The second set of wild card games will be played today. If yesterday’s games did not wow you, these will certainly try. The countdown to the Lombardi is just getting started. Let’s see how the next four teams match up against each other.
AFC WILD CARD
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS vs BALTIMORE RAVENS:
The Los Angeles Chargers have had a hell of a season. They are never to be counted out. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is looking for a ring. Passing for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns says a lot. Most of those yards go to Melvin Gordon with 175 carries for 885 yards and 10 TDs and to Keenan Allen with 97 receptions for 1.1196 yards and 6 TDs. It helps to have a few other weapons in Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and the veteran Antonio Gates at the ready for adjustments. On defense, a healthy Joey Bosa is great with the pass rush. Rookie Derwin James is coming along a promising defender as well. This has proven to be the right recipe for a 12-4 season.
In Baltimore, the rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson will lead his troops into battle. He will be the youngest quarterback in a playoff game at the age of 21. He is 6-1 as a starter. He is mobile and makes plays on the move. With targets like John Brown and Willie Snead, Jackson will have no trouble airing the ball out. On the ground, Gus Edwards is the number one guy with 137 carries for 718 yards and 2 TDs on the season. Kenneth Dixon is there to move from sideline to sideline when Edwards struggles. There is no introduction needed for the top rated Ravens defense. Names like Terrell Suggs, Jimmy Smith, C.J. Mosely, Brandon Carr, and Eric Weddle stand out. A young Marlon Humphrey is a name for the contiuing future of the Ravens defense.
Last meeting between these teams was just a couple of weeks ago in week 16. Baltimore won that game convincingly in a 22-10 beating of Los Angeles. Even with the Chargers traveling from the west coast, do not expect them to lose again. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn is not on the top of any coach rankings. He and Philip Rivers will get a game plan together to ensure a win. For coach John Harbaugh, things will be the same only with the added angst of starting a rookie quarterback. Rookie QBs do not fare well in playoff games. Defense wins championships they say. It is going to come down to the last play to decide this game.
Los Angeles Charger
NFC WILD CARD
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES vs CHICAGO BEARS:
Oh boy! The Philadelphia Eagles appear to be in the same situation as last year at this point. Nick Foles is back as the starting quarterback. Although he is questionable with an upper body injury, fans are hoping for the same magic as last year. It will be difficult with a rash of injuries to the roster. The upside is the players that are on the field are making things happen. Down field there is Alshon Jeffrey with 843 receiving yards and six TDs, Nelson Agholor with 736 yards and four TDs, ad Zach Ertz for 156 targets, 1,163 yards, and eight TDs. Running the ball is Josh Adams with 511 rushing yards and three TDs and Wendell Smallwood with 364 rushing yards with three TDs, 230 receiving yards with one TD. No shortage of offense there. Philly’s defense is the big question mark here. The secondary has to be one of the most injured secondaries in the league. Not being able to cover will hurt them gravely.
Chicago is not going to let this one slip away. Young Mitchell Trubisky has improved during the curse of the season. To his credit, he has thrown for 3,223 yards, 24 TDs and rushed for 421 yards and 3 TDs. He has help too. Allen Robinson has a team leading 754 receiving yards and four TDs. Taylor Gabriel is right behind him with 688 yards receiving ad two TDS. The guys running the ball are Jordan Howard with 935 yards and 9 TDs and Tarik Cohen with 444 rushing yards and three TDs and 725 receiving yards and 5 TDs. Khalil Mak is the key on defense since a trade landed him there in September. Adding him made an already formidable defense even better.
Sudefeld will be a go if Nick Foles cannot today. This will diminish the Eagles chances drastically. This will favor the Bears defense which is third in the league with 50 sacks and leads the league with 27 interceptions. There is a lot of pressure on the Eagles now that they have made the post season. The reigning Super Champs will have to put it all on the line to pull this one off. Chicago has not been in this position since 2010. Trubisky does seem to have trouble when throwing the long ball. Hopefully, the Bears will exploit the weak secondary of the Eagles. This should give them the upper hand.