NFL wild-card matchups are set, and hosts will be tough to beat

Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers
Packers receiver Davante Adams, left, and Aaron Rodgers celebrate a touchdown during a win in Detroit. Green Bay will not get to host a wild-card playoff game.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

The four NFL teams hosting playoff games on wild-card weekend are especially tough in their own venues, going 26-6 during the regular season that concluded Sunday.

Seattle and Houston are both 7-1 at home; Green Bay and Pittsburgh are 6-2.

The playoffs open Saturday with the Texans playing host to the Raiders, followed by the Lions at Seahawks.

On Sunday, it’s the Dolphins at the Steelers, then the Giants at the Packers.


The only one of those four games that isn’t a replay of a regular-season matchup is Lions at Seahawks.

The Raiders beat the Texans, 27-20, in Mexico City on Nov. 21. Miami won a home game against Pittsburgh, 30-15, on Oct. 16. Green Bay beat the Giants at home, 23-16, on Oct. 9.

The first round in the NFC features three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, and a fourth who has yet to win a postseason game. That’s Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who have a combined four Lombardi Trophies, and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, still looking for his first playoff victory.

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, who has two rings, leads an AFC quarterback field that includes understudies Matt McGloin of Oakland, Tom Savage of Houston, and Matt Moore of Miami — and, after a hard-fought Week 17, it’s not even clear how many of those fill-ins will be available.


In their first meeting, the Raiders sleepwalked through three quarters against the Texans before coming alive with two Derek Carr touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. 

However, Carr suffered a broken leg in a Week 16 game against Indianapolis, sending Oakland’s promising season into a tailspin. The Raiders lost at Denver on Sunday, blowing their chance for the No. 2 seed, a week off and a home game.

Worse, backup quarterback Matt McGloin suffered an injury to his left shoulder and was replaced by untested rookie Connor Cook, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State. Cook completed 14 of 21 for 150 yards with a touchdown and an interception. 

Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t commit to a starting quarterback for the wild-card game, but indicated McGloin will get the nod if he can play.

“Obviously, he has more experience in our system, a little bit longer,” the coach said. “But I thought Connor did a nice job with the opportunities he had.”

Houston has had quarterback issues of its own. Tom Savage, who replaced the struggling Brock Osweiler two weeks ago, left in the second quarter against Tennessee on Sunday to be evaluated for a concussion. Osweiler stepped in for him and wound up throwing for 253 yards and a touchdown, in addition to running for a score on fourth-and-goal.

Texans Coach Bill O’Brien said he plans to wait for a diagnosis on Savage and discuss the situation with his assistants over the next couple of days before making any quarterback decisions for the playoff game.

The weekend forecast for Pittsburgh calls for temperatures in the 20s. That’s a far cry from the stifling humidity in Miami Gardens, Fla., when these teams played in Week 6, and Miami came away with the 15-point win. 


In that game, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill got an emotional boost when he saw two Steelers defenders getting sick in the first half. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger only played as if he were nauseous, completing 19 of 34 with two interceptions. He was hobbled by a bum left knee and missed a series because of it. He suffered a tweak of his right knee on Pittsburgh’s final play.

The Steelers couldn’t stop running back Jay Ajayi that afternoon. He ran for 204 yards and two touchdowns in 25 carries.

“It’s going to be a good test for us,” linebacker Lawrence Timmons told reporters Sunday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We just have to play our ball, play our defense and come out with a win. They ran for 200 yards. Enough said there. We can’t allow that at all.”

This will mark the fourth time in Steelers history they will meet Miami in the postseason, and the first time since the 1984 AFC championship game.

Green Bay’s offense has come on strong in recent weeks, but it was the defense that led the Packers in their Week 5 win over the Giants. Manning was limited to 199 yards passing and was sacked three times.

The Seahawks and Lions last met during the 2015 regular season when Seattle prevailed at home, 13-10. In that Monday night game, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor punched the ball out of the hands of Calvin Johnson at the one-yard line, as the since-retired receiver was heading in for the go-ahead touchdown.

Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter: @LATimesfarmer


Get our daily Sports Report newsletter