The teams most likely to suffer upsets during Wild-Card Weekend

Upset Watch: Teams on Upset Alert for Wild-Card Weekend

After 18 weeks of grueling NFL action, we’ve made it to Wild-Card Weekend and the first round of the postseason. We often hear the term “must-win” during the regular season, but once a team makes it this deep into January, every game is truly a must-win scenario. Like any other week, there’s always a chance that the underdog could step up and surprise the world. That means there are a few teams on upset watch this weekend.

Rams at Lions

It’s the game that could end up being the most thrilling because it could become a shootout. Lions head coach Dan Campbell proved everyone outside of Detroit wrong last year when he coached the team to a nine-win campaign. Campbell and his guys came back this season and won 12 games for the first time in decades, along with a division title and are now hosting their first playoff game at Ford Field.

Even with all the sudden fanfare swirling around Detroit, the Rams coming to town should be cause for concern in Motown. LA has been on fire since their Week 10 bye, winning seven of their last eight games, and snagging a playoff berth. After losing three in a row to Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Green Bay heading into the bye, Sean McVay’s team looked like they were headed for another five-win finish.

But something clicked for one of the youngest teams in the league, and now they find themselves in Detroit with a good shot at pulling off the upset. It’s crazy to think of the Lions as the team who could be upset, but after the season they’ve had, a loss in the first round could be considered nothing less. This isn’t a clear-cut, line ‘em up and knock ‘em down sure thing like some of the others are expected to be. The trio of Matthew Stafford, Puka Nacua, and Cooper Kupp should not be taken lightly by any means. Oh, and don’t forget about Aaron Donald on that defensive line with his eight sacks in 16 games.

Steelers at Bills

Of course, you’re reading this and thinking, ‘this guy is crazy.’ Sure, the Bills ran the table to close out the 2023 regular season, winning their last five and overcoming a three-game deficit within the AFC East. Now, Buffalo enters the postseason as the No. 2 seed with a matchup that looks like a cakewalk, on paper. Unfortunately, for that table-bashing fan base, it isn’t quite that easy.

On the surface, this feels like a game the Bills should easily skate through winning by double digits. Pittsburgh doesn’t exactly have what you’d call a prolific offense. The fact they were able to win 10 games this year with three different quarterbacks really is a testament to Mike Tomlin’s coaching. Tomlin’s defense is usually on point, although they’ll be without T.J. Watt for this game in Buffalo.

However, let’s not act like we didn’t witness the Bills drop some games they should’ve won against supposedly “inferior” teams this season. Amid a four-win campaign, the New England Patriots beat the Bills in Week 7, 29-25. You can go back to Week 1 as well when Buffalo dropped a game to the Jets after Aaron Rodgers went down on the first drive. There’s also a loss to Denver at home on Buffalo’s resume. Those were all much earlier in the season, but the fact is, they happened. Buffalo better score early and often because if Pittsburgh can keep the score low, we could be looking at the biggest upset of the weekend.

Packers at Cowboys

There’s a Cowboy fan literally throwing their hands up in the air in disgust right now. While Dallas tore through most of their competition in 2023, where they saw the most pushback was against teams with winning records. And that embarrassing loss to Arizona early on, but that’s exactly why there should be some worry floating around Big D. For the simple fact that they have those games every now and then. Now, they don’t usually happen at AT&T Stadium (the Cardinals loss was in Arizona), but there’s no way they should’ve lost to the Cardinals minus Kyler Murray.

This is why Dallas, or the fan base, shouldn’t be taking Jordan Love and the Packers lightly. Things started slow and continued through the first half of the season. Green Bay was 3-6 and looked like a team suffering through growing pains that were going to last another eight weeks. But Love and crew turned up the heat from there, winning six of their final eight games to finish 9-8 securing the last NFC wild-card spot.

In Love’s first year as Green Bay’s full-time starter, he threw 32 touchdowns and more than 4,100 yards. Love passed for more TDs in his first season as the starter in Green Bay than Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers did in theirs. He also finished second in the league in TD passes behind only Dak Prescott. So, this game certainly could become a bit of a shootout.

As talented as Dallas is, they need to be the team with a chip on its shoulder Sunday. Forget about having five players named NFLPA All-Pro, which led the NFL. For Dallas, it’s an NFC Championship Game or bust, at the least. All the accolades and individual accomplishments will mean very little if they suffer another early playoff exit.

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