49ers kick off Super Wild Card Weekend

San Francisco hosts division foe Seattle on Saturday afternoon in what should be a wet and wild game with storm blowing through Bay Area


The 2022-2023 NFL season was filled with drama. With the recent tragedy that occurred with Bills safety Damar Hamlin, players around the league are playing for more than football.

With the complications of the week 17 game between the Bills and the Bengals being canceled, there has been much controversy regarding the site of the AFC Championship, which will be held at a neutral site (Mercedes Benz stadium in Atlanta) if the top-seeded Kansas City Chiefs play the No. 2 seed Buffalo Bills.

There has been an NFL record 66 different starting quarterbacks this season, headlined by comeback player of the year candidate Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks and Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy of the San Francisco 49ers. Coincidentally, those two signal callers will face off in the playoff opener Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a look at that game and the five other games featured over Super Wild Card Weekend.

Seattle Seahawks (7) at San Francisco 49ers (2)

Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on FOX

Divisional matchups in the playoffs are always a must watch. In these teams’ two meetings this season, San Francisco really ran the Seahawks out of the building on both sides of the ball. This time, things can change. There is supposed to be heavy wind and rain in Santa Clara, and with that weather the advantage goes to a Seattle team that is used to those conditions. On top of that,  the Seahawks have the veteran quarterback Smith, who has dealt with everything imaginable as a nine-year veteran.

On the other sideline there’s the last pick in the 2022 draft, Purdy, who has gone on a spectacular run since the injury of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury in Week 13 against Miami. Since Garoppolo’s injury, Purdy is 5-0 with 1,374 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Plus, we can’t forget the historic Niners defense that is absolutely star studded. Headlined by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Nick Bosa, this team has playmakers at all levels. This game should be tight but expect the Niners to come out on top with their superior run game, defense and home field advantage. Oh, and don’t forget they are the hottest team in football winning 10 straight. 

Prediction: 49ers 17, Seahawks 10

Los Angeles Chargers (5) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (4)

Saturday at 5:15 p.m. on NBC

This AFC matchup probably comes as a surprise to many. The Jaguars were a horrible team last season with a horrible head coach in Urban Meyer, who was fired in the middle of the team’s 4-13 season. But the Jags and sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence are flourishing under former Eagles coach Doug Pederson. 

The addition of wide receiver Christian Kirk really helped their young quarterback, while rookie running back Travis Etienne Jr. out of Clemson has impressed many. Their defense doesn’t have anyone game altering but the most talked about player has been rookie edge/linebacker Travon Walker, who was selected first overall in the 2022 draft. He has had his ups and downs but looks to have a bright future in the NFL. 

This Chargers team has been extremely beat up this year with 11 players lost to season-ending injuries, including new signee and 2021 Pro Bowl corner JC Jackson. This offense has been great behind by do-it-all running back Austin Ekeler, who had 915 rushing yards and 722 receiving yards to go along with 18 combined touchdowns. Quarterback Justin Herbert performed well despite playing hurt for a few games, throwing for 4,739 yards, 25 touchdowns and only throwing 10 picks. In the end, the Chargers are more experienced and have more players that can make the big time plays that you need in the playoffs. 

Prediction: Chargers 30, Jaguars 27

Miami Dolphins (7) vs Buffalo Bills (2)

Sunday at 10 a.m. on CBS

This game just isn’t fair. The Buffalo Bills have been dominant all year behind superstar quarterback Josh Allen, who looks like Superman on the field. Allen has the ability to take the game into his hands at any time. He is a powerful and surprising quick runner for his 6-foot-5, 237-pound frame, and has a cannon of an arm. In addition to his number one target, Stefon Diggs, the Bills’ offense looks unstoppable. Their defense has been stingy as well, ranking sixth in yards allowed and second in points allowed. This team is hot and it’s questionable if any team can put out the fire. 

The Dolphins are in a tough spot. They have been inconsistent, starting out the season 3-0 before dropping three straight. They then went on a five-game winning streak before losing five in a row.  I attribute the combination of the poor play and nagging injuries to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Having inconsistencies at quarterback puts a team in a position where it’s hard to get a rhythm or get hot as a team. They have seen Tagovailoa, veteran Teddy Bridgewater and rookie Skylar Thompson all take snaps under center in a short span of time. They need to find a way to get the ball into the hands of superstar receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle if they want any shot, which will be hard considering Thompson has not shown any flashes as a passer but will be starting with the other two quarterbacks hurt. This game should be an absolute blowout, especially in  the hostile environment of Buffalo.

