Two teams will join the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys as winners from the NFL’s Wild Card Weekend on Sunday.
In Sunday’s opener, the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Chargers face off, with the victor making a trip to Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots in the divisional round.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles start their Super Bowl title defense at Soldier Field against the third-seeded Chicago Bears.
If the Bears come out on top Sunday, they will head to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face the Los Angeles Rams, while a Philadelphia win would send the Eagles to the Superdome to face the New Orleans Saints for the second time this season.
Sunday Wild-Card Schedule
All Times ET.
AFC: No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers at No. 4 Baltimore (1:05 p.m., CBS)
NFC: No. 6 Philadelphia at No. 3 Chicago (4:40 p.m., NBC)
In addition to the broadcast networks, the wild-card games can be viewed on FuboTV.
Baltimore 21, Los Angeles Chargers 13
Quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Philip Rivers come into Sunday’s wild-card game in the spotlight, but the defenses will steal the show at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore enters with the second-best total defense in the NFL, while the Chargers rank eighth in that category.
The Ravens, who held the Chargers to 10 points in their Week 16 meeting at the home of the AFC West side, sit fourth in rushing defense and fifth in passing defense.
In nine of their 16 games, the Ravens limited opponents to a maximum of 20 points, with four of those performances coming at home.
Linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Eric Weddle, a former Charger, will wreak havoc on both dimensions of the Los Angeles offense to make life complicated for Rivers and Co.
By getting into the backfield early on, Mosley and the Baltimore front seven will be able to stop any advances made by running back Melvin Gordon.
In 3rd-and-long scenarios, Weddle and his teammates in the secondary should stop the Chargers receivers before they reach the line to gain.
The Chargers boast an impressive defense as well, as they conceded under 20 points on seven occasions.
The strength of the Los Angeles defense is its secondary, led by rookie Derwin James, who was one of the steals of the 2018 NFL draft at the No. 17 pick.
James and Desmond King both racked up three interceptions, while seven other defenders picked off an opposing quarterback.
While the Chargers have a secondary that matches up against any group of wide receivers, they should be more concerned about silencing the ground attack led by Jackson.
Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane is doubtful to play Sunday, per Jonas Shaffer of the Baltimore Sun, which leaves a hole on the interior.
By exploiting the gap in the Chargers defensive line, Jackson and running back Gus Edwards lead a few scoring drives to open up an advantage that will be too much for the Chargers to make up.
Chicago 28, Philadelphia 16
Everyone wants to talk about the defense of the Chicago Bears, but Matt Nagy’s offense will star Sunday at Soldier Field.
Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky will have his breakout game on the national stage by linking up with running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel.
Cohen, who is second on the team in receiving, is the key for the Bears on Sunday, as he will stretch out the Eagles defense with his speed.
By occupying a linebacker or safety Malcolm Jenkins, Cohen allows Howard to gain a few more yards per carry and helps Trubisky earn extra time in the pocket.
Trubisky, who had four 300-yard showings in the regular season, reaches that milestone for the first time since Week 10.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears take control from the start, with their pressure on Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles forcing at least one turnover.
The Bears created the most turnovers in the NFL with 36, which was five more than the second-placed Cleveland Browns.
Chicago’s defense causes a ton of problems because it has seven players who intercepted two passes or more and five who forced at least two fumbles.
In addition to causing turnovers, the Bears make the Eagles offense one-dimensional by stopping the progress of their running backs.
Since Jay Ajayi was ruled out of the season in October, the Eagles struggled to find a consistent workhorse out of the backfield.
Josh Adams led Philadelphia with 511 rushing yards, but he won’t be able to make any inroads, with Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks getting in his face before he reaches the line of scrimmage.
Foles has proved in past playoff games that he’s capable of beating teams on his own, but he won’t have any chance to develop a rhythm in the pocket, with all of the pressure the Bears being thrown in his direction.