NFL Playoff Schedule 2013: Breaking Down Best Potential Opening-Weekend Matchups

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Wide receiver Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch in the end zone to defeat the Green Bay Packers on a controversial call by the officials at CenturyLink Field on September 24, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

We know a few things as we creep closer to the NFL playoffs. We know the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers are in.

We know the Texans, Broncos, Falcons and 49ers control their destiny if they want a bye, the Redskins and Cowboys control their destiny in the NFC East and Indianapolis Colts need just a win to snag a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

And we know that no matter how the matchups play out, the first round of games should promise to be incredibly competitive. With that in mind, I've decided to compile the most intriguing potential Wild Card round matchups. From potential rematches to a clash of rookie quarterbacks, these are the games I want to see kick off the playoffs.

And be sure to stick around afterwards for the full schedule of playoff games.


Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers

What could be better than a rematch between the two teams that served as the catalyst for the end of the replacement referees earlier this season?

Let's say the Packers and San Francisco 49ers both win out, leaving the 49ers a half-game above the Packers in the standings. That would mean that Golden Tate's non-touchdown that was called a touchdown against the Packers just cost Green Bay a bye week.

Ouch. If ever a team needed extra motivation to win a game, the Packers would have it against Seattle.

But this would also be a fun matchup between two of the hottest teams in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers and his teammates are clicking, while Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle defense look poised to secure a Wild Card berth. This game would be fun.


Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens

This remains the easiest matchup to predict, assuming the Ravens can hold on and win the AFC North. And it would be a very interesting game between a Ravens team that is reeling and a Colts team behind Andrew Luck that can compete against any team it faces.

I would expect a shootout. Well, if Baltimore's offense ever wakes up, that is. The Ravens wouldn't be able to slow down Luck, and frankly, the Colts aren't stopping Ray Rice and Joe Flacco if the former gets the ball as much as he should and the latter is on his game.

This could be a classic, last-team-with-the-ball-wins shootout.


Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins

The Rookie Quarterback Bowl! Russell Wilson versus Robert Griffin III! The quarterback who just seems to win against the quarterback who always seems to take our breath away. What an intriguing clash this would be.

The Redskins control their own destiny, so this game is realistic—well, if Washington can beat the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, that is—and would pit the many talents of RG3 against a stout Seahawks defense.

But be honest—you would watch to see which rookie could lead his team to the next round. So would I.


New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers

A lot has to happen for this matchup to take place. The 49ers would either have to lose their last two games and fall into a Wild Card spot—not happening, I know—or the Giants would have to get into the playoffs, but as a Wild Card selection.

These days, that seems like the only shot the Giants have. If both Washington and Dallas win next week, the Giants can't win the NFC East. 

And who wouldn't want to see a rematch from last year's NFC Championship game? Remember, the Giants beat the Niners 29-3 in Week 6. No team in contention wants New York to reach the playoffs, and if the Niners drop out of the bye and find Eli Manning and company on the schedule, there will be a lot of nervous fans in San Francisco.

Here's your playoff schedule:


Round League Dates
Wild Card AFC January 5-6
Wild Card NFC January 5-6
Divisional AFC January 12-13
Divisional NFC January 12-13
Conference Championship AFC January 20
Conference Championship NFC January 20
Super Bowl Both February 3



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