecast: BUF, 76.6% (by approximately 10.4 points)

Match must-reads: How Tomlin motivated the battered Steelers’ not likely playoff push Have the Expenses shed their unstable late-game credibility? The playoffs will choose Who’s to thank for Steelers’ playoff push? Start with guys declared ‘off the sofa’

Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET|Fox| Spread: DAL -7 (50.5 )

What to look for: Championship game in between the Cowboys and Packers have actually been remarkable, from the Ice Bowl (much better referred to as the 1967 NFL champion), to the 2014 divisional round when Dez Bryant didn’t– or did– capture it, to the 2016 divisional round when Aaron Rodgers‘ 35-yard conclusion established the game-winning basket. Because video game, quarterback Dak Prescott was making his very first playoff start. In this video game, quarterback Jordan Love is making his very first playoff start. Dallas coach Mike McCarthy was on the Packers’ sideline for those last 2 video games, and now he gets a possibility to end his previous group’s season and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. — Todd Archer

Strong forecast: In a video game that includes the quarterbacks who ranked very first and 2nd in the NFL in goal passes this season (Prescott with 36, Love with 32), both Packers running back Aaron Jones and Cowboys running back Tony Pollard will top 100 lawns. Jones ended the season with 3 straight video games over 100 lawns. And Pollard is coming off his 2nd successive 1,000-yard season and will deal with a Green Bay defense that enabled a 28th-ranked 128.3 hurrying lawns per video game this season. — Rob Demovsky

Stat to understand: The Packers are 5-0 at AT&T Arena perpetuity, consisting of playoffs (4-0 versus the Cowboys, plus a Super Bowl XLV win versus the Steelers).

Match X element: Love. In theory, this must be Dallas’ video game, and it should not be that close. However given that Week 10, the leading gamers in QBR have actually been Prescott and Love, respectively. If Love can take out an extraordinary video game, Green Bay has a genuine opportunity. — Walder

Game-plan secret: I’m thrilled to see if Dallas can plan some interior pass-rushing bets Micah Parsons He led the NFL in pass rush win rate this season (35.4%), and there will be chances when he kicks within. Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen



Stephen A.: Cowboys under more pressure to reach Super Bowl than 49ers.

Stephen A. Smith and Chris “Mad Canine” Russo disagree on whether the Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers are under more pressure to reach the Super Bowl this season.

Injuries: Packers| Cowboys

Officiating note: The Cowboys have actually been remarkable this season at drawing protection charges from challengers, who have actually been flagged an NFL-high 31 times for protective pass disturbance, protective holding or unlawful contact. It’s a huge reason the Cowboys led the league with 43 very first downs by means of charge. The Packers’ shell protection, nevertheless, was just flagged 16 times for protection fouls, the NFL’s seventh least. — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Packers were 10-7 ATS in the routine season with overs going 10-7. The Cowboys were 10-7 ATS in the routine season with unders going 9-8.

Moody’s choice: Cowboys 34, Packers 21
Walder’s choice: Cowboys 31, Packers 24
FPI forecast: DAL, 73.6% (by approximately 9.1 points)

Match must-reads: How Love is remaining ‘level’ for playoff launching If not now, when for Prescott and a Cowboys Super Bowl? How Love surpassed Rodgers, Favre in Year 1 Cowboys’ McCarthy: Reviewing Packers period ‘will not assist us win’

Sunday, 8 p.m. ET|NBC| Spread: DET -3 (51.5 )

What to look for: Matthew Stafford versus Jared Goff It’s the Lions’ very first home championship game given that the 1993 season, as the 2 previous No. 1 general choice quarterbacks take on for the 2nd time given that being traded for each other in 2021. There is no scarcity of thriller as Lions coach Dan Campbell will attempt to lead Detroit to its very first postseason triumph given that the 1991 season, while Rams coach Sean McVay is seeking to enhance his 7-3 profession record in championship game. — Eric Woodyard

Strong forecast: Stafford will toss for a minimum of 350 lawns. It isn’t a mark he has actually struck yet this season, however the match might be a high-scoring one. Stafford, who bet the Lions for 12 seasons, has a profession average of 277.7 pass lawns per video game at Ford Field, the 4th greatest by any quarterback at a single arena in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. — Sarah Barshop

Stat to understand: The Lions went all out on 4th down 34% of the time this season, the greatest of any group this century. The Rams went all out 17% of the time, which ranked 20th this season. However Los Angeles may think about being more aggressive on 4th down as it has actually missed out on 16 combined basket and additional points this season, the most by any group given that the 2001 Steelers (17 ).

