It had been said for the longest time that the divisional-round portion of the annual NFL playoffs was the most fantastic weekend of the year for the very popular professional football league.
Honestly, I never understood that. I could see that line of thinking throughout the 1970s when you could enjoy watching eight teams face off for the right to advance to the following week’s conference title games. These were presumably the eight best squads in the tournament. Heck, until 1978, when the NFL added two more teams which necessitated a wild card game in each conference, they were the ONLY eight teams in the postseason.
However, starting in 1990, when the NFL expanded its postseason field from 10 teams to 12 (six in each conference, of course), NFL supporters had the opportunity to kick off the postseason with just as many games on Wild Card Weekend (four) as they did on Divisional Round Weekend (or whatever that weekend is called).
To me, that made the wild card round just as enjoyable and exhilarating as the divisional round. An NFL playoff round is the same whether it’s the first or the last: Win or go home.
That’s compelling. That’s true reality TV.
There’s just something about seeing a team survive a postseason round—any postseason round—and live to fight another week. And don’t forget hope, at least that’s what’s so fun about being a fan of an NFL squad that advances even once in the postseason.
Whether or not you ever agreed that the wild card round was just as compelling as the divisional round, you have to agree that the new Wild Card Weekend, complete with six games spanning three days, has now become the NFL’s greatest weekend of the season.
We’re talking three games on Saturday, followed by two games on Sunday, followed by, that’s right, a matchup between Tom Brady and the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
That’s damn-good stuff and the kind of thing that makes a person appreciate this time of year more than I ever did before.
I want to see just how many hours of action I can take in over these six games. Will I hit all 360 minutes? That might be a bit hard to do, but I know I can watch a little of every matchup.
I want to see the emotion—both on the field and in the stands. I want to see the controversies and the dramatic moments.
There’s just nothing like it. You see, this is why other sports leagues—those “best of” types—love to go nuts every time a series goes the distance and reaches its climactic game.
The NFL playoffs have that every single time.
Win or go home.
We get to watch that play out six times this weekend.
Thank you, NFL.