Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (Saturday at 4:35 pm EST, NBC)
If you knew this was going to be the matchup back in the midpoint of the season when the Chiefs were still undefeated and the Colts were starting to struggle, you’d call it an easy win for Kansas City. But that’s the magic of the NFL: things change. It’s not that the Chiefs aren’t good anymore (they are) or the Colts don’t still have their struggles (they do), it’s that this match has all of the makings of a barn burner – a match in which the Luck-led Colts are favored.
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles (Saturday at 8:10 pm EST, NBC)
The same exact thing can be said about this game. Midseason, no one would have dared to pick the Eagles to top the Saints. And yet here they find themselves in the first round of the playoffs with a home game and a huge opportunity. The Saints are undefeated at home this season; they won a mere three games on the road. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the Eagles have looked especially sharp in their big wins against Chicago and Dallas in the past two weeks. While it’s never wise to count Drew Brees out, this one has the potential to send the Saints home earlier than originally expected.
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday at 1:05 pm EST, CBS)
For the first time in three years the Bengals will not face the Texans in the first round of the playoffs. And for the first time in three years, they’ll be hoping for a win in the first round of the playoffs. That the Chargers are even in the playoffs is a testament to the unpredictable world of the NFL (they can thank the Bengals for doing their part in defeating the Ravens during pregame warmups). But how they got in doesn’t matter. What does matter is the fact that they may have scored the best matchup of Wildcard Weekend, and they look ready to take advantage.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (Sunday at 4:40 pm EST, FOX)
It might be a new year, but not when it comes to this game. The obvious answer would be that it’s still 2013 – the year when this same game was played on different turf – but it actually feels more like 2010 to me. That was the year the Packers limped into the playoffs and made a highly unlikely run all the way to winning Super Bowl 45. Now, there are some differences, the greatest of which is that the Packers defense is significantly (significantly) worse, but it has the look and feel of another potential Super Bowl bid. Of course, the 49ers are no doubt thinking that they are going to party like it’s 2013 all over again – the year when they
slaughtered beat the Packers and ultimately advanced to the Super Bowl. Which explains why I’ve had traumatic visions of Colin Kaepernick dancing in my head all week.