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Ranking potential Wild Card playoff start times

From the Bleachers #95 on BGN Radio!

NFL: Washington Football Team at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Who the Eagles play come Wild Card weekend is obviously more important, but I can’t help but wonder when the Birds will play their first playoff game.

Football fans have had two-straight years where playoff scheduling has changed. Going into the 2020 season, the NFL added a third Wild Card team in both conferences, bringing the total number of playoff teams to 14. With only the top-seeded teams in their respective conferences getting a bye, the league expanded to triple-header games on both Saturday and Sunday of Wild Card weekend.

Some people would choose the first day of March Madness, but my favorite sports day of the year has long been that first Saturday of NFL playoff games. Getting three games that day last postseason felt like a gift from the football gods specifically for me. The vibes of a lively Saturday night are unmatched. Whether you’re hanging out with some friends or family, ordering or cooking something phenomenal or enjoying some cold ones (responsibly), it’s the perfect kickoff to real January football.

That format ended after just one year, as the NFL is now changing their schedule once again. There will still be three Sunday games this postseason, but only two Saturday ones. The football world is now getting Monday Night Football playoff action. I hate it, but we’ll get into that.

On the latest episode of From the Bleachers on BGN Radio, I ranked my preferred start times for Eagles games. Is this really that crucial when it comes to the Eagles’ postseason success? No, but my mind will not stop racing about every possible playoff scenario for the Birds and I need to get some of these thoughts out in the world.

Start times ranked from best to worst for the Eagles’ impending Wild Card playoff game:

1. Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET

I detailed how much I loved Saturday Wild Card games. I want to soak up the great energy the start of the playoffs brings. You’re throwing a couple of bets together (responsibly), crushing some pizza and wings and just living your best life. You can enjoy that Saturday to the fullest without the otherworldly stress that comes with the Eagles playing a postseason game. The late afternoon Sunday game gives you time to wake up Sunday, prepare yourself mentally and then use the 1:05 p.m. game as a warmup as you get all your Eagles superstitions in order. If the game ends around 8:00 p.m., you get a bit of time to either celebrate the big win and go wild or detox following a painful loss.

2. Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET

Again, I love chilling on that Saturday. Eagles fans are used to 1:00 p.m. Sunday games. It’s uniform and doesn’t throw you off mentally to be playing at an irregular time.

3. Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET

It’s easier to sleep in after a big Saturday night game than a huge Sunday game.

4. Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET

This game has Sunday Caries to the MAX!

5. Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET

In theory, there’s nothing wrong with this start time. What usually happens, however, is that the worst playoff matchup between two non-marquee teams gets this spot. If your favorite team is playing in this slot, it means the NFL doesn’t respect you. I’d imagine you’ll see Colts at Bengals or a similar game at this time in a couple of weeks.

6. Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

Perhaps in a year or two we’ll come to love Monday Night Football in the playoffs. For the Eagles though, I want no business of this. I get that Monday, January 17 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and some people will be off that day, but that’s not universal. When I was working a 9-to-5 gig before diving headfirst into the highly lucrative world of freelance sports writing and podcasting, I didn’t get off for MLK Day.

NFL fans deserve having an entire day dedicated to having their favorite squad in the postseason without worrying about anything else. I think back to the idea of me getting done work at 5:00 p.m, spending roughly 30 minutes getting home and then frantically trying to get a perfect ‘fit off and prepare for the biggest game of the year that feels like a life-or-death scenario. Yes, more people are working from home now than ever given the pandemic, but having to do a single iota of work or dealing with terrible Microsoft Outlook email threads on a day where the Birds play in the playoffs is just awful. That’s not even real work. For an Eagles fan doing something truly labor intensive, it’s even worse.