Although New York is without a representative in the NFL playoffs for the second year in a row, area football fans will likely tune in this weekend to see which teams will prevail in the first step of the journey to the Super Bowl.
Here’s a look at each of the four wild card weekend games.
Chiefs at Colts
4:35 p.m. Sat. on NBC/4
The Colts earned a convincing 23-7 win in Kansas City two weeks ago, and now the rematch will be in Indianapolis. Jamaal Charles gives the Chiefs a chance at redemption, but his team has gone 2-5 since its bye and seems to have returned to earth. Look for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck to play smart and steer clear of Kansas City’s defensive playmakers to earn the first playoff victory of his career.
Saints at Eagles
8:10 p.m. Sat. on NBC/4
The Eagles’ top-ranked rushing attack takes on New Orleans’ second-ranked passing offense. The NFL is a passing league now — as fans are told constantly — but the Saints are just 3-5 when playing on the road this season. Philadelphia went 7-1 down the stretch and won all four of its home games during that span. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has been a big part of that success thanks to his largely mistake-free play. Having the league’s top rusher, LeSean McCoy, helps too, which is why the Eagles are poised to play again next weekend against the Panthers.
Chargers at Bengals
1:05 p.m. Sun. on CBS/2
There exists no bigger pretender in the playoff field than San Diego. Yes, the Chargers won four in a row to close out the regular season, but they needed overtime in the finale to beat the Chiefs’ reserves — which wasn’t without controversy — just to get this far. The Bengals won the first meeting between these two, 17-10, on Dec. 1 on the road, and should have a bigger edge in Cincinnati. Andy Dalton is capable of lighting up the Chargers secondary and turning this into a rout for the Bengals’ first postseason win since 1990.
49ers at Packers
4:40 p.m. Sun. on FOX/5
Ignore Green Bay’s 8-7-1 regular season record; it went 6-2 when Aaron Rodgers played in the majority of a game, and he’s back in the lineup. One of those losses was a 34-28 defeat in San Francisco, but this one will be in frigid Wisconsin — temperatures could dip below zero for the game. Look for the Packers to earn some revenge for last year’s playoff loss on their frozen turf and earn a hard-fought victory against the defensive-minded 49ers.