NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend Was Very Mediocre

There were 6 games. Unless you like blowouts, only one was a compelling watch.

Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Nick Sirianni is the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles — for now.
Getty Images

While there are probably more refined ways to break down the six football games that took place during the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend, the most important statistic to examine, as it usually is, is probably this: 206 to 102. That’s the consolidated scores of the winners who will be moving on to play again in a pair of doubleheaders this weekend against the losers who are already looking ahead to next season. As the 206-to-102 scoring ratio makes very fairly obvious, Super Wild Card Weekend was far from super. If you like competitive football, it was mediocre at best.

Despite that, the weekend was a hit with fans, at least in terms of viewership, as Peacock’s exclusive webcast of Chiefs-Dolphins on Saturday night was the most-streamed event in U.S. history, averaging 23 million viewers. Those viewers watched a game that was never really all that close and featured far more shots of Taylor Swift watching her boyfriend play football than Miami touchdowns. (The Dolphins only managed one in their 26-7 loss.)

Along with four of the other losers of Super Wild Card Weekend, the Dolphins were unable to keep their loss within a single score. Large deficits were a common theme over the weekend, as the Browns (31), Dolphins (19), Cowboys (16), Steelers (14) and Eagles (23) all lost by double digits. Only the Rams, who fell to the Lions on the road in a fairly competitive matchup, kept their game within a single score.

The Lions had their hands full taking care of LA, but the Texans, Chiefs, Packers, Bills and Buccaneers appeared to have no problems dealing with their (perhaps overrated) opponents. While the blowouts were great to see for Houston, Kansas City, Green Bay, Buffalo and Tampa Bay, the playoff beatdowns were far less compelling for viewers — although the audience numbers probably won’t reflect that.

Barry Sanders Talks Thanksgiving Games, the Lions’ Chances and “Bye Bye Barry”
“For Detroit fans,” Sanders says, “this is the season we’ve been waiting for”

There’s no chance the NFL will ever considering scaling back “Super” Wild Card Weekend after expanding the playoff field to 14 teams in 2020 by adding a third wild card qualifier from both the AFC and NFC, but there’s also no evidence that the league can make the first round of the playoffs a compelling product. But shame on us because the NFL is really under no obligation to do so — the ratings for the league’s games, even terrible ones, are off the charts.

The ratings bonanza will undoubtedly continue this weekend when NFL’s eight remaining teams take the field. All four home teams are expected to win, with San Francisco favored by 10 points over the Packers, Baltimore favored by nine over the Texans, the Lions favored by six over the Buccaneers and Buffalo favored by three against Kansas City. Hopefully it will be worth watching.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.