NFL makes smart decision ahead of Buccaneers-Cowboys game

Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Cowboys, NFL (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Tom Brady, Buccaneers, Cowboys, NFL (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Super Wild Card Weekend isn’t done yet, but the NFL has confirmed what we’ve all been hoping for ahead of the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game.

Following two days of drama to open up this year’s NFL playoffs, Super Wild Card Weekend is scheduled to wrap up this evening (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN2/ABC) with a matchup between the No. 5 seed Dallas Cowboys (12-5) and the No. 4 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9).

Because the No. 6 seed New York Giants defeated the No. 3 seed Minnesota Vikings, the Giants will be the NFC team with the lowest remaining seed heading into the Divisional Round, meaning they are slated to take on the No. 1 seed Philadelphia Eagles following the Eagles’ first-round bye.

As a result, the winner of tonight’s game at Raymond James Stadium is set to head west to Santa Clara to take on the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the No. 7 seed Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in what remains the most lopsided game (18 points) of the weekend.

Though the Wild Card round isn’t yet complete, the NFL has already confirmed the schedule for next week’s games.

The NFL’s updated schedule is good news for whoever wins the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers game.

Because these two teams are playing on Monday night, it was always very unlikely that the NFL would schedule them to play in a Saturday game, thus giving them only four days of rest.

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The NFL avoided this last year in what was the first postseason to feature the new Monday night game. After beating the Arizona Cardinals to wrap up the Wild Card round, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t play again until the following Sunday afternoon, when they ended up beating the Buccaneers.

The NFL has avoided this potential issue again this year.

The game between the 49ers and whoever wins tonight’s game is set to wrap up the Divisional Round next Sunday night, with Fox set to broadcast the game live from Levi’s Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Yes, the 49ers will have two extra days to rest compared to the Cowboys or Buccaneers, having played on Saturday, and no need to travel. And of course, a potential rematch with the team that beat Tampa Bay by a score of 35-7 in the regular season isn’t ideal. But at least the turnaround for tonight’s winner will be reasonable.

Saturday’s games include an AFC matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs, as well as the aforementioned NFC matchup between the Giants and Eagles. The Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills are set to square off on Sunday afternoon.

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