First look at the NFL Wild Card Round

We take a look at what the first round of the postseason awaits

Week 18 of the NFL, with everything and its dramatic close, ended up defining the first crosses of the postseason: the Wild Card Round.

Here, we provide the first look at the first six games of the playoffs:

AMERICAN CONFERENCE

Kansas City lost first place in the AFC seed in Week 17, and is looking to appear in its third consecutive Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes is not the one of previous years, that is to say “Most Valuable Player” version, but he closed much better. Now, with an improved defense, they seem to be in better shape for the end goal, but it won’t be easy.

Pittsburgh gave Ben Roethlisberger at least one extra game. But, the Steelers have come to this stage almost miraculously. Much has been done to come to this Wild Card Game with a team so injured, with a quarterback so tired and on the brink of retirement, and with one of the most difficult schedules.

Facing Kansas City is a very tough test for a team that reaches the playoffs with the reserve tank. While KC is a favorite, a postseason game to mark the retirement of ‘Big Ben’ seems like a worthy frame to fire him.

The No. 4 of the seed, the surprising Bengals, arrive with an impressive offense led by Joe Burrow and the virtual winner of the Offensive Rookie of the Year award: Ja’Marr Chase. Besides them, Tee Higgins, Taylor Boyd and Joe Mixon are a formidable combination.

Of the defense that little was spoken, it was the best of all the North Division. The Bengals – let’s remember – won their division over Pittsburgh, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns. They were all supposed to be better of Zac Taylor’s pupils.

The Vegas Raiders entered the playoffs with a great season finale. Ironies of fate: They’ve made it to the postseason without Jon Gruden. Much merit has had this team to be able to do it even with the storm caused by ‘Chucky’ in the middle of the season.

Derek Carr, who is still expected to be stellar in big games, will have to show why since Gruden left, Gruden has become his team. Rich Bisaccia makes history by leading this team to the postseason as interim head coach.

Hands down Bengals favorites

Two old acquaintances will meet for the third time this season.

Buffalo won with authority in the last meeting and is marked as a favorite. Buffalo is said to have no running attack, the defense is not as strong as it was last year, but either way the Bills have managed to finish with the best point differential, 194 in favor, more than any team. in the nfl

Of New England, little can be said, other than the good season of its quarterback Mac Jones and its aggressive defense. The Pats’ dream of going further in the postseason ends this coming weekend. I wouldn’t bet against Buffalo.

NATIONAL CONFERENCE

The NFL champions did not disappoint by getting their playoff berth. Of course, his defense, which last year was his strength, has been diminished by injuries.

Tom Brady will have to bear in large measure the responsibility of getting the team to play the Super Bowl.

Little has been said about Philadelphia’s defense, but it finished as a top 10. Jalen Hurts, who has performed very well as a starting quarterback, will need to be at his best to lead his offense.

The lack of experience in these matches is relative, since playing with Alabama and Oklahoma in very complicated atmospheres when he was a college player makes up for his youth.

The Eagles also had the best rushing offense, which finished with 2,715 total yards and 25 touchdowns that way, the best records in the league.

Dallas finished as the No. 3 seed in the NL. Many Cowboys fans have their imaginations run wild and dream of seeing their team play in the Super Bowl on February 13.

I know my comment won’t make me very popular with the Texas flock, but honestly the ‘Boys’ schedule was very benign. The average number of points scored per game was nearly 30. On five occasions they scored more than 40 points, including two wins with more than 50 units over division rivals.

Those victories, saved by Philadelphia, have been against opponents of the losing brand. Instead, they suffered against better-rated rivals. Among them, Raiders, Kansas City, Arizona. Of course, they achieved some very lucrative victories against the New England and the Los Angeles Chargers.

San Francisco, on the other hand, even won again as a visitor to the Rams in the last game of the regular season, and with it they achieved their place in the postseason.

San Francisco has a very good team: good running attack, a great tight end on George Kittle and the most versatile player in the league with Deebo Samuel.

His defense is good and will put Dak Prescott and company to the test

Three teams qualified from that West Division of the National, and the Rams and Cardinals – members of that sector – will meet again for the third time this year.

Los Angeles and Arizona split wins, and nothing from those games counts for the next game.

Matthew Stafford has missed a lot of passes in recent weeks. It seems that he “picked” the last games of the season to show his paler version.

Still, the Rams have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, so they can’t be ruled out.

Arizona has had its ups and downs, losing four of its last five games.

In this losing streak he could only beat the Cowboys – precisely because of that, the doubts that Dallas leaves behind – but they also have a very explosive offense.

Follow all the playoff activity on ESPN