Match X element: Lions edge rush Aidan Hutchinson He completed the routine season red hot with 5.0 sacks, a forced fumble and a 19% pass rush win rate at edge in his last 2 video games. If he keeps that up, that would be big for the Lions’ defense. — Walder

Game-plan secret: Lions running backs David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs might see volume on Sunday night, specifically out of 11 workers. The Rams enabled 4.9 lawns per bring versus such positionings this season. Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen

Injuries: Rams| Lions

Officiating note: The Lions’ difficulty in covering the Rams’ death video game will be boosted by their predisposition to devote protection charges. They were flagged 29 times for protective pass disturbance, protective holding or unlawful contact, the 5th most in the NFL. They were likewise flagged 6 times for roughing the passer, connected for the 4th a lot of. Referee Craig Wrolstad tossed 4 flags for roughing the passer throughout the routine season, connected for 6th least. — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Rams were 10-7 ATS in the routine season with overs going 9-8. The Lions were 12-5 ATS in the routine season, the very best record in the NFL. Their overs went 11-6, likewise connected for the greatest over portion in the NFL.

Moody’s choice: Rams 28, Lions 24
Walder’s choice: Lions 24, Rams 20
FPI forecast: DET, 53.9% (by approximately 1.4 points)

Match must-reads: Stafford constructed his resiliency in Detroit– now he intends to fall the Lions Goff: Chip on shoulder from Rams trade will never ever leave me Morris has drive to be an HC once again Unknown stories of Campbell as a gamer

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET| ESPN/ABC/ESPN+| Spread: PHI -3 (43.5 )

What to look for: This is a Week 3 rematch that Bucs inside linebacker Devin White so properly anticipated after the Bucs’ 25-11 home loss on “Monday Night Football.” However these 2 groups have actually headed in opposite instructions. The Bucs won 5 of their previous 6 video games, while the Eagles have actually lost 5 of their previous 6. The Bucs will likewise see a various looking defense given that senior assistant Matt Patricia took control of in Week 15. Both quarterbacks are handling injuries, as Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield has not just a rib injury however likewise an ankle injury, while Eagles quarterback Jalen Injures suffered a finger injury on his tossing hand in Week 18. — Jenna Laine

Strong forecast: Bucs running back Rachaad White will eclipse 125 versatile lawns. The last time these 2 groups satisfied, the Eagles held Tampa Bay to 41 hurrying lawns. However the run defense has actually fallen off a cliff ever since, yielding 142 lawns per video game typically over their previous 7 video games. A banged-up Mayfield might lean on White in both the ground and brief death video game. — Tim McManus

Stat to understand: Injures has actually battled with ball security versus the blitz this season, tossing 5 goal passes with 8 interceptions. Those 8 turnovers were the most by any quarterback when blitzed this season. This weekend, Injures will deal with a Tampa Bay defense that blitzed at the third-highest rate throughout the routine season.

Match X element: Injures’ finger. He stated on Thursday that he had not tossed a ball given that hurting his finger in Week 18. If that injury hinders his capability to toss the ball on Monday night, then this is a totally various ballgame. — Walder



Is Nick Sirianni’s task on the line if Eagles lose to the Bucs?

Andrew Hawkins and Dan Graziano weigh in on whether Nick Sirianni’s task is at stake if the Eagles lose early in the playoffs.

Game-plan secret: Can Philly get the run video game choosing D’Andre Swift? He ran for 130 lawns versus Tampa Bay back in Week 3, and feeding him in the run video game might assist the Eagles enter a rhythm. Find Out More at ESPN+ — Bowen

Injuries: Eagles| Buccaneers

Officiating note: For all of the general public conversation the Eagles sustained over their offending linemen lining up offsides on ” tush push” plays, the larger story is that their offending line was flagged an NFL-low 8 times for offending holding. The Buccaneers’ protective front drew 22 such flags, connected for 16th-most. — Seifert

Betting nugget: The Eagles were 7-10 ATS in the routine season with overs going 9-8. The Buccaneers were 11-6 ATS in the routine season with unders going 11-6.

Moody’s choice: Buccaneers 28, Eagles 21
Walder’s choice: Eagles 21, Buccaneers 16
FPI forecast: PHI, 57.3% (by approximately 2.6 points)

Match must-reads: Is the Eagles’ pass rush as terrifying as it appears? Buccaneers clinch 3rd straight NFC South title with win

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