A short while ago, during halftime of the final Sunday night game of the regular season, the league released its Wild Card Playoff schedule, along with the timings. They are as follows.
Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
(5) Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at (4) Carolina Panthers (7-8-1) (4:20/3:20c, ESPN)
The first game of 2015 will pit two defensive-minded teams, when the NFC South “champion” Carolina Panthers will take on the fifth-seeded Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals will enter the game in a slump, while the Panthers, despite having a losing record, have won four straight games.
(5) Pittsburgh Steelers at (4) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) or (6) Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at (3) Pittsburgh Steelers (8:15/7:15c, NBC)
Confused? Well, the reality is that the matchup for this game, as well as the early Sunday game, will not be known until tonight’s Bengals/Steelers game goes final. Either way, the Steelers will be playing. They will visit the Indianapolis Colts if they lose tonight, but will host the Ravens if they win. Either way, they will be facing a team they recently blew out. They defeated the Colts 52-34 in Pittsburgh in Week 8, before defeating Baltimore 43-22 in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger scored six touchdowns in each game, making him the first player in NFL history to complete such a feat.
Sunday, January 4th, 2015
(5) Cincinnati Bengals at (4) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) or (6) Baltimore Ravens (10-6) at (3) Cincinnati Bengals (1:05, 12:05c, CBS)
The Sunday noon game will feature the Cincinnati Bengals, either visiting the Colts, or hosting the Ravens. The former will occur if they lose at Pittsburgh tonight, while the latter will take place if they win tonight. The Bengals will be trying their best to win, since they narrowly beat the Ravens in both of their matchups earlier this season. If they lose tonight in Pittsburgh, they will be facing a rematch against the team they lost to 27-0 in Week 7.
(6) Detroit Lions (11-5) at (3) Dallas Cowboys (12-4) (4:40/3:40c, FOX)
Out of all the wild card matchups, this is the one really worth looking out for. Each team had been underachieving for the past few years, but have finally righted the ship. Each team boasts one of the league’s top receivers, as well as gunslinging quarterback at the helm. Both teams can run the ball, but the Cowboys possess the league’s top rusher in Demarco Murray. The last two times they’ve faced off have been classics, so this game could be legendary.