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AFC Playoff matchups set: Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals headline things

The AFC Playoff matchups for Wild Card Weekend have been set following the early-afternoon Week 18 games.

Things were thrown for a loop after last Monday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals was canceled due to the scary situation regarding Damar Hamlin. The league then opted to change its seeding structure with both Buffalo and Cincinnati having played one less game than their counterparts in the conference.

As Hamlin’s situation improves, a ton of the focus has turned to how the AFC Playoff matchups would look during the opening weekend of postseason football. We now have full clarity on that.

By virtue of their win over the New York Jets and losses by both the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, the injury-plagued Miami Dolphins will be playing postseason football. Mike McDaniel and Co. come in as the seventh seed in the AFC.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati’s win over the Baltimore Ravens will set up a rematch between these two divisional opponents on Wild Card Weekend. Cincinnati avoided a coin-toss to figure out who would host said game by defeating the Ravens’ third-string quarterback.

With the Kansas City Chiefs locked into a first-round bye, Buffalo took the No. 2 seed via its dramatic win over New England. As for the other two teams in the AFC Playoffs, the Jacksonville Jaguars earned the fourth seed by winning the AFC South and will take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Below, we look at the AFC Playoffs and matchups for Wild Card Weekend.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

AFC Playoff matchups for Wild Card Weekend

afc playoff matchups: miami dolphins at buffalo bills
JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK
  • 7. Miami Dolphins (9-8) @ 2. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
  • 6. Baltimore Ravens (10-7) @ 3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
  • 5. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) @ 4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

Miami was able to defeat the New York Jets in Week 18 with rookie seventh-round pick Skylar Thompson under center. It’s not yet known who will start in Western New York against Buffalo next weekend. Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated pinky finger last week and was questionable heading in.

Tua Tagovailoa’s status remains unknown after he suffered a third concussion of the season back in Week 16. His status for the AFC Playoffs is up in the air right now. Miami’s win over New York ended a five-game losing streak.

As for Buffalo, its emotional return to the field came six days after Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field in Cincinnati. It was touch-and-go for a while before Hamlin turned the corner while being attended to by personnel at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. We’re sure its game next weekend will also be filled with a ton of emotion.

Interestingly enough, Baltimore had a chance to earn home-field advantage in its wild card game against Cincinnati with a win on Sunday. That’s due to the NFL changing its playoff structure despite the Bengals having already won the AFC North. A victory for Baltimore would’ve set up a coin-toss for home-field.

With Lamar Jackson still sidelined to a knee injury, Baltimore opted to go with Anthony Brown at quarterback instead of Tyler Huntley. John Harbaugh and Co. didn’t want to risk injury to Huntley just in case Jackson is not able to return for the AFC Playoffs. It resulted in a 27-16 loss to Cincinnati.

As for the Bengals, the defending AFC champions head into the postseason having won eight consecutive games.

One of the most-interesting matchups of the NFL Playoffs will come when the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars host the Los Angeles Chargers in Duval. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence has Jacksonville in the midst of a five-game winning streak after defeating the Tennessee Titans Saturday night.

Lawrence and Co. will try their luck against another young quarterback in Justin Herbert during the AFC Wild Card Playoffs next weekend.

The NFL will announce its kickoff times and dates for the three AFC Playoff matchups Wild Card Weekend following Sunday Night Football. Sportsnaut will be all over that announcement.