Brace yourself: We rank the best wild-card games to watch this weekend

Not everyone is going to be able to gorge on six playoff games over three days on NFL wild-card weekend. What a shame.

For those who might have to skip a game or two, we’re here to guide your decisions. If you are being guilted into finally getting all those chores done this weekend, you don’t want to miss an instant classic.

Here are the six wild-card games, ranked by the watchability of each:

If you believe in the betting market, this game will be a low-scoring blowout. What fun! The Bills are 10-point favorites, and the total for the game is just 36.5. The total is very low because of the weather forecast. It’s expected to be cold, perhaps snowy and with a lot of wind. Who doesn’t want to watch Mason Rudolph throw the ball in 50 mph gusts?

We can all envision a lot of short punts as both teams struggle to throw the ball, and the much more talented Bills grinding out a win that you’ll be challenged to remember one highlight from. We’ll hold out hope for decent weather and a competitive game, even though that seems unlikely.

We’re sorry, Houston fans, but let’s be real, there’s a reason why the Texans have made the playoffs seven times and all seven times they’ve gotten the early Saturday slot on wild-card weekend.

This Texans team is a little different. C.J. Stroud is becoming must-watch TV. We’re not even done with his rookie season and he’s a star already. Stroud’s presence, and the unbelievable Joe Flacco story for the Browns, pushes this game’s watchability up.

So this isn’t No. 6 on the list. But it’s a candidate to pass on if you have big plans Saturday afternoon.

It’s a classic, historic matchup. It just might not be competitive. The Cowboys are incredible at home, and the Packers barely made the playoffs. It was a great accomplishment for the Packers to make the postseason at all as they transitioned from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love, but that doesn’t mean they’ll hang around long.

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys face the Packers in their playoff opener. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys face the Packers in their playoff opener. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

There is plenty of intrigue if the Cowboys lose. Dallas fans will lose their minds. They’ll want head coach Mike McCarthy fired immediately and QB Dak Prescott run out of town, too. But most likely it’ll just be a boring Cowboys win. If they lose, you’ll absolutely hear all about it afterward.

This game might not be pretty, but it’s got some intrigue because of the Eagles and their incredible collapse late in the season.

The Eagles were 10-1 at one point and then lost five of their last six. They lost to bad teams. They got blown out. They got blown out by a bad team when they were embarrassed by the New York Giants in the regular-season finale. What would a first-round exit do for the future of the franchise? We can be sure that Philly won’t be happy. Or quiet about it.

The Buccaneers are a fairly fun team with Baker Mayfield‘s redemption story and Mike Evans‘ playmaking ability. But if you’re tuning in, it’s for the possibility of watching Philly burn.

In a dome, this game is probably No. 1. But with Kansas City anticipating temperatures of below zero degrees during the game, it takes a hit. It’s not like we’ll see Tua Tagovailoa and Patrick Mahomes each putting up 400 yards when they can’t feel their fingers.

Still, it’s a fun matchup. The Dolphins have a great offense. Tyreek Hill‘s return to Arrowhead Stadium is pretty cool. The Chiefs’ offense might be frustrating and inconsistent, but it’s still Mahomes. This should be a good, competitive game. Hopefully the weather doesn’t turn it into an unwatchable mess.

But if you want to watch this one, you’ll have to subscribe to Peacock.

This is the highlight of the weekend. We have Jared Goff going against the team that traded him, and Matthew Stafford going against the team that traded him. How about that? Detroit’s crowd should be cranked up to 11 for the team’s first playoff game ever at Ford Field. Dan Campbell is always entertaining. Rams receiver Puka Nacua is coming off a regular season in which he set rookie records for receptions and yards. And the Lions’ Amon-Ra St. Brown and the Rams’ Cooper Kupp might argue he’s the third-best receiver in the game.

There’s plenty of intrigue and there should be a lot of yards and points, too. If you can only watch one game on wild-card weekend, we all pity you, but this is the one you should make appointment viewing.

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