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NFL Playoff Bracket 2020: Wild-Card Picture and Divisional Round Scenarios

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 30, 2019

El quarterback Drew Brees, de los Saints de Nueva Orleáns, lanza un pase en el duelo con los Panthers de Carolina, el domingo 29 de diciembre de 2019, en Charlotte, Carolina del Norte. (AP Foto/Brian Blanco)
Brian Blanco/Associated Press

The eight NFL teams starting their Super Bowl LIV hunt in the wild-card round have the odds stacked against them to reach Miami. 

In the last six seasons, the Super Bowl matchup has been dominated by No. 1 and No. 2 seeds from the AFC and NFC.

However, that trend may come to an end with championship-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees beginning the postseason in the wild-card round. 

Three of the eight franchises participating in wild-card weekend did not appear in the playoffs last season. 

The NFC underwent more of a postseason overhaul than the AFC, as half of the six-team field did not qualify a year ago, including the top two seeds, the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers.

                    

NFL Wild-Card Picture

AFC 

Saturday, January 4

No. 5 Buffalo at No. 4 Houston (4:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN) 

No. 6 Tennessee at No. 3 New England (8:15 p.m. ET, CBS) 

       

NFC

Sunday, January 5

No. 6 Minnesota at No. 3 New Orleans (1:05 p.m. ET, Fox) 

No. 5 Seattle at No. 4 Philadelphia (4:40 p.m. ET, NBC) 

           

Divisional Round Scenarios

AFC

The most intriguing AFC divisional-round scenario features a rematch of the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. 

The Patriots slipped into the No. 3 seed by way of a Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins, which put Andy Reid's team into a first-round bye on a head-to-head tiebreaker. 

In their December 8 meeting at Gillette Stadium, the Chiefs held the Patriots to 278 total yards and seven first-half points. 

In fact, the AFC East champion did not score more than seven points in a quarter in the 23-17 defeat. 

Even with home-field advantage, beating the Patriots twice in a season will be a difficult task for Patrick Mahomes and Co. 

New England has not lost twice to an opponent in one campaign since 2015-16, when it fell to the Denver Broncos in Week 12 and the AFC Championship Game.

Bill Belichick's team is expected to win Saturday night against the Ryan Tannehill-led Tennessee Titans. 

The former Miami quarterback is 4-7 in his career versus the Patriots with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

If that occurs, the winner of the Saturday afternoon tilt between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans will head to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens. 

John Harbaugh's team dismantled the Texans 41-7 in Week 11 and defeated the fifth-seeded Bills by seven points in Week 14.

Baltimore has won four of its last five home games by double digits and knocked off four playoff qualifiers since Week 9.

           

NFC 

If the New Orleans Saints handle their matchup with the Minnesota Vikings, they will head to Lambeau Field for a divisional-round meeting with the Packers.

That potential matchup would pit Brees and Aaron Rodgers against each other in a battle of two of the most successful quarterbacks of this era. 

In each of their last four playoff appearances, the Saints have at least one victory, and they have won three straight postseason openers at the Superdome. 

Brees is 6-2 in home postseason contests with four 300-yard performances and seven multi-score outings. 

He is going up against a Minnesota passing defense that allowed 3,737 yards and 23 touchdowns. Since their Week 12 bye, the Vikings have allowed over 300 total yards to four of five opponents. 

The Saints own the fourth-best rushing defense and have allowed a single 300-yard passing game since their Week 9 bye.

If the Vikings upset the NFC South winner, they would head to Levi's Stadium to face the 49ers, but the more likely scenario for Kyle Shanahan's team is a meeting with the victor of the final wild-card contest. 

In that scenario, the 49ers could face the Seattle Seahawks for the second time in three weeks and third time this season.

The NFC West rivals have delivered a pair of epic battles, with Sunday's regular-season finale determined by inches on Seattle's final offensive play. 

The Philadelphia Eagles could knock off the Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field, as they enter the six-team field on a four-game winning streak. 

Doug Pederson's side fell to Seattle at home in Week 12, but both offenses will look different from that meeting. 

The Eagles are down to running backs and wide receivers that began the season on the practice squad, while Seattle had to call back Marshawn Lynch to aid its backfield depth. 

Under Pederson, the NFC East champion has a 4-1 playoff record and was one score away from its second straight NFC Championship Game appearance last season. 

Either team would face a daunting task on the road against the NFC"s top seed. The 49ers are 3-2 versus playoff qualifiers with wins over three of the five over NFC participants.

                    

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference