Has there ever been a better Wild Card Weekend lineup in the NFC? Tell me how it could possibly be more compelling. Headlining the dance card for the first round of the NFL playoffs, though, is the Sunday night game between the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions.
Think there’s a little bit of anticipation for this one? Check out the ticket prices for the cheap seats.
The CHEAPEST ticket to Lions-Rams/Goff-Stafford at @tickpick is $552.
The next most expensive (non-standing room) is Packers at Cowboys ($336)
This will be the first time they’ve faced off since the blockbuster trade that sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams after a dozen seasons of exile in the Football Siberia that Detroit used to be known as.
Stafford went Hollywood, delivering LA a Super Bowl in his first year with Sean McVay. However, thanks in large part to the assets the Lions acquired in that deal, they’ve overhauled their culture, rebuilt their roster, and are looking like a perennial postseason contender going forward.
Stafford’s counterpart, Jared Goff, got the Rams to a Super Bowl once upon a time, and was even rewarded a huge contract. They were basically begging Detroit to take Goff off their hands and ate a ton of dead money to, in essence, pay Goff not to play for them. Credit to the former No. 1 overall pick for sticking out a tough 0-10-1 start with his new team. Goff’s steady leadership, precision and passing prowess from the pocket, and his personal resilience have the Lions’ offense humming as one of the very best in the league.
Among all the reactions to this impending showdown, this is my favorite, and will always be when it’s so apropos because this scene from Sorry to Bother You may very well be the single greatest, layered, hilarious exchange of dialogue in 21st century cinema to date.
Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff on Sunday night when the Rams face the Lions in Detroit during Wild Card Weekend:pic.twitter.com/EPc774994K
If you want my opinion on what the best one-liner is, here you go, from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Supporting Actor Golden Globe winner Robert Downey Jr. is on the business end of Val Kilmer’s glorious delivery:
OK I’m getting distracted.
Why is SUPER Wild Card Weekend going to live up to that namesake? Why is it going to be so lit, especially on the NFC side?
Because we have three of the most IDGAF quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. They’re all underdogs. They’re all playing with house money. And to borrow a phrase from one of those dudes, Baker Mayfield himself, they’re all going to wake up feeling pretty damn dangerous.
Think about it: Nobody expected the Rams to make the playoffs. They had two-plus draft classes worth of rookies on their roster. Somehow they nailed many of those picks, none more aggressively than record-setting fifth-round receiver Puka Nacua.
Stafford is the ultimate gunslinger. Speculation swirled that McVay might retire from coaching at this time last year. This Rams core already has a Lombardi Trophy in tow. Zero pressure is on them. All the burden is on the Lions after their first division title in, what, three decades?
Just to touch on Baker and the other NFC duel before I circle on back to Lions-Rams to finish off: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are another team the vast majority of folks thought would suck this season. Instead, they won their fourth straight division crown.
Baker took over for Tom Brady, on a peanuts-esque contract, with his career on the line, and responded with his best year yet. Despite how awful the Philadelphia Eagles have looked of late, they’re 2.5-point road favorites last I checked. Umm, Philly just finished 1-5 and lost its last two to teams who combined for 10 wins. You don’t think Baker Mayfield and this Bucs squad are going to have boulder-sized chips on their shoulders? LOL.
Finally, the people’s MVP, Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love. Sometimes it’s better to not know what you don’t know, if that makes sense. These Packers are the youngest team in football. They don’t know any better. All they do is continue to improve. Love is playing like a legit top-five QB on the planet. Can you believe these are real stats?
It wasn't quite Run the Table, but Jordan Love's final 8 games came damn close.
Could any casual fans outside of Cheesehead Nation even name three Packers wide receivers? Love is lighting it up, Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur is in his bag as a play-caller, and his team will travel to Dallas to face the man he succeeded, Mike McCarthy.
The Cowboys are “America’s Team.” They’re the biggest brand, most valuable franchise, and so on. Their playoff record since the 1998 season is 4-11. McCarthy just posted his third straight 12-5 record for Dallas. Himself and Dak Prescott could give their legacies a bigger boost than just about any coach-QB combo around. OR, they could take massive hits if they blow it yet again.
OK but let’s close this out on the Stafford-Goff faceoff for the ages. You know who ultimately made this clash of titans possible? None other than Carson Wentz, the man drafted directly behind Goff to none other than the Philadelphia Eagles — who look much like the slobbering mess of an offense they were when Wentz was initially ousted in favor of Jalen Hurts!
Carson Wentz would be the first Rams QB to beat the 49ers in the regular season since…
…And with whom did Baker Mayfield revamp his chances at one last starting job last season in a five-game stint? None other than the Los Angeles Rams! McVay has that boosting impact on his assistant coaches who move for jobs elsewhere. Just ask Packers coach Matt LaFleur.
Who’s the newest hot-name offensive coordinator who’ll be circled for the myriad head coaching vacancies? Detroit’s Ben Johnson!
The offensive play-caller battles we’re getting in the NFC are McCarthy vs. LaFleur, Ben Johnson vs. McVay, and Tampa up-and-comer Dave Canales vs. …oops. In-over-his-head Eagles OC Brian Johnson. And to bring this point about all-encompassing connectivity and synchronicity full circle, here’s a sample of what Philly fans are thinking to themselves:
Here’s Carson Wentz successfully running a QB draw today
If this isn’t the world laughing at Brian Johnson, Nick Sirianni, and the Eagles, I don’t know what is
The more I look at this NFC, the more I start thinking we could be in for absolute chaos this weekend and beyond.
Sure, the 49ers look like the clear-cut favorite. I would say Dallas if not for their penchant for postseason flops. I’m telling you. The Rams-Lions Sunday nighter has the chance to be an all-timer on its own, but Packers-Cowboys is the game right before, and we’re getting Eagles-Bucs as a standalone matchup next Monday evening. HOOOOH buddy. We’re in for something special.