2023 NFL Playoffs: What you need to know

The Divisional Round of the playoffs will begin on Jan. 21.


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The Wild Card Round may be over, but the playoff action has just begun.

The National Football League (NFL) Playoffs are upon us once again. After a season filled with unexpected player moves, on- and off-the-field drama, incredible highs, and terrible lows, here’s what you need to know to be prepared for this year’s postseason.

Around the League

Undoubtedly, the most prominent event NFL fans are discussing is the recovery of Damar Hamlin. The 24-year-old safety from the Buffalo Bills collapsed unexpectedly in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Jan. 2. Hamlin had suffered cardiac arrest after being hit in the chest during a tackle, and the game was suspended indefinitely as he was rushed to the hospital.

Every NFL team (along with people throughout the world of sports) shared their support for Hamlin and his family while he was in recovery. Fortunately, after a week at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, he was discharged and returned to Buffalo. He spent two days at the Buffalo General Medical Center and has since returned home to continue his rehabilitation.

Wild Card results

Wild Card Weekend has concluded, and the teams for the Divisional Round have been set. 

On Jan. 14, the San Francisco 49ers played the Seattle Seahawks and the Jacksonville Jaguars played the Los Angeles Chargers. The Niners, considered strong Super Bowl favorites by some, led a decisive 41-23 blow-out against the Seahawks. Quarterback Brock Purdy has been on a tear for the Niners lately, throwing three touchdown passes and running for a fourth.

The Jaguars beat the Chargers with the third-largest comeback in NFL playoff history, being down 27-0 and winning 31-30. Trevor Lawrence, quarterback for the Jags, went from throwing four interceptions in the first half to four straight touchdowns. Jacksonville hasn’t escaped the Wild Card Round since the 2017 season.

On Jan. 15, the Buffalo Bills played the Miami Dolphins, the New York Giants played the Minnesota Vikings, and the Cincinnati Bengals played the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills took home the win for Hamlin, going 34-31 against the Dolphins. The underdog Dolphins brought the game within three on a fourth-and-one but gave up the possession after a delay of game penalty.

The Giants pulled out a 31-24 win in a competitive game against the Vikings. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has made great progress this year after many began to question his position on the roster, and this game was no exception. The Giants’ defense put up a good fight as well. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2016 season, and hasn’t made it past the Wild Card Round since their Super Bowl run in the 2011 season.

The Bengals sent the Ravens home in a 24-17 win. The Bengals are hoping for another shot at the title after losing to the Los Angeles Rams in last year’s Super Bowl.

The last Wild Card game was played on Jan. 16, where the Dallas Cowboys won against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 31-14. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott led the charge, throwing four touchdowns with no interceptions. Tom Brady, veteran quarterback of the Bucs, is rumored to retire after this season, so it is possible that his career will come to an end after this tough loss.

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs were on a bye week, meaning the next round of games will be the Chiefs vs the Jaguars, the Bengals vs the Bills, the Eagles vs the Giants, and the Cowboys vs the 49ers.

Super Bowl contenders

The Super Bowl odds have not shifted much after this past week of games. The Chiefs are at the top of the rankings after finishing their season with a respectable 14-3 record, and the Bills are close behind with a record of 13-3 before their win against the Dolphins.

Close behind are the Niners, whose odds rose following their strong showing against the Seahawks, then the Eagles, and the Bengals. Each of these teams led their respective divisions during the season. The Cowboys are next, still being strong contenders nonetheless.

The only teams that can really be considered outliers are the Giants and the Jaguars. Both teams have made a statement this season with solid 9-7-1 and 9-8 records respectively. A strong playoff push from either of these teams would be wildly unexpected, but they shouldn’t be counted out just yet.

The Wild Card Round may be over, but the playoff action has just begun. The Divisional Round of the playoffs will begin on Jan. 21, with the Jaguars/Chiefs game available on NBC and Peacock and the Giants/Eagles game available on Fox.