NFL Playoffs 2018: Viewing Information and Wild-Card Bracket Picks

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2018

FILE - In this Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, file photo, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) leaps over Carolina Panthers cornerback Daryl Worley (26) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans.  When the first-place New Orleans Saints face the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night in an NFC South matchup with serious playoff ramifications, the spotlight will be on the guys in the backfield. ( (AP Photo/Bill Feig)
Bill Feig/Associated Press

It's the most wonderful time of the year. No, not the holiday season, but the NFL playoffs, which kick off on Saturday when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tennessee Titans at 4:35 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN. 

But that's just where the fun begins. 

It's shaping up to be a wild NFL postseason. The Los Angeles Rams are in for the first time since 2004, while the Buffalo Bills saw their 17-year playoff drought come to a dramatic end after the Cincinnati Bengals bounced the Baltimore Ravens. 

That's made for some unusual matchups in the Wild Card Round, such as when the Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

We'll take a look at the entire TV schedule for the playoffs up to the Super Bowl, which run through Sunday, January 21, and then break down projected winners for all four wild-card games. 


Wild Card Round

Saturday, January 6

AFC: No. 5 Tennessee Titans at No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs (4:35 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN)

NFC: No. 6 Atlanta Falcons at No. 3 Los Angeles Rams at (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC)

Sunday, January 7 

AFC: No. 6 Buffalo Bills at No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

NFC: No. 5 Carolina Panthers at No. 4 New Orleans Saints (4:40 p.m. ET, Fox)


Divisional Round

Saturday, January 13

NFC: No. 4 New Orleans Saints at No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles (4:35 p.m. ET, NBC)

AFC: No. 4 Kansas City Chiefs at No. 1 New England Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) 

Sunday, January 14 

AFC: No. 3 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (1:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

NFC: No. 3 Los Angeles Rams at No. 2 Minnesota Vikings (4:40 p.m. ET, Fox)


Conference Championships

Sunday, January 21

AFC: 3 p.m. ET, CBS

NFC: 6:30 p.m. ET, Fox


Wild-Card Bracket Picks

No. 4 Chiefs over No. 5 Titans

To say the Kansas City Chiefs have been hot and cold this season would be an understatement.

The Chiefs came out of the gate running at 5-0, then dropped six out of seven before turning things around to finish 4-0. 

Interestingly enough, rookie running back phenom Kareem Hunt's season tracks with his team's. Hunt scored at least once in his first three games, had a drought through the middle of the year and then scored in each of the Chiefs' final four victories. 

Hunt will be the Chiefs' most important player when it comes to taking down the Tennessee Titans, making quarterback Alex Smith's life easier in the process.

Head coach Andy Reid ceded play-calling duties to coordinator Matt Nagy late in the season, and the offense came alive again. Kansas City will keep that momentum going into the divisional round. 


No. 3 Rams over No. 6 Falcons

If you had said prior to the start of the 2017 NFL season that you were not only picking the Los Angeles Rams to make it to the Wild Card Round in 2018 but also picking them over the Atlanta Falcons, one year removed from contending for a Super Bowl, people would have questioned you.

But here we are. The Rams were one of the NFL's most punishing teams in 2017, with a creative offense that was impossible to contain behind the ground attack led by Todd Gurley and the air show that second-year quarterback Jared Goff put on. 

The Falcons, meanwhile, ended the year No. 19 against the run, which isn't going to cut it against the best running back in the league in 2017.

Gurley averaged 87 yards per game this season and found the end zone a whopping 19 times from scrimmage. 


No. 3 Jaguars over No. 6 Bills

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31:  Blake Bortles #5 hands off the ball to Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Titans defeated the Jagu
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

We can't break down how recent trends suggest the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills will match up in the postseason, because neither of them has made it in since 2007 and 1999, respectively.

Nothing is certain in the NFL, but it's unlikely either of these teams will be advancing to the AFC Championship Game as long as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers are in the picture. 

But one team has to win, so which will it be?

The Jags are the better team on both sides of the ball. Not only has their defense been ferocious this season, finishing No. 2 in total defense, but their offense finished No. 1 in the league in rushing thanks to rookie Leonard Fournette. 

Buffalo, meanwhile, has been shaky against the run and is potentially without its top rusher in LeSean McCoy, who was carted off the field in Week 17. 


No. 4 Saints over No. 5 Panthers

It's always fun when divisional rivals face off in the postseason, and it was bound to be the case in 2017 as three teams from the NFC South advanced to the playoffs. 

However, by the end of the day Sunday, there will be at least one fewer NFC South team representing as the closely seeded New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers duke it out. 

New Orleans swept its regular-season meetings with Carolina this season, and it's likely it earn the hat-trick in the Wild Card Round.

All the teams that advanced to the first weekend of playoff football have stellar rushing attacks. New Orleans possibly has the best duo in the league in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Add in quarterback Drew Brees, and even former MVP Cam Newton can't outscore this team. 


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