Indianapolis News and HeadlinesNational NewsScripps News

Actions

NFL playoffs preview: Schedule, Super Bowl odds, MVP race, and more

Here's a look at where the first round of postseason play starts on the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, Nevada.
NFL playoffs preview: Schedule, Super Bowl odds, MVP race, and more
Posted at 3:13 PM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 15:13:46-05

The 2024 NFL playoff picture is set and we're just one day away from kicking off the first slate of Super Wild Card Weekend games. 

The Baltimore Ravens in the AFC and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC both finished atop their respective conference and will have a courtesy first-round bye. With 12 teams remaining and their seasons on the line this weekend, here's a look at where postseason play starts on the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Saturday Jan. 13

(4) Houston Texans vs. (5) Cleveland Browns 4:25 p.m. ET (NBC)

Play kicks off Saturday in Houston with the Texans being a home underdog against the visiting Cleveland Browns. At their best, the Texans have beat some playoff-contending teams this season behind young star quarterback C.J. Stroud. But at their worst, Houston has also lost to some very bad teams. This will be the Browns' first playoff game in three years so they could be rusty, but the team boasts arguably one of the best defenses in the league. This matchup has potential to come down to a last-minute nail-biter with the Browns being a 2.5-point favorite to win, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

(3) Kansas City Chiefs vs. (6) Miami Dolphins 8 p.m. ET (Peacock) 

The Saturday double-header will round out when the Miami Dolphins travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Dolphins fielded one of the most explosive offenses in the league this year but also went 1-5 against teams with a winning record. Miami has also lost their last 10 games when the temperature was under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is forecast to be below zero on Sunday. The Chiefs, meanwhile, aren't the same team fans watched win last year's Super Bowl. Costly errors, penalties, and wide receiver drops have continued to plague the team all season long. But Kansas City does have experience on their side and will be playing in a 14th consecutive home playoff game. The Chiefs are currently a 4-point favorite to win.

Sunday Jan. 14

(2) Buffalo Bills vs. (7) Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The second day of playoff football kicks off Sunday when the Steelers travel to snowy Buffalo to take on the red-hot Bills. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has a record 17-straight non-losing seasons and is hoping his team of young starters can make a deep push in the playoffs. The Bills have faced turnover issues all season long on offense but that hasn't stopped them — and their staunch defense — from going on a five-game win streak to end the season. The Bills are currently a 10-point favorite to win.

(2) Dallas Cowboys vs. (7) Green Bay Packers 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)

The Green Bay Packers will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys for the second matchup of the day. As the last team in for their conference, the Packers face an uphill battle against a stout Dallas defense. Young quarterback Jordan Love may be no Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers, but a slate of reliable wide receivers and a veteran running back have proved trustworthy this season. Meanwhile, Dallas is looking to snap their 27-year Super Bowl drought. Quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver CeeDee Lamb have been unstoppable this season, but will they finally be able to break the curse? The Cowboys are currently a 7-point favorite to win.

(3) Detroit Lions vs. (6) Los Angeles Rams 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

The Lions started the season hot with an upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs and aren't planning to ease up when they welcome the Los Angeles Rams to Detroit Sunday. It will go down as the Lions first playoff appearance since 2016 and first playoff game in Detroit since 1993. With a dependable cast of young offensive talent that can break open a play at any moment, the Lions can go off at any moment. But will playoff inexperience be the team's Achilles' heel? Meanwhile, the Rams return to the playoff picture for the fourth year in a row, two years since winning Super Bowl LVI in 2022. Rookie receiver Puka Nacua has put on a Pro Bowl performance this year, logging over 1,400 receiving yards and averaging more than 14 yards per catch. However, the Rams rank dead last in special teams DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) and lead the league in missed field goals and extra points. Detroit is currently a three-point favorite to win.

Monday Jan. 15

(4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. (5) Philadelphia Eagles 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN/NBC)

The first round of the NFL playoffs closes out with a Monday night showdown when the Philadelphia Eagles travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Early on in the season, Philadelphia looked like the Super Bowl contenders they were a year prior, winning all but one of their first 12 games. But from there, the team went on a skid, losing five of their next six games to close out the season. But the Eagles still yield one of the most impressive offenses in the league on paper. It's just a matter of whether they can climb their way out of the rut they're in. Historically, Tampa Bay was simply a bad team for much of the 2010s. That's until a man by the name of Tom Brady came out of retirement and led them to a Super Bowl championship in 2020. Since then, the Buccaneers have made the playoffs each of the past three seasons and are looking to rebound after losing to the Cowboys in the first round  of the playoffs last season. But with a wildly inconsistent offense and a defense that's known for giving up explosive plays, a win this year depends largely on what team shows up. The Eagles are currently a three-point favorite to win.

MVP Odds

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is all but certain to win the league's Most Valuable Player award after an explosive season in both the run and the pass game, logging nearly 4,500 total yards and 29 touchdowns. However, some fans and analysts are making arguments for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. Both Prescott and Purdy have put up more touchdowns than Jackson and had similar seasons in terms of total yardage. However, both guys do have elite, star-studded offenses built around them, whereas Jackson is the clear No. 1 in Baltimore. Take him out of the equation and the Ravens may not even be in the playoff picture. The MVP award is voted upon by a panel of 50 sportswriters and the winner will be announced on Feb. 8, one day before the Super Bowl. Baltimore's Jackson is currently a -20,000 favorite to win.


Trending stories at Scrippsnews.com