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NFL Super Wildcard weekend: Intriguing slate of games to open week one of the post-season

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Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, left, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson shake hands following an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The Ravens won 27-22. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Camera IconTampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, left, and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson shake hands following an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The Ravens won 27-22. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken) Credit: Jason Behnken/AP

Football fans are counting down the hours to NFL Super Wildcard weekend, with an intriguing slate of games to open the post-season.

Justin Fris takes a look at what could prove telling in each highly-anticipated match up:

NFC: Seattle Seahawks (7th seed) at San Francisco 49ers (2nd seed), 5.30am Sunday (WST) at Levi’s Stadium, California

Line: 49ers (-9.5 points)

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Over/under: 42

Weather: 14C, light rain

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Keys to victory: Winning the battle at the line of scrimmage is going to be critical, given the wet weather. Don’t let the big point spread fool you — this is an NFC West divisional rivalry, so both teams are well versed on each other.

The 49ers will also look for young quarterback Brock Purdy to settle in early, so expect the play calling to allow him to make some early, safe completions.

AFC: Los Angeles Chargers (5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4), 9.15 am Sunday (WST) at TIAA Bank Field, Florida

Line: Chargers (-2)

Over/under: 47.5

Weather: 6C, clear

Keys to victory: Something will have to give in this match up, given the fact the Chargers have one of the worst run defences in the league — something which the hosts are skilled in — while the Jaguars’ pass defence is equally as disappointing.

AFC: Miami Dolphins (7) at Buffalo Bills (2), 2am Monday (WST) at Highmark Stadium, New York

Line: Bills (-13.5)

Over/under: 43.5

Weather: -2C, sunny

Keys to victory: The Dolphins are potentially bringing popcorn into a gun fight, with rookie Skylar Thompson starting at quarterback for only the third term in his short NFL career due to starter Tua Tagovailoa still being in concussion protocol.

On the back of their impressive second half display during last week’s win over the New England Patriots, you would expect the Bills to come out firing once again in front of their loyal fanbase.

NFC: New York Giants (6) at Minnesota Vikings (3), 5.30 am Monday (WST) at US Bank Stadium, Minnesota

Line: Vikings (-3)

Over/under: 48.5

Weather: 3C, mostly cloudy

Keys to victory: Given the playoff heartache which has haunted them in the past, no Vikings diehard is taking a win over the Giants for granted.

Expect Vikings running back Dalvin Cook to get plenty of carries early, in a bid to open the home side’s passing attack downfield.

AFC: Baltimore Ravens (6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3), 9.15 am Monday (WST) at Paycor Stadium, Ohio

Line: Bengals (-8.5)

Over/under: 40.5

Weather: 1C, partly cloudy

Keys to victory: As is the case with the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens enter this sudden-death game with a quarterback headache, due to starter Lamar Jackson out with a knee injury.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has yet to announce who will start under centre, given the fact back up Tyler Huntley is also battling tendinitis in his shoulder.

Despite reaching last year’s Super Bowl, the Bengals have a history of losing home playoff games over the past two decades, so they will be keen to banish some of those demons.

NFC: Dallas Cowboys (5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4), 9.15 am Tuesday (WST) at Raymond James Stadium, Florida

Line: Cowboys (-2.5)

Over/under: 45.5

Weather: 6C, clear

Keys to victory: Can you remember the last time Buccaneers hall of fame-destined quarterback Tom Brady was an underdog in a home playoff game? Me neither, which is a testament to his longevity and success.

Although their regular season had no shortage of miscues, Brady and company have plenty of post-season experience, which could prove telling against the Cowboys, who are destined to snap their wretched run of defeats in January when it matters.

Should the Buccaneers lose, is this the last time we will ever see Brady grace the field in battle? Only time will tell.

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