I talked about the general idea here, and then set the field of 80 here, so you will want to glance at those or this will make little sense. Today, we start the games with the opening round matchups between the teams seeded 13 through 20 in each region. You should be able to click on each matchup and see the What If Sports box score and play by play. As we know, games aren't played on paper, they are played inside tiny computers, so let's get to the action. We'll start in the Tampa Region.
TAMPA REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES
#20 1992 Buffalo Bills at #13 1980 Philadelphia Eagles
The score was 10-7 in favor of Buffalo in the third quarter when Mark Kelso intercepted Ron Jaworski, leading to a Thurman Thomas TD catch. Philadelphia fought back in the fourth quarter, getting to within 3 points when Tony Franklin missed a 43 yard attempt that would have tied it right before the two minute warning. With the Eagles blitzing to stop the run and get the ball back, Thomas sealed the game when he broke through the line and found the endzone 63 yards later.
Buffalo 24, Philadelphia 21
Next up: at #4 1990 San Francisco 49ers
#19 2008 Arizona Cardinals at #14 1975 Dallas Cowboys
Swirling winds in Dallas made life difficult on the offenses, and the kickers combined to miss all three field goals beyond 40 yards. The Cardinals turned in a gutty performance on the road, and had first and goal trailing by 4 points right before the two minute warning. Lee Roy Jordan stepped in front of Kurt Warner's pass on third down to save Dallas.
Dallas 17, Arizona 13
Next up: at #3 2005 Indianapolis Colts
#18 1981 San Diego Chargers at #15 1999 Tennessee Titans
Rolf Benirschke's 49 yard field goal as time expired saved Kellen Winslow from having to come up with overtime heroics, sending Air Coryell on against the Purple People Eaters.
San Diego 13, Tennessee 10
Next up: at #2 1969 Minnesota Vikings
#17 1986 Denver Broncos at #16 1987 Cleveland Browns
The Drive. The Fumble. Revenge for Cleveland?
No. Elway hits Orson Mobley for Denver's only touchdown of the game with less than a minute left to win another close one.
Denver 10, Cleveland 7
Next up: at #1 2007 New England Patriots
NEW ORLEANS REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES
#20 2000 New York Giants at #13 1981 Cincinnati Bengals
Kerry Collins throws for over 300 yards as the Giants jump to an early lead that they never relinquish.
New York Giants 27, Cincinnati 10
Next up: at #4 1967 Los Angeles Rams
#19 1985 New England Patriots at #14 1974 Minnesota Vikings
Fred Cox and Tony Franklin have a field goal battle. Minnesota was shutout through three quarters, but Tony Eason throws two costly interceptions, the last one coming at midfield with a minute left in a tie game, and Cox nails the game winner. Chuck Foreman goes for 165 total yards.
Minnesota 12, New England 9
Next up: at #3 1994 Dallas Cowboys
#18 1989 Denver Broncos at #15 2002 Oakland Raiders
Gannon outduels Elway as the Raiders jump to an early lead.
Oakland 26, Denver 14
Next up: at #2 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers
#17 1999 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at #16 1993 Buffalo Bills
The Bucs defense holds the Bills out of the endzone, but the Bucs offense cannot score. Andre Reed has 138 yards receiving on 3 catches.
Buffalo 15, Tampa Bay 0
Next up: at #1 1998 Minnesota Vikings
LOS ANGELES REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES
#20 1979 Los Angeles Rams at #13 1991 Buffalo Bills
Thurman Thomas is already on his way to the WCB rushing title with another strong performance, as the Bills move to 3-0 in the opening round.
Buffalo 17, Los Angeles 13
Next up: at #4 2006 San Diego Chargers
#19 1987 Denver Broncos at #14 1971 Miami Dolphins
Elway does his best Bob Griese impersonation, throwing only 13 passes as Denver tries to hold on to a lead. Miami fails twice in the red zone in the fourth and time runs out on Miami.
Denver 21, Miami 17
Next up: at #3 1983 Washington Redskins
#18 2003 Carolina Panthers at #15 1981 Dallas Cowboys
Jake Delhomme throws 3 interceptions, and Dallas cruises to a comfortable victory.
Dallas 30, Carolina 11
Next up: at #2 1992 San Francisco 49ers
#17 1995 Pittsburgh Steelers at #16 1979 Houston Oilers
If only the Luv Ya Blue Oilers didn't have to play the Steelers. Mike Reinfeldt of the Oilers gets 4 interceptions of Neil O'Donnell, but the offense can't get in the end zone, and the Steelers make their red zone trips count, pulling it out with a fourth quarter touchdown.
Pittsburgh 15, Houston 12
Next up: at #1 1968 Baltimore Colts
HOUSTON REGION OPENING ROUND GAMES
#20 1994 San Diego Chargers at #13 1976 Minnesota Vikings
Tarkenton throws for 3 touchdowns, and Foreman has another huge game, as the Vikings roll the Chargers.
Minnesota 30, San Diego 3
#19 1980 Atlanta Falcons at #14 2006 Chicago Bears
A 16-point second quarter is enough for the Falcons to take control of the game.
Atlanta 19, Chicago 13
Next up: at #3 1970 Minnesota Vikings
#18 1996 New England Patriots at #15 1982 Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins score two touchdowns in one decisive minute in the fourth quarter, on either side of a Bledsoe interception.
Miami 27, New England 17
Next up: at #2 1990 Buffalo Bills
#17 1993 Houston Oilers at #16 1966 Kansas City Chiefs
A spring snow storm hits the Midwest just in time to wreak havoc on the run-n-shoot Oilers. Moon throws three interceptions in bad conditions, while the Chiefs keep it on the ground for 231 rushing yards. The Oilers still have a chance because of four missed field goals by Kansas City (look for them to draft a
Danish Norwegian kicker as a result), but come up two yards short of the goal line as the game ends.
Kansas City 17, Houston 10
Next up: at #1 2001 Saint Louis Rams