After the NFL’s first 18 week season, it’s officially time for the 2022 NFL Playoffs, with 14 teams trying to make it to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13. There’s a lot of football still to be played before then, however, and we’re going to let you know what’s on the docket and how you can watch it all.
The first round of the playoffs features the Wild Card games, with all but the top seeds in the AFC and NFC (the Tennessee Titans and Green Bay Packers this year) set to play for the right to advance to the Divisional Round. Here are the matchups for this week’s batch of playoff games:
Saturday, Jan. 15
Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC
New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Sunday, Jan. 16
Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS & Nickelodeon
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs, 8:15 p.m. ET, NBC
Monday, Jan. 17
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN Plus
We’ll get into some brief matchup previews below, but this is what you need to know to tune into any/all of the NFL Playoffs Wild Card round games.
How to watch 2022 NFL Playoffs in the U.S.
No more worrying about what games will be playing in your area like there is in the regular season, as all NFL Playoff games are shown for a national audience. To make it even easier, all of the games will air on one of the four major networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) that serve every U.S. TV market and are provided by all traditional cable/satellite pay-TV providers or can be received through a TV antenna. If you’ve switched from a traditional pay-TV subscription service to a live TV streaming service, all four networks have a presence on some if not all of the major services, including FuboTV (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC), Hulu with Live TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC), Sling TV (Fox, NBC) and YouTube TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC).
The Cardinals vs Rams game is being simulcasted on ABC and ESPN. If you want to watch the game on the sports cable network you can do so with a traditional pay-TV subscription or live TV streaming service that offers it (FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV).
For those who have cut the cord entirely and gone with streaming over live TV, most NFL playoff games are still available to you. Peacock will live stream the Raiders vs Bengals and Steelers vs Chiefs games for Peacock Premium subscribers; Paramount Plus will have the Patriots vs Bills and 49ers vs Cowboys; and ESPN Plus will stream the Cardinals vs Rams. Fox does not have a streaming service that carries its NFL broadcasts; however, if you can’t watch the Eagles vs Buccaneers games on a TV, pay-TV/live TV streaming subscribers can watch it through the Fox Sports app or FoxSports.com.
Also, Nickelodeon will also be doing a kid-centric broadcast of the 49ers vs Cowboys game that helps explain the game to kids and features fun graphics, including Nickelodeon’s trademark slime. Nickelodeon is available on many traditional pay-TV subscriptions as well as FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.
Should you not be able to watch the games live, NFL Game Pass allows for on-demand viewing of all NFL Playoff games, as well as being able to go back and watch any game from the regular season.
How to watch the NFL Playoffs in the U.K.
NFL fans in the U.K. can tune in to all of the NFL Playoff action through Sky TV’s Sky Sports’ NFL channel, though it will be late night viewing for a number of the games. Here is the schedule of Wild Card games for U.K. audiences:
Saturday, Jan. 15
Raiders vs Bengals, 9 p.m. local time
Sunday, Jan. 16
Patriots vs Bills, 1 a.m. local time
Eagles vs Buccaneers, 5:30 p.m. local time
49ers vs Cowboys, 9:15 p.m. local time
Monday, Jan. 17
Steelers vs Chiefs, 1 a.m. local time
Tuesday, Jan. 18
Cardinals vs Rams, 1 a.m. local time
How to watch the NFL Playoffs from anywhere
Not anywhere where the NFL Playoffs are easily available? Don’t fret, there is a solution — a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN lets you get around the usual frustrating digital barriers by changing your IP address, meaning you can watch your favorite TV shows even if you’re going to be away from home.
Our favorite is ExpressVPN, which lets you change your IP address on whichever device you want to watch your new favorite show on.
From laptops to smart TVs, Amazon Fire Sticks, games consoles, and even mobile phones, you can change the address to make your device think it’s in a different location to enable you to watch the things you love around the world.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs out there. Not only because it is straightforward and easy to use, but it also has great security and, best of all, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NFL Playoffs: Wild Card game previews
Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Las Vegas Raiders were the last team to clinch a spot in the playoffs, doing so in dramatic fashion — a field goal as time expired in overtime. Their reward is to take on the AFC North champions Cincinnati Bengals. The two teams met earlier this season, with the Bengals winning 32-13.
Both the Raiders and the Bengals are driven offensively by their passing games. Cincinnati features second-year quarterback Joe Burrow and the trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The Raiders have been forced to spread the ball around a bit more in the passing game, though quarterback Derek Carr actually has amassed more yards and a better per game average than Burrow and the Bengals.
