Wildcard weekend heralds road to Super Bowl

Playoffs in the NFL
From Mr. Irrelevant to the hope of the 49ers

The playoffs in the National Football League start at the weekend – and a “Mr. Irrelevant” is the focus right at the start on Saturday.

Playoff start without unknown: When the knockout round in the US football league NFL starts this Saturday, only teams that already know each other from the main round will meet there. In the fight for entry into the Super Bowl, which will be held in Glendale (Arizona) on the night of February 12th and 13th, only the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs are allowed to watch at the weekend. As the top teams of the regular season, they have a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The most important questions and answers at a glance:

Who qualified for the playoffs?

In addition to the Eagles and Chiefs already mentioned, the Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Baltimore Ravens, the Miami Dolphins, the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks qualified. For five of those playoff teams, success in the Super Bowl would be a title first. Because the Chargers, Jaguars, Vikings, last year’s finalist Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, who have been in the final five times, have never lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy. On the other hand, with the 49ers and the Cowboys, there are two clubs that have been successful five times so far, but both last in the 1990s.

How are the playoffs going?

The 32 clubs of the NFL are divided into two seasons (so-called conferences) – the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC). Seven clubs from each season qualified for the playoffs during the regular season. From this, the teams from both conferences in the knockout system determine one Super Bowl participant each. Matches are seeded based on regular season results, with the top team from each season having a bye in the first round of the playoffs. These are the Eagles for the NFC and the Chiefs for the AFC.

Who are the favorites to get into the Super Bowl?

The top seeded teams from Philadelphia and Kansas City played the best main round. The walk-through they achieved for the weekend also enables them to save energy and to rest and get fit again for battered or injured players. Therefore, they are definitely among the favorites. Additionally, both the Bengals and Bills have made their mark with strong regular seasons. The hottest contenders, at least for a Super Bowl participation, are the 49ers, who start the playoffs with a series of ten wins in a row. The defending champion Los Angeles Rams did not qualify for the playoffs.

What can football fans look forward to in the first round of the playoffs?

One of the typical Cinderella stories is taking place in San Francisco right now: after the first two 49ers quarterbacks got injured, conduct now 23-year-old Brock Purdy the team of Californians on the field. In the draft, the annual selection of the best college players, Purdy was selected at 262nd and last place; That’s why he’s called “Mister Irrelevant” in football jargon: one to fill up the squad and to spar for the real stars. But in recent weeks, the playmaker has gone from being an unknown nobody in the last corner of the squad to becoming the protagonist of a rising star tale loved by Americans and the US media. Substituted early without preparation following an injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, he led the 49ers to a 33-17 win over the Miami Dolphins in early December. The week after, he made his starting lineup debut against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for quarterback legend Tom Brady. Again there was a win, as in the following four games until the end of the NFL main round.

Do German players still have a chance of the NFL final?

In principle, Amon-Ra St. Brown was the last German to fail at the end of the main round. The German-American won with the Detroit Lions at the Green Bay Packers, but a defeat by the Seattle Seahawks would have been necessary to advance – this didn’t happen. However, with Devery Hamilton, who was born in Stuttgart, there is another player, at least in the extended team of the New York Giants. Theoretically, he could still be called up to the matchday squad in the playoffs.

What else is the NFL doing?

Damar Hamlin. The Buffalo Bills defenseman suffered cardiac arrest after colliding with an opponent in the game against the Bengals on Jan. 2. Hamlin was in critical condition after being resuscitated and was only transferred from the Cincinnati clinic to Buffalo on Monday. Last Wednesday, the 24-year-old was finally allowed to return home. In the first game after the injury, the Bills seemed particularly motivated to win for their injured teammate.

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