Stroud, Texans kick off Super Wild Card Weekend on TSN
The National Football League playoffs are set to kick off on Saturday afternoon and continue through Monday night as teams begin their quest to reach Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
Homecomings, rookies, and overpowering offences will be heavily featured over the six-game slate on Super Wild Card Weekend.
Coverage begins Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT with the Browns vs. Texans on TSN 1/3, TSN.ca, and the TSN App, and rolls through Monday night with the Eagles visiting the Buccaneers at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TSN 3/5, TSN.ca, and the TSN App.
The opening game of Super Wild Card Weekend features the oldest quarterback in the playoffs facing off against the youngest, when Joe Flacco and the Browns travel to Houston to take on C.J. Stroud and the Texans.
Stroud, the No. 2 overall pick, and first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans led the Texans (10-7) to a surprising AFC South division title with a Week 18 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The 22-year-old finished eighth in passing yards in his rookie season despite playing just 15 games, throwing for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns, and five interceptions. He quickly developed a strong rapport with deep-threat receiver Nico Collins, who set career highs with 1,297 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.
Flacco joined the Browns (11-6) late in the season following injuries to Deshaun Watson and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The 38-year-old jump-started the Cleveland offence, leading the team to a 4-1 record down the stretch. The veteran averaged 323.2 passing yards per game and threw 13 touchdowns in just five starts, including 368 yards and three touchdowns against the Texans in a 36-22 win on Christmas Eve.
Hill spent the first six seasons of his career with the Chiefs until being traded to Miami prior to the start of the 2022 season. The two-time All-Pro was otherworldly in 2023, posting 1,799 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games.
The Dolphins are reeling heading into Saturday’s matchup, having lost linebackers Andrew Van Ginkel, Jerome Baker, and Bradley Chubb, and cornerback Xavien Howard to injury. Miami has also dropped their past two games, including a Week 18 loss to the Buffalo Bills that cost the team a home playoff game and the AFC East title.
Mahomes and the Chiefs' offence has struggled this season with receivers Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson, and rookie Rashee Rice not being able to fill the void Hill left behind. Mahomes finished with a career-high 14 interceptions and just 27 passing touchdowns, the second-lowest mark of his career.
Tight end Travis Kelce finished with fewer than 1,000 yards for the first time since 2015 as he battled through various injuries.
The Chiefs beat the Dolphins 21-14 earlier this season.
The Cowboys and head coach Mike McCarthy will host the Packers, who he coached for more than a decade.
Dallas clinched the NFC East title and at least one home playoff game with a big win over the Washington Commanders in Week 18. The Cowboys have been a different team at home this season, posting an 8-0 record while scoring 37.4 points per game with a 21.5 average margin of victory in Jerry World.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has a 22-3 touchdown to interception ratio at home and was in the MVP conversation for most of the season. Receiver CeeDee Lamb exploded into the elite tier of receivers in 2023, posting career highs across the board with 135 catches for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Packers QB Jordan Love led the team to the playoffs in his first season as a starter, finishing seventh in passing yards (4,159) and second in touchdowns (32), trailing only Prescott, who finished with a league-high 36.
A franchise record holder in every passing category, Matthew Stafford is set for his Lions homecoming as a member of the Rams.
Stafford was traded for Jared Goff and draft compensation in 2021, and the deal has seemingly worked out for both teams thus far. Stafford quarterbacked the Rams to a Super Bowl title in 2021, bolstering his campaign for a Hall of Fame jacket, while Goff has led the Lions to their first division title since 1993.
The Rams (10-7) enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, led by Stafford and wide receiver Puka Nacua. The BYU product had a year for the ages, setting new rookie records for receptions (105) and yards (1,486) in a season. The fifth-round pick also hauled in six touchdowns and is neck and neck with Stroud for Offensive Rookie of the Year honours.
The Lions (12-5) boast an explosive rookie of their own in first-year running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The 12th overall pick compiled 1,261 total yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Lions are looking for their first playoff win since 1991.
The Bills season was rejuvenated after firing offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey midway through the season.
With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the team replaced Dorsey with Joe Brady following a Week 10 loss to the Denver Broncos. Under Brady, the Bills (11-6) went 6-1 down the stretch to claim their fourth-straight division title and will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen led the NFL with 44 total touchdowns, including a career-high 15 rushing touchdowns. He also became the first QB in NFL history to record four-straight seasons of 40 or more touchdowns.
Allen will lead a Bills offence that may be down its top deep threat, as receiver Gabe Davis is questionable for the game with a sprained PCL.
The Steelers (10-7) will be without their defensive engine as T.J. Watt has been ruled out with a knee injury that he sustained in their Week 18 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Under quarterback Mason Rudolph, Pittsburgh went 3-0 and averaged 27 points per game, 10 points more than under Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett.
“We’re simply staying with the hot hand and not disrupting the apple cart,” head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “We’ve been in some tough circumstances. He’s delivered, we’ve delivered.”
Once looking like the favourite to come out of the NFC, the Eagles (11-6) are limping into a road playoff game against the Buccaneers having lost five of their past six games.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts sustained a finger injury to his throwing hand in Week 18 but is expected to play.
“We’ll see as the week progresses, but I know he’s going to be sore,” head coach Nick Sirianni said. “There’s no doubt about that. I know that finger is going to get stiff, and he’s going to have to go through hard work to make sure that he’s ready to go. I have no doubt that he’s going to do everything he can do to do that, and that he’ll be able to play through his bumps and bruises because I’ve seen him do it.”
The health of the Eagles’ receiving corps is also in question, as A.J. Brown (knee) and Devonta Smith (ankle) are dealing with injuries of their own.
The Buccaneers (9-8) clinched the NFC South for the third straight time with a win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 18. Quarterback Baker Mayfield had the best season of his career, throwing for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first year in Tampa Bay.
The teams faced off earlier this season, with the Eagles winning 25-11 back in Week 3.