For the second time this NFL season, two games are scheduled for Saturday. The first playoff games of 2015 will take place on Wild Card Weekend when the Arizona Cardinals visit the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The NFC matchup will begin the day’s action, and the AFC game will conclude Saturday’s games in primetime. The contests will be broadcast on two different networks.
Below is a look at both Saturday playoff games, including start times, TV channels and predictions.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (4:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The two teams have met in the postseason once before. In 2009, the Cardinals visited the Panthers, pulling off a major upset and leaving with a 33-13 victory. Kurt Warner led Arizona to the Super Bowl that year, and he's admitted that he considered making a comeback this season, when quarterback Drew Stanton suffered an injury in Week 15. However, the No.5 seed in the NFC has no choice but to rely on Ryan Lindley, who’ll be making his first ever playoff start.
Cam Newton played in his first playoff game last year. The Panthers got a first-round bye, but they lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers, 23-10. Newton completed 16 of 25 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 10 times for 54 yards.
Arizona has lost two in a row and four of their last six games. Carolina is on a four-game winning streak.
Prediction: Carolina over Arizona, 23-13
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC)
The rivals have met in the playoffs three times since 2002, and the Steelers have come out on the winning end each time. Pittsburgh won by 17 points in 2002, nine points in 2009, and they topped Baltimore, 31-24, in 2011. Ben Roethlisberger got the start in each of the last two playoff games against the Ravens, totaling three touchdown passes and no interceptions. The quarterback has a career 10-4 playoff record with three Super Bowl appearances.
Last year was the only season in his seven-year career that Joe Flacco didn’t lead Baltimore to the postseason. Flacco has won at least one game in each of his five postseason appearances. During the team’s 2013 playoff run, in which Flacco helped Baltimore win the Super Bowl, the quarterback threw 11 touchdown passes and committed no turnovers.
The two teams split their 2014 season series. Pittsburgh has won four games in a row, and Baltimore has won three of their last four contests.
Prediction: Pittsburgh over Baltimore, 30-20