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The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

The Virtual Hub for the Media of the The Benjamin School's Upper School

The Pharcyte

NFL Wild Card Weekend: Teams Set the Stage for Playoff Intensity

 

The road to Super Bowl LVIII starts on Saturday, Feb. 13th. The first stage consists of the Wild Card games, six intriguing games over three days.

Super Wild Card Weekend kicks off at 4:30 p.m., with the Cleveland Browns lining up against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. 

Despite playing with four different quarterbacks throughout the season, the Browns’ carousel seems to be over. The current face of the Browns is QB Joe Flacco, who has led the Browns to an unbelievable 4 -1 final stretch of the season. With Flacco and others sitting out during their loss to the Bengals in Week 18, the Browns will be rested and ready to go. 

There is no more surprising team in the AFC playoffs than the Houston Texans, who went from fighting for the first overall pick a year ago to becoming AFC South Champions. Clinching the division during their first year with Demeco Ryans and rookie QB C.J. Stroud is a dream come true for Texans fans. The young talent on this team will hopefully give success to the city for years to come. After a week 18 thriller against the Colts, it will be interesting to see how ready the Texans are for the well-rested Browns. Although they may be a first-round exit this year, it is undeniable that they will be in the playoffs for years to come.

The Pharcyte’s Prediction: Browns 24, Texans 21

It is the most anticipated game in the AFC. The Dolphins will travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at 8:15 on Saturday. 

After a tough loss this past Sunday night to the Bills, the Dolphins are still ranked at the top of the NFL in yards and points per game. At full strength, Miami is loaded offensively with multiple pro bowlers. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert were both out this past Sunday night, and the Miami edge rushers have been ravaged by injuries, proving the Dolphins are shaken up. Throughout the season, they have only had one win over a team with a winning record, and it does not get more challenging than winter in Kansas City.

The Chiefs have struggled this season but still managed to win the AFC West for the eighth consecutive season. The Kansas City defense, led by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and defensive tackle Chris Jones, has been a surprise this season and could cause problems for Miami. A disappointment for the team is that the offense has not been as explosive as in years past. Patrick Mahomes has not been his usual self this season due to the lack of receivers, but with rookie Rashee Rice poised for a postseason breakout, it will be exciting to see if this once-feared offense can turn their shaky season around.

The Pharcyte’s Prediction: Chiefs 28, Dolphins 17

On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Buffalo Bills host the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh is an interesting team. They have endured their share of adversity throughout the regular season, including turning to three different quarterbacks. The Steelers have never had a losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin and had a couple of critical wins from other teams to enter the postseason. They look to pull off a crazy upset in Buffalo.

This season has been up and down for the Bills. They entered Week 18, facing a potential scenario where they could miss the playoffs entirely, despite winning four straight games following their bye week. Instead, the Bills are AFC East champions for the fourth consecutive year after beating Miami. Any team with Josh Allen under center and a top-five scoring defense will be challenging, and this looks like a breeze for the Bills against the Steelers. 

The Pharcyte’s Prediction: Bills 28, Steelers 6

Moving onto the NFC, the wild card slate gives NFL fans a chance to see star players return to where they started, a rivalry that lasted decades, and an opportunity for a quarterback to provide a fantastic comeback story.

First, on Sunday at 4:30 p.m., the Green Bay Packers travel to AT&T Stadium d to play the Dallas Cowboys. Theirs is  a rivalry that has only intensified since former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy joined the Cowboys.

The Cowboys run a fast-paced, balanced offense led by Dak Prescott, who has had a fantastic season this year with 36 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. For context, last year Dak threw 15 interceptions and only 23 touchdowns. His sidekick, wide receiver Ceedee Lamb, had an electric season with over 1500 receiving yards. The Cowboys won the NFC East this season and are looking to have some playoff success finally. With a lot on the line for himself and the Cowboys on Sunday, McCarthy will have his team ready for the challenge.

The Packers may not have expected to be here at the beginning of the season, but here they are. Starting quarterback Jordan Love had big shoes to fill after the departure of future hall-of-famer Aaron Rodgers, but he has done an admirable job in his first season as the starter. With a young and quick receiving core, the Packer’s offense has been fun to watch. Unfortunately, the team is too young, in our opinion, to get past the tantalizing Cowboys defense led by All-Pro edge Micah Parsons.

The Pharcyte’s Prediction:Cowboys 34, Packers 17

The second game on Sunday for the NFC is between the Detroit Lions and the LA Rams at 8 p.m. The big storyline in this game is the return to Detroit for now Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

A Lions legend, Stafford was traded to the Rams a couple of years ago and won a Superbowl in his first season with his new team. In return, the Lions got multiple draft picks and now starting quarterback Jared Goff, who has led his team to a 12-5 record and a division title. The Lions feature a run-heavy offense with a two-headed attack of Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery. Opened up by the run game, the Lions have one of the best play-action pass schemes in the league, featuring star receiver Amon Ra St. Brown. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is one of the most sought-after assistants in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what he has schemed up for Sunday.

For the Rams, everyone expected a down year after cap troubles in the offseason, but general manager Les Snead found two diamonds in the rough with wide receiver Puka Nacua (1486 yards) and running back Kyren Williams (1144 yards) in the fifth round of last year’s draft. Head Coach Sean Mcvay has led his team with an amazing West Coach style scheme throughout the season. The only worry with the Rams is the defensive side of the ball, which has been shaky at times this year.

The Pharcyte’s Prediction: Lions 24, Rams 17

The last game of Wild Card Weekend features the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers.

Not long ago, the Eagles were considered the best team in the NFL. They were on fire, with a 10-1 record to start the season. Since then, they have fallen off and finished with a 1-5 record in their last six games. After an ugly loss to the New York Giants in Week 18, the Eagles limp into the postseason. If it was not bad enough, QB Jalen Hurts and WR A.J. Brown both left that game with injuries. This is not going to be an easy game for the Eagles, and these injuries for their key players could heavily affect them. 

For the third consecutive year, the Bucs won the NFC South, barely making it into the playoffs after a season with many ups and downs. Not only has QB Baker Mayfield surprised people this year, but he has been one of the Bucs’ best playmakers. Players like receiver Mike Evans, safety Antione Winfield Jr., and defensive end Yaya Diaby will have to step up in this tough matchup. These two Oklahoma QBs are going to have to battle this out in the final game of Wild Card Weekend. 

The Pharcyte’s Prediction: Bucs 28, Eagles 21

With The Pharcyte predicting multiple close games over this weekend, NFL fans should gear up for an action-packed Saturday, Sunday, and Monday where the road to the Super Bowl begins.

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About the Contributors
Matt Marasco, Editor-in-Chief
Matthew Marasco is an Editor-in-Chief of The Pharcyde. Starting on The Pharcyde as a sophomore, he has attended Benjamin since Kindergarten. He likes to fish and golf in his free time. As a senior at Benjamin, Matthew enjoys writing opinion pieces and about sports. He is an avid member of the veteran's appreciation club and enjoys doing community service at the Quantum House.
Reid Waxman, Sports Editor
Reid Waxman is a sophomore at Benjamin and is a staff writer for the Pharcyte. He has been attending this school since WOW and has experience from the Neercyde from middle school. Reid loves how The Pharcyde allows him to branch out on creative writing he looks to do.

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