Top Revenge Matches to Watch in the NFL’s Wild-Card Weekend

According to Christopher Wallace’s definition, beef is when you need two gats to go to sleep; when your moms ain’t safe up in the streets; when I see you, guaranteed to be an ICU; when you make your enemies, start your Jeep; and when you roll no less than 30 deep. While I don’t know how many of this Wild-Card Weekend’s beefier matchups check off all those boxes, there’s quite a bit of history — and one could argue, animosity — in four of the six games.

We’ve got Tyreek Hill versus Kansas City, Mike McCarthy taking on Green Bay, Jared Goff against Los Angeles, and the ghost of Deshaun Watson facing Houston. Not all of them are as girthy as the others, and I’m in need of a gimmick, so this feels like a perfect time to bust out the ol’ arbitrary rank-O-meter.

May I present to you, in order from slider to Wagyu, the best beefs of Wild-Card Weekend.

4. Beef tartare: Cleveland at Houston

Joe Flacco is filling in for the player at the center of this beef, Watson, which is why it’s No. 4 on this list. I doubt the NBC booth will even mention the franchise QB who shall not be mentioned more than twice, and absolutely will shy away from showing fans holding creative slights directed toward Watson, who was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 massage therapists, most of them in the Houston area.

Ideally, the rematch of Week 16 will be more entertaining this time around, and it should be. CJ Stroud missed the first go due to concussion protocol, and the Browns subsequently blew the doors off the Texans in Houston. The Browns are favored by 4.5 on the road, with a terrifying defense, but they’re also the Browns and have decades of postseason misery, and some really bad karma going against them.

3. Bacon-wrapped filet: Mike McCarthy vs Green Bay

It wouldn’t take truth serum to get McCarthy and Packers fans to tell you that both have been happier since the split in 2018. Matt LaFleur installed a contemporary offense that helped Aaron Rodgers win a couple MVPs, and is paying dividends for new starter Jordan Love.

On the other side, McCarthy gets to helm a team relatively free of consequences. Jerry Jones never wants to admit a mistake, or hire a coach with a mind of his own, so the cycle of self-destruction progresses unfettered and McCarthy gets to think he’s a quality coach.

So why is it a beef at all? Green Bay fans think so little of McCarthy — which he knows, despite the clueless demeanor — that they’ll question LaFleur’s competence should the Pack lose to the Cowboys. Also, anytime a coach doesn’t want to talk about his time with a former team, you know he’s got a grudge.

2. Beef Wellington: Tyreek Hill vs Kansas City

There’s an entire season of What If? to be written about Hill staying a Chief. Think about it: Would Swifties allow Taylor to date Travis Kelce if he’s palling around with someone whose record on women is as repugnant as Hill’s? That would’ve prevented 2023’s two of the most coveted IPs — the NFL and Taylor Swift — from ever merging, and I’m just going to stop now because that reality is too painful to daydream about.

In this universe, the gods decided to hamstring the Dolphins’ deep threat with nagging injuries, sub-zero temperatures and a 7 p.m. start time Saturday. There’s not much that can slow down the Cheetah, but turning Arrowhead into an ice box is a good starting point.

I think the thing that upsets Hill the most is how Patrick Mahomes and Kelce don’t seem to think about him nearly as much as he dwells on them.

1. The old 96er: Jared Goff vs Los Angeles

Jared Goff, rightfully, feels like Matthew Stafford stole his Super Bowl ring, as the current Rams QB certainly didn’t do anything during LA’s title run that its former quarterback could not. The caveat is even though Goff has been markedly better than Stafford since the Rams’ championship, he never saw LA through to the promised land.

Now, Goff is extremely motivated to take Detroit there/shove it down Sean McVay’s quarter-zip, telling ESPN this week that the chip on his shoulder from that deal will “never leave me.” Meanwhile, I couldn’t tell you if Stafford has a pulse or really any drive to play football.

Detroit-LA is the Sunday nightcap and it’ll either be years of catharsis in the making for Goff, a decade for Lions fans or about as cruel a twist of storyline as possible. In one corner, we have a franchise, fan base and quarterback desperate for validation, and in the other, a team, QB and group of supporters who’ve been content hibernating for the past two seasons.