It's win or go home for the 12 teams in the NFL wild card round
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
The NFL playoffs start tomorrow. Wild card round - six games, 12 teams - half go home. ESPN's Jesse Washington is here to be our guide. Jesse, let's start with the Kansas City Chiefs. They're hosting the Miami Dolphins. KC has won two Super Bowls the last four years. They have not been as dominant. This year, are the defending champs vulnerable?
JESSE WASHINGTON: Very vulnerable, you know? And also, to add insult to injury, their great former receiver Tyreek Hill is coming back with the Dolphins. So they're going to have a lot on their hands to slow down Tyreek, slow down Miami's quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. But there's a factor - the weather. It's going to be crazy cold in Kansas City. As we know, dolphins are warm-blooded mammals.
WASHINGTON: The football-playing Dolphins have lost 10 straight games when the kickoff temperature was under 40 degrees. So that might balance it out a bit.
MARTÍNEZ: That would actually be a factor, Jesse, if real dolphins were actually playing the game. I think that would - then the Chiefs would have a big advantage.
WASHINGTON: Yes, they would. But, you know, these - the football Dolphins, man, they don't play well in the cold. The Chiefs play great in the cold. The Chiefs are 9-1 at home when it's under 40 degrees. So that might balance things out.
MARTÍNEZ: And one wrinkle for this game, too - tomorrow's game is going to be the first-ever NFL playoff game exclusively on a streaming service - in this case, Peacock. I got to imagine some fans who don't have Peacock are probably not too happy.
WASHINGTON: Yeah. You know, I mean, we're in a brand-new world here. It's streaming. You know, I mean, I wanted to turn on my TV and put the tinfoil on the hanger and try and get the game that way. But that's just how it goes. So you better get that Peacock up - a trial subscription or something - if you want to see that game.
MARTÍNEZ: There you go, boomers. So you got to - you actually sign on to a streaming service to watch this game. OK, the Browns - the Cleveland Browns - are facing the Houston Texans. That's the second Saturday game. The Browns, Jesse, have not only not won a Super Bowl. They've never even been to a Super Bowl. And they're in the playoffs this year. Did they take everyone by surprise this year?
WASHINGTON: They did, especially at the quarterback position. You know they had the old Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. He got up out of there after some sexual assault allegations. He's been playing well. He's injured. And who comes off the couch but 38-year-old Joe Flacco. And he's at the quarterback spot balling out. He's 4-1 for Cleveland as a starter, and he's playing well. However, I don't think that they're going to be able to beat the Texans in Houston. They played this year already, and Cleveland won. But the Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud - the runaway choice for rookie of the year - he didn't play that game. He's playing in this game. I expect the Texans to win.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. That Browns defense is suffocating. And they got a rookie quarterback they're facing. So that should be a good matchup for them. OK, so speaking of quarterbacks, the Rams are in Detroit playing the Lions. Matthew Stafford is the Rams quarterback. He played his first 12 seasons with the Lions. It's a homecoming in a way. I mean there's got to be some emotions there, right?
WASHINGTON: A ton of emotions, you know? I mean it's a switcheroo here because Jared Goff used to be the Rams quarterback.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Yeah.
WASHINGTON: And they were traded for each other. So they know each other, you know? And Stafford played in Detroit for 12 seasons. Then he immediately went over to LA and won a Super Bowl. So Detroit hasn't won a playoff game in 32 years. They're playing well, but the Rams are red hot. They turn their season around, and they're just balling out. They got Aaron Donald back. They're still wreaking havoc. I read that Aaron Donald called his former teammate, now opposing QB, Jared Goff this week and just said, hey, man, I'm proud of you, and I'm coming for you.
MARTÍNEZ: Jesse, we have a producer here who's from Dearborn, Mich., who lives and dies with the Lions. Could you just say they're going to win? Just for him.
WASHINGTON: Man, you put me in a bad spot here. But I think that the Rams are going to win.
MARTÍNEZ: Oh. That's ESPN's Jesse Washington. Jesse, thanks.
WASHINGTON: Thank you.
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