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Pitt in the Pros

Pitt Football in the Playoffs: Wild Card Weekend

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While it may not be another season in which former Pitt stars face off in the Super Bowl, with Pitt’s resident NFL superstar standing atop the mountain, it’s still another season of Pitt in the playoffs.

There are a handful of former Pitt stars playing on Wild Card this season, the action coming on Sunday and Monday, and there are storylines to follow.

Let’s take a look at who is playing when and where.

 

AFC Wild Card: No. 7 Miami Dolphins at No. 2 Buffalo Bills 

Kickoff: Sunday, 1 p.m. on CBS

Who to watch: Buffalo Bills CB Dane Jackson, Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin (injured), Miami Dolphins DT Jaylen Twyman

It will be an emotional afternoon at Highmark Stadium Sunday, especially if Damar Hamlin is able to be in attendance.

The Bills are a Super Bowl contender, and the Dolphins are without their top two quarterbacks. Bills quarterback Josh Allen will be matched up against rookie Skylar Thompson — who is making his first playoff start and second NFL start as a whole.

And Dane Jackson and the Bills’ secondary will attempt to make Thompson’s playoff debut even more difficult. He started both of the Bills’ playoff games last season, recording 10 tackles (nine solo) and a tackle for loss.

Twyman made a heroic comeback to the NFL this season, but he isn’t expected to play much for the Dolphins Sunday.

NFL Wild Card: No. 6 New York Giants at No. 3 Minnesota Vikings 

Kickoff: Sunday: 4:30 p.m. on FOX

Who to watch: Minnesota Vikings OL Brian O’Neill (injured), Minnesota Vikings OLB Patrick Jones II, New York Giants CB Jason Pinnock

Brian O’Neill suffered a partially torn Achilles earlier this month, so he will not be available to help protect Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Regardless, it will still be a battle of two of the NFL’s bigger surprise stories this season.

Patrick Jones, who will attempt to generate pressure on Giants quarterback Daniel Jones, and Jason Pinnock, who will attempt to pick off Cousins a few times, will face off in their first taste of the NFL playoffs.

AFC Wild Card: No. 6 Baltimore Ravens at No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals 

Kickoff: Sunday, 8:15 p.m. on NBC

Who to watch: Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals LS Cal Adomitis

It may be tough for Pittsburgh Steelers fans to root for a divisional foe, but the Bengals feature a pair of key contributors on offense and special teams.

Joe Burrow leads last season’s AFC champions against a Lamar Jackson-less Ravens squad in an AFC North matchup at Paycor Stadium. Tyler Boyd, who hauled in 15 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown during the march to the Super Bowl last season, will once again serve as a sure-handed target for Burrow.

Cal Adomitis will make his playoff debut this season, holding down the long snapping duties for the Bengals.

NFC Wild Card: No. 5 Dallas Cowboys at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kickoff: Monday, 8:15 p.m. on ABC/ESPN

Who to watch: Dallas Cowboys RB Qadree Ollison

It hasn’t been a glamorous opportunity for Qadree Ollison with the Cowboys this season, as he’s handled special teams work in his three games played, but he’s holding down a roster spot.

Ollison, a reserve running back and special teamer for the Cowboys, may not see the field as the Cowboys square off against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa. The Bucs were the only NFL divisional winner to clinch their division with a losing record this season.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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