The NFL Playoffs are here, but the Chicago Bears don’t play until Sunday. It’s a good news-bad news situation, but I’m sure the Bears will make it worth your while tomorrow if you behave and show just a hint of patience. Three games will have been played before Bears-Eagles kicks off as the final game of Wild-Card Weekend. I feel as each of these games alone could serve as a decent enough primer for fans who are itching for postseason football. But that they all come before the Bears play allows for ample time to get dialed in for the big one.
Playoff football, but no Bears. Le sigh.
AFC Game #1
Buffalo Bills (10-6, 2nd AFC East) at Houston Texans (10-6, 1st AFC North) – 3:35 p.m. CT, ESPN/ABC (Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters), Westwood One Radio (Tom McCarthy, Rod Woodson, Hub Arkush)
Site: NRG Stadium, Houston
Referee and crew: Tony Corrente (referee), Bruce Stritesky (umpire), Jerod Phillips (down judge), Walt Coleman IV (line judge), Mike Weatherford (field judge), Jimmy Buchanan (side judge), Terrence Miles (back judge)
Odds: Texans (-2.5), Over/Under 43 via the Westgate Superbook.
Bills Sean McDermott (25-23, 0-1 playoffs) vs. Texans Bill O’Brien (52-44, 1-3 playoffs)
Bills: Josh Allen: 3,089 yards, 20 passing TD, 9 INT, 58.8 completion pct., 85.3 rating
Texans: Deshaun Watson: 3,852 yards, 26 TD,12 INT, 67.3 completion pct., 98.0 rating
Quick Hit: The exans leading off the playoff slate is a tradition unlike any other. Can Houston’s big-play offense show up on the playoff stage? Will Buffalo run wild with Josh Allen (and his nine rushing touchdowns) and Devin Singletary (who was long believed to be a Bears draft target)? Answers follow questions after kickoff.
AFC Game #2
Tennessee Titans (9-7, 2nd AFC South) at New England Patriots (12-4, 1st AFC East) – 7:15 p.m. CT, CBS (Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson), Westwood One Radio (Mike Tirico, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin)
Site: Gilette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Referee and crew: John Hussey (referee), Roy Ellison (umpire), Tom Stephan (down judge), Rusty Baynes (line judge), Tom Hill (field judge), Scott Edwards (side judge), Rich Martinez (back judge)
Odds: Patriots (-5.5), Over/Under 45 via the Westgate Superbook.
Titans Mike Vrabel (18-14), Patriots Bill Belichick (273-127 overall, 237-83 with Patriots, 31-11 playoffs)
Titans: Ryan Tannehill: 2,598 yards,229 TD, 5 INT, 69.6 completion pct., 119.6 rating (10 games as a starter)
Patriots: Tom Brady: 4,057 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 60.9 completion pct., 88.0 rating
Quick Hit: The Patriots are the gold standard of modern-era football, but this feels like a last hurrah. Meanwhile, the Titans are a prime example of what happens when you provide real competition for a first-round quarterback who flames out in your system. Bears fans should have their eyes on this one.