Last year, for the first time ever, Wild Card Weekend in the National Football League featured six games as the league expanded the postseason to 14 teams, with only the top seed in each conference receiving a first-round bye. There will be six games on Wild Card Weekend this year as well, but the league has announced that they’re going to be a bit more spread out.
The NFL announced on Friday that Wild Card Weekend will now feature a Monday Night contest in addition to having games played on Saturday and Sunday. The plan is to have two games on Saturday (with kickoffs at 3:35 PM and 7:15 PM Central time), three games on Sunday (12:05 PM, 3:40 PM, and 7:15 PM), and the Monday Night contest at 7:15 PM.
It is not known at this point how. . .or if. . .the league is going to work things to try to prevent the team that plays on Monday night from being at a disadvantage going into their next game. Divisional Playoff Weekend will continue to have games on both Saturday and Sunday, and it remains to be seen how things can be worked to ensure that a team that plays on Monday night isn’t playing on Saturday to be put at too much of a disadvantage.
Incidentally, the last NFL playoff game to take place on a Monday did feature our Minnesota Vikings. It took place on 26 December 1988, the day after Christmas, and featured the Vikings hosting the Los Angeles Rams at the Metrodome. In 1988, only ten teams made the playoffs, five from each conference (the expansion to 12 teams didn’t come until 1990), so there was only one Wild Card game in each conference. The AFC played their game on Christmas Eve, which was on Saturday, and the NFC did theirs the day after the holiday.
In that game, the Vikings defeated the Rams by a final score of 28-17. The Vikings got three of their four touchdowns via the ground game, with Alfred Anderson scoring twice and Allen Rice finding the end zone as well. The Vikings did get as much rest as possible, playing in the late game the following Sunday. . .but it didn’t matter as they went into Candlestick Park and got trounced by the San Francisco 49ers by a final score of 34-9. The Niners would go on to win the Super Bowl that year.
What do you think of the NFL stretching the first weekend of the playoffs into Monday night, folks?