The Non-Fan’s Guide To The NFL Playoffs, Part 1: Wild Card Weekend

The NFL Playoffs are upon us, making a serious divide between those that care, and those that don’t. This guide is meant as an educational tool to provide simple understanding of some of the games’ meanings, as well as some names to know if you’re looking to impress anyone. All games are presented in chronological order.

Saturday, 4:35 PM (ET) Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts

Some basic facts: The Chiefs (the red team) went undefeated for a longer span than any other team in the NFL this year. They were pretty terrible in previous years, but have a new coach and quarterback, and the pair have brought the team from the worst in the league to a playoff contender (read: a lot better). The Colts (the blue team) have beaten some formidable teams earlier in the season, but the media has paid less attention to them as time went on.

Key Vocabulary

Andy Reid: Head Coach of Kansas City. He has been impressive for his first year with his new team (previously with the Philadelphia Eagles). If your friend is an Eagles fan, call Reid fat and you might get an affectionate hug or a chuckle with a friendly pat on the shoulder.

Andrew Luck: The quarterback of the Colts, he is sometimes referred to as a younger version of Peyton Manning – the guy likely to win Most Valuable Player this year, and the previous Colts quarterback.

Reggie Wayne: A wide receiver (read: guy who catches the ball) for Indianapolis who tore his ACL and is out for the rest of the season.

Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgable: “This would be an entirely different game if Reggie Wayne was on the field.”

Saturday, 8:10 PM (ET) New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

Some basic facts: New Orleans (the black and gold team) was viewed as one of the top teams in the league at midseason, and finished the season undefeated at home. After a couple of losses at the tail end of the year, however, they did not win their division (the NFC South) and are the road team against a very dangerous Eagles (the green team) group that scores a lot of points really quickly. The key here is to see if the Saints can play well on the road and find a way to stop Philadelphia’s offensive machine.

Key Vocabulary

Bountygate: The scandal that banned Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season. It was ruled that he instructed his players to seriously hurt other players to take them out of the game. He came back this year and is in the playoff hunt once more.

Chip Kelly: Sounds like one of the characters from Disney’s Splash Mountain log flume ride, but is the Eagles’ new head coach at the helm of an offense that attacks faster than any other in the league. The man’s a newcomer, but has garnered a lot of respect in his one year with the organization.

Time of Possession: A statistic that measures how long a team has had the ball throughout the game. Normally, you want that stat to be as high as possible. Philadelphia doesn’t care, they simply want to score as fast and as often as possible.

Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgable: “How screwed are the Eagles if they can’t score after boasting such a low time of possession?”

Sunday, 1:05 PM (ET) San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals

Some basic facts: This game has scandal written all over it. Many are arguing that the Chargers (the blue team) shouldn’t be in the playoffs because a penalty allowed them to keep playing a must-win game last week when it should have ended in a loss and eventually win. The League’s front office publicly admitted the mistake. No corrections were made. The Bengals (the orange team) were not a traditional playoff team until recent years, but have made the playoffs three years in a row for the first time in history.

Key Vocabulary

Pittsburgh Steelers: If you know fans of this team, send your condolences to them. Technically, they should be playing this game. To make them feel better, express to them that “Evil Mike Tomlin” is still one of the funnier fake Twitter accounts and that the way they ended this season has the future looking good.

Andy Dalton: The ginger menace of the NFL, and the Bengals quarterback. People like him in Cincy, but he needs to win playoff games to be considered one of the true top quarterbacks in the league.

Ryan Matthews: The running back for San Diego, he did not practice with the team on Wednesday. This is scary for Charger fans because he led a nice run game to compliment quarterback Phillip Rivers’s passing attack.

Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgable: “Matthews doesn’t look like that ankle is bothering him too much. If he can be effective, it should open up play-action.”

*For use only if Matthews is indeed playing. Google the answer in the bathroom if you need to.

Sunday, 4:40 PM (ET) San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Some basic facts: San Francisco (the red team) has owned the Packers (the green team) in the last three meetings between the two, including the playoff game that eliminated Green Bay last season. The Packers have found a way into the playoffs after their quarterback was injured for 7 weeks and the team was considered done for the season. This game is going to be very cold, with wind chills and possible actual temperatures below 0. The Packers’ record doesn’t show it, but the return of their quarterback and star wide receiver last week have them as dangerous of an offense as can be, though the defense is still widely questioned. The 49ers have a “punch you in the mouth” style defense that pits this game as a “power vs finesse” matchup.

Key Vocabulary

Aaron Rodgers: In the past two months, the guy watched his 5-2 team self destruct without him after he broke his collarbone. He then came back in the final game of the regular season to beat the same team that broke his bone and clinch an unlikely playoff appearance. You may recognize him from a myriad of State Farm commercials and cries of “Discount Double-check.”

Kaepernicking: This is the process of kissing your bicep after scoring a touchdown, made famous by one Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the 49ers, in their thrashing of the Packers in last season’s playoff game. If your rooting interests are vested in them, kiss your biceps when San Francisco scores.

Cheeseheads: These are plastic triangles of cheese that Packers fans wear on their heads. It is also not uncommon to refer to Packers fans as “cheeseheads.” The fad has spread and now Wisconsinites are found wearing plastic cheese clothing in many ways, including cowboy hats, sombreros, and bras.

Key commentary to make yourself seem knowledgable: “Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are talking about cheeseheads again… I bet they do that every year.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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