Prediction: Bills 35, Dolphins 7

New York Giants (6) vs Minnesota Vikings (3)

Sunday at 1:30 p.m. on FOX

The New York Giants finally made the playoffs. The demanding New York fanbase have watched many disappointing seasons these past years, but they are now once again in the mix for the first time since 2016. Led by running back Saquon Barkley, who was NFL’s fourth leading rushing with 1,312 yards this season, the Giants are much improved on offense. Quarterback Daniel Jones continues to make strides and build his case as the franchise quarterback heading forward. But the Giants defense isn’t all that good. One bright spot is rookie edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux,the fifth overall selection from Oregon. He has the skills to put him up there with the Micah Parsons of the league. 

On the other side, the Vikings have a lethal offense. Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook all put up huge years and were the core of this high powered attack. Jefferson has had such a good year he is putting himself in conversations for MVP as a wide receiver, which has never been done before. He has 1,809 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The Vikings need to hope that their offense doesn’t sputter because the defense is not much to talk about. They are second to last in the league in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed. They have lots of veterans on the defense, including cornerback Patrick Peterson,  safety Harrison Smith,  linebacker Jordan Hicks, and edge rusher Za’darius Smith, all of whom have playoff experience. On paper, this defense looks respectable, but they just aren’t playing like it. But it shouldn’t matter. The Vikings offense will overpower the Giants for a comfortable victory.

Prediction: Vikings 28, Giants 21

Baltimore Ravens(6) vs Cincinnati Bengals(3)

Sunday at 5:15 p.m. on NBC

This is another divisional game set for this weekend. If Lamar Jackson was playing this would be a must watch. Unfortunately, another starting quarterback is out and the Ravens will likely look to third string rookie Anthony Brown out of Oregon. The Ravens entire offense revolves around Jackson and with him out they are not putting points on the board. 

The Ravens’ defense is well rounded and doesn’t really have any weak spots. They added linebacker Roquan Smith in a trade with the Bears at midseason and recently locked long term (5 years, $ 100 million). This is puzzling considering they haven’t extended Jackson, the face of the franchise. But besides Smith, the Ravens have a great secondary with Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Williams, Kyle Hamilton, and Marcus Peters. 

The Ravens task is stopping the Joe Burrow-led Bengals. Burrow continues to make his case as an elite quarterback, throwing for 4,475 yards, 35 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this season. He has some great players surrounding him with superstar receiver Jamarr Chase and a strong second receiver in Tee Higgins. He also has the very good running back Joe Mixon as an option in the run game. The defense doesn’t have any stars but they get it done, finishing sixth in points allowed and 16th in yards allowed. The Bengals will smoke the Ravens at home playing against a third-string quarterback.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 10

Dallas Cowboys (5) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)

Monday at 5:15 p.m. on ESPN 

Tom Brady is 7-0 against the Dallas Cowboys. But simply put, the Bucs aren’t a very good football team. They have absolutely no run game and Brady is starting to show signs that he isn’t invincible. That’s not a knock on him considering he threw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns. But that TD number is a huge drop off from the 43 he tossed last year. This shows the offense isn’t scoring as much in years past. The talent is there with the star receivers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but the production is not. It doesn’t help that the Bucs have scored five rushing TDs all season. Fortunately for the Bucs, Tampa’s defense is very good. They arguably have a top linebacking trio in the league with Lavonte David, Devin White, and Shaq Barrett. They are 13th in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. 

The Cowboys are inconsistent as any team in the playoffs. They score a ton of points (fourth overall), but their defense just gives up way too many points. They allowed 29 to a bad Bears team, 31 to the depleted Packers, 40 to the Jaguars, and 34 to the Eagles.  The point is their defense might sabotage the Cowboys in the playoffs despite how well their offesne plays. Dallas needs to rely on quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Ceedee Lamb, and running back Ezekiel Elliot to make a run. Even though Brady is undefeated against the Cowboys, this Bucs team is fraudulent and doesn’t deserve to be here.

Prediction: Cowboys 28, Buccaneers 17