On the defensive side, the Raiders have had the better pass defense this season, but the Bengals know how to get after the quarterback, led by Trey Hendrickson’s 14 sacks and another 14.5 sacks by Sam Hubbard and Larry Ogunjobi.
The deciding factor may come from the run game. Each team has their own talented running back — Joe Mixon (1,205 rushing yards) for the Bengals and Josh Jacobs (average of 108 yards per game his last three games) for the Raiders.
The Bengals, who are the home team, are 6.5 point favorites in the game.
New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills
Division rivals meet up in the NFL playoffs as the Patriots and Bills will meet for an all important third time after splitting their two games in the regular season. The Patriots won the first matchup 14-10 while the Bills took the second 33-21.
This could be a defensive battle, as the Bills and Patriots have two of the best defenses in the league, including the top two in points per game allowed. Though if one offense is likelier to take the game over it is probably Buffalo, which fields a top-five offensive unit this season led by quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Though the Patriots appear to have found their Tom Brady successor in rookie Mac Jones, their most likely path to victory is running the ball first with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. That was what led them to a victory during a blistering cold and windy night in the first game.
Buffalo is a 4.5 point home favorite in the game.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady and the Bucs start their Super Bowl defense in the playoffs against the Philadelphia Eagles, a team they beat in Philadelphia 28-22 back in week 6. However, both teams are entering the playoffs looking substantially different than they did in that week 6 game.
For the Eagles, they came back from a 2-5 record to finish the season at 9-8. They did so by committing to their running game, which ended up as the league’s best (159.7 yards per game) thanks to dual-threat quarterback Jalen Hurts and a rotation of Miles Sanders (questionable for this playoff game), Jordan Howard, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell.
For the Bucs, their offense was second in the league in both yards per game and points per game, but they have suffered a rash of injuries and departures, including wide receivers Chris Godwin (injury) and Antonio Brown (cut after on-field outburst), though they are getting running back Leonard Fournette back. But let’s be honest, it all comes down to Tom Brady and whether or not he still proves to be clutch in the playoffs. Father Time hasn’t caught him yet, so hard to bet against him.
Oddsmakers certainly aren’t, as the Bucs are favored by 8.5 points.
San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys
The 49ers vs Cowboys is the only Wild Card matchup that is not a rematch from the regular season, though it is a renewal of a rivalry that has had many memorable playoff moments.
This matchup will also be the classic battle of offense vs defense, as the Cowboys top-ratted offense faces off against the 49ers’ stingy, top-three defense. The Cowboys have a litany of weapons for Dak Prescott to utilize like Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and Dalton Schultz, while the 49ers are effective in stopping either he run or the pass and have studs of their own in Nick Bosa and Fred Warner.
In the reverse matchup of the 49ers offense against the Cowboys defense, the 49ers actually have the edge. Statistically the 49ers have the seventh-ranked total offense predicated on getting the ball into the hands of their playmakers like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell. The Dallas D has Pro Bowlers in Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons, but overall the unit ranks in the bottom half of the league.
Dallas is still the home favorite though, but just by 3 points.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
It was just three weeks ago that the Steelers were beaten by the Chiefs in Kansas City 36-10. Will this game be a repeat or can the Steelers make things interesting?
The Steelers scrapped their way into the playoffs in what is expected to be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s final season with the team. His (and the team’s) gift is to play Kansas City, who have won nine of their last 10 games, have represented the AFC in the last two Super Bowls and have one of the best quarterbacks in the game right now in Patrick Mahomes.
For the Steelers to have a chance they likely need to pressure Mahomes into making mistakes; lucky for them they have T.J. Watt, who tied the all-time single season sack record this season with 22.5 sacks. A little Roethlisberger magic wouldn’t hurt to get a struggling offense going, as they face one of the best offenses in the league from the Chiefs.
Kansas City is the biggest favorite of the weekend, with oddsmakers giving them 12.5 points.
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams
It’s another division matchup in the Wild Card round, and again it follows a split season series. Even so, the Rams edged out the Cardinals for the NFC West crown and earned home field advantage for this game.
Judging by offensive statistics, these teams are just about equal. The Cardinals averaged one yard more per game this season and the Rams averaged less than a point more per game. Where they differ is the Rams are much more pass heavy, led by wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s fantastic year, while the Cardinals running game has performed better than the Rams’, featuring the rushing ability of quarterback Kyler Murray and running backs James Conner and Chase Edmonds. The Cardinals defense is better in yards per game allowed but the Rams get after the quarterback better (though J.J. Watt could return to boost the Cardinals pass rush).
The road teams won each game earlier this season. The Rams are at home this time and are 4 point favorites.