NFL Playoff Bracket 2023: Updated Picture, Schedule After Saturday's Wild Card
The 2023 edition of the NFL's Super Wild Card Weekend got off to a rousing start with an NFC West showdown between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.
San Francisco, arguably the league's hottest team coming into the postseason, actually got off to a slow start. The Seahawks matched the 49ers blow for blow in the first half and actually carried a one-point lead into the break.
However, a second-half surge led to a big 49ers lead and helped usher San Francisco into the divisional round. The Jacksonville Jaguars will join them after completing an unbelievable comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday night.
Below, you'll find a quick recap of Saturday's action and a look ahead at the playoff field and the remaining postseason schedule.
San Francisco 49ers 41, Seattle Seahawks 23
The 49ers continue to roll, despite relying on their third starting quarterback of the year. Brock Purdy, the final player selected in the 2022 draft, has become anything but irrelevant in San Francisco.
Purdy helped power the 49ers, who entered the second half with a one-point deficit but finished with an 18-point victory. He got help from playmakers Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle, but Purdy is the reason why San Francisco has to feel good about its offense moving into the divisional round.
After losing both Trey Lance (ankle) and Jimmy Garoppolo (foot), the 49ers turned to the rookie out of Iowa State. They haven't lost since. Purdy finished Saturday's game 18-of-30 for 332 yards, three passing touchdowns, a rushing score and a place in NFL history:
The first rookie QB with 4 total TDs in a playoff game: <a href="https://twitter.com/brockpurdy13?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrockPurdy13</a><br><br>(h/t <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLResearch?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLResearch</a>) <a href="https://t.co/owg3z4hy17">pic.twitter.com/owg3z4hy17</a>
Of course, the 49ers didn't win solely with offense. Nick Bosa and San Francisco's first-ranked defense did its part to limit Seattle in the second half. In fact, Bosa was responsible for the biggest turning point in the game.
Late in the third quarter, San Francisco held a six-point lead, but Seattle was in the red zone and threatening to score. Bosa stripped quarterback Geno Smith, recovered the fumble and helped spark San Francisco's second touchdown drive of the half.
The 49ers took a two-score lead early in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
McCaffrey went over 100 rushing yards in the win, while Samuel (133 receiving yards, 32 rushing yards, 1 TD) showed that he's fully recovered from the ankle and knee injuries that sidelined him late in the regular season.
Samuel's 74-yard catch and run touchdown in the fourth quarter gave San Francisco a three-touchdown lead and essentially put the stamp on this one.
The 49ers will be at home again next weekend for the divisional round. The Seahawks now turn to the offseason looking to build on this season's surprising playoff campaign. Their first order of business, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, will be finding a way to retain Smith at quarterback.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31, Los Angeles Chargers 30
The Chargers didn't have star wideout Mike Williams against the Jaguars, as he suffered a back injury in Week 18. He was injured in a game that had no bearing on Los Angeles' playoff seeding, and head coach Brandon Staley took plenty of heat for playing his starters in a meaningless game.
"There were a lot of players that were playing in that game that were in harm's way," Staley said, per Andrew Crane of the New York Post. "That's just the nature of football, and it's very difficult to decide who plays and who doesn't—and who's more valuable than the rest."
That the Chargers were red-hot to open Saturday's game. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, it wouldn't last—and they'll likely spend the offseason lamenting Williams' absence.
Los Angeles raced out to a 27-7 halftime lead thanks to some efficient play by Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and the offense—and some tremendous play by Asante Samuel Jr. and the defense.
Samuel snagged three first-half interceptions, while Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence tossed four picks in the opening two quarters.
However, Jacksonville flipped the script with a huge second-half surge and some very uneven play from Los Angeles.
While the Jaguars weren't sharp to start, they began to settle in late in the second quarter. Lawrence led a touchdown drive just before the break, and Jacksonville opened the second half with a defensive stop and another scoring drive.
A second third-quarter touchdown strike by Lawrence allowed Jacksonville to pull within 10 points. A fourth-quarter touchdown and two-point conversion brought the Jags within two. They held the Chargers on the ensuing drive, converted a 4th-and-1 and moved into range for Riley Patterson's game-winning field goal.
It marked the third-biggest comeback in postseason history.
Lawrence finished with 288 passing yards and four touchdowns to go with his four picks. The Chargers were held to only three points in the second half. Credit Doug Pederson for keeping his squad focused, and credit Lawrence for not folding after his rocky start.
Jacksonville will likely be on the road in the divisional round, but Staley and the Chargers are headed home until the preseason.
Updated Playoff Picture
With four games left to play in the wild-card round, plenty has yet to be decided. What we know for sure is that the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs will host playoff games next weekend.
The Eagles and Chiefs claimed the NFC and AFC No. 1 seeds, respectively, and are spending this weekend on bye. That's particularly important for the Eagles, who got quarterback Jalen Hurts (shoulder) back in Week 18 but not at 100 percent.
"We didn't feel like there was more risk [of further injury], but I know he was hurting, and he was hurting bad," Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said, per ESPN's Tim McManus.
Hopefully, the Eagles will have a healthier Hurts under center in the divisional round.
Philadelphia will face the lowest-seeded NFC team next weekend, and that won't be the second-seeded 49ers. San Francisco will either host the Minnesota Vikings or the winner of Monday night's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys matchup.
If the New York Giants managed to knock off the Vikings, they'll face the 49ers.
Over in the AFC, the Chiefs appear likely to host the Jaguars next weekend. Jacksonville wasn't a wild-card team, but Kansas City avoiding the Jaguars will require an upset by either the Miami Dolphins or Baltimore Ravens.
The Dolphins and Ravens will be without starting quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) and Lamar Jackson (knee), respectively. Anything can happen of course, especially in a divisional matchup, but Miami and Baltimore will each have a tough time advancing.
The Buffalo Bills will host Miami in Sunday's early matchup, while the Cincinnati Bengals will host Baltimore in the nightcap.
Remaining Playoff Schedule
Sunday, Jan. 15
7) Miami Dolphins at (2) Buffalo Bills: 1 p.m. ET, CBS
(6) New York Giants at (3) Minnesota Vikings: 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox
(6) Baltimore Ravens at (3) Cincinnati Bengals: 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
Monday, Jan. 16
(5) Dallas Cowboys at (4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC
Saturday, Jan. 21
Sunday, Jan. 22
Conference Championship Round
Sunday, Jan. 29
NFC Championship: 3:05 p.m. ET on Fox
AFC Championship: 6:40 p.m. ET on CBS
Super Bowl LVII
Sunday, Feb. 12
AFC vs. NFC: 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox