Sky Live: Road to Super Bowl begins with Wild Card Weekend
Bills @ Jaguars live on Sky Sports Action from 5.30pm on Sunday, followed by Panthers @ Saints
Last Updated: 08/01/18 1:51am
It's playoff time, folks.
On Saturday, we saw two road upsets as the Tennessee Titans stunned the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Falcons shut down the Los Angeles Rams. However, the weekend isn't over yet...
Sunday night kicks off from 5.30pm on Sky Sports Action, with the Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) hosting their first playoff game since 1999 against a team whose last trip to the postseason was in that year - the Buffalo Bills (9-7). Then, the final Wild Card game is a mouth-watering NFC South rivalry between two the New Orleans Saints (11-5) and Carolina Panthers (11-5) - Sean Payton's squad got the better of Cam Newton and company on the two occasions they met this season.
Here's a look ahead to what's in store for Sunday night's Wild Card games...
Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sky Sports Action (407), Sunday, 5.30pm
In a tweet...
Two droughts come to an end, as the Bills play their first postseason game in 18 years, while the Jags host their first since that same year (2000).
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The health of LeSean McCoy could sway the result of this contest in a big way. The Bills running back is doubtful for the game after being carted off in Week 17 and hasn't been able to put in a full day of practice this week. The six-time Pro Bowler is the key to Buffalo's offensive success, and would be a huge loss if he can't play or isn't at 100 per cent.
The Jags have had their injury issues at receiver this season, and receiver Marqise Lee's availability is in question. However, Allen Hurns returned to action in Week 17 and should be healthier this weekend. That said, rookie Keelan Cole stepped up this season and ended up leading the team with 748 yards on 42 catches, eclipsing both vets.
Jacksonville's defense was the AFC's best. They finished top three in total defense, pass defense, points against, interceptions, sacks and total takeaways.
For Buffalo, if you take out the five interceptions thrown by back-up quarterback Nathan Peterman in a wild Week 11, the Bills have given the ball away the fewest number of times of any team this season (11).
Turnovers. Blake Bortles may well have had his best season as a pro, leading his team to 10 wins, throwing his fewest interceptions and taking only 24 sacks. However, for better or worse, this game could end up in his hands - and that's exactly what the Bills will want. In Jacksonville's past two games (both losses), Bortles has thrown five interceptions and looked like a disaster waiting to happen. The Bills ended up with the sixth-most interceptions this season, with 18, and if they can keep it close, they will fancy their chances.
Leonard Fournette. If LeSean McCoy was fully healthy, he'd be perhaps the most important playmaker in this game. However, a hobbling veteran will give young Jags star Fournette the opportunity to be the back who takes over the game. The Jaguars had the league's best rushing attack in 2017, averaging over 140 yards per game. Fournette had 1,342 total yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games. Meanwhile, Buffalo had the fourth-worst run defense, and may not be able to stop the first-year star. Look for Jacksonville to get the ball in Fournette's hands 25 times or more.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
Sky Sports Action (407), Sunday, 9.40pm
In a tweet...
Two fierce NFC South rivals fight it out for the third time this season. The Saints won the first two - can they complete the whitewash?
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The two biggest name absentees for Carolina in practice have been Devin Funchess and Matt Kalil, but both will play. Greg Olsen will suit up after missing the first two match-ups between the teams this season.
Carolina's Christian McCaffrey is the first rookie running back in NFL history to have at least 70 receptions and five touchdown catches.
Saints' Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara became the first pair of running back team-mates in NFL history to tally more than 1,500 yards from scrimmage apiece.
Cam Newton has thrown for less than 185 yards in seven of the last nine games, and he will come up against one of the NFL's most improved passing defenses. They were third in interceptions and seventh in 'passer rating against' this season. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is a virtual lock for defensive rookie of the year. Newton will need to do better than he has in the two previous bouts to keep up with the high-flying New Orleans offense.
Alvin Kamara. It's hard to look past the rookie who has outshone other running backs in a stunning 2017 class. It's the year of the back, and Kamara may well have been the best of them. He had 728 yards rushing, 826 yards receiving, and 14 total touchdowns (including a kick-off return). If the Panthers can't figure out a way to slow him down, they are in for a long day.Watch Wild Card Weekend in the NFL playoffs, live on Sky Sports, continuing with Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars, on Sunday from 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports Action.