At the start of the NFL playoffs, eight teams look to advance to the Superbowl. The first round, or the Wildcard, features four games, two from each conference. These conferences are called the AFC and NFC. In these conferences there are four divisions, one from the North, West, South, and East. The Wildcard games are played between a division winner and the next two best team that did not win their division. The two best teams that win their division from each conference do not have to participate in the Wildcard round. This is referred to as a first-round-bye, which is highly sought after during the regular season.
This year, the Wildcard teams from the AFC were the Bills and Titans. The two teams that won their divisions in the AFC but did not get a bye were the Jaguars and Chiefs. The Buffalo Bills played against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Jaguars won in a close 10-3 game. The Tennessee Titans faced off against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans won in a comeback fashion, 22-21. The two Wildcard teams from the NFC were the Panthers and Falcons. They faced off against the Rams and the Saints, respectively. The Carolina Panthers played the New Orleans Saints and the Saints won 31-26. The Atlanta Falcons played the Los Angeles Rams, and the Falcons upset the Rams 26-13. In the AFC, the Patriots and Steelers had byes, while in the NFC the Eagles and Vikings had byes.
In the second round, or the divisional round, the AFC featured the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the New England Patriots against the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars upset the Steelers in an exciting and high scoring game, that ended 45-42. The Patriots expectedly took care of business and beat the Titans 35-14. In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints played the Minnesota Vikings, and the Philadelphia Eagles played the Atlanta Falcons. The Eagles beat the Falcons 15-10. The Saints vs Vikings was a spectacular game. The Vikings got off to an early lead, but the Saints came back. The Saints made a field goal to put them up by one point with about 30 seconds left. On the final play of the game, the Vikings threw to Stefon Diggs, who caught it and ran for a walkoff 61 yard touchdown. PJ Mckenna, a Sophomore at Ridgewood High School, explains the play, “It was insane, I was like ‘no way’ when that play happened.”
Soon, the Vikings will play the Eagles in the NFC championship, and the Patriots play the Jaguars in the AFC championship. The winner of these games will go on to play in the Superbowl. The Super Bowl will take place in Minnesota on February fourth.
UPDATE: After an intense game that came down to the final minute, the Patriots defeated the Jaguars 24-20. Later that day, the Vikings scored 7 to the Eagles 38. The super bowl will now be between the Patriots and the Eagles. Millions of Americans and others across the globe will tune into this event, which will hopefully be action-packed.
Graphic: Maraea Garcia