WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the first time since George W. Bush was president, ending the NFL's longest postseason drought in either conference.
Not only do they have that in common, but both teams will also be making their playoff debuts this weekend after a 19-year and 13-year absence, respectively, on WPTV.
Under the new expanded 14-team playoff, the top seed in each conference gets a bye during the wild-card round. The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers are the top seeds in the AFC and NFC.
With the addition of a wild-card team in each conference, the NFL will feature a tripleheader of games on both days of the wild-card weekend for the first time ever.
WPTV will provide the nightcap to both days when the Browns visit the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buccaneers visit the Washington Football Team.
Tampa Bay at Washington, 8 p.m. Saturday
The Buccaneers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, in large part thanks to the arrival of quarterback Tom Brady. But they'll have to win on the road if they want to become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl in their home stadium.
Despite having a losing record, Washington won its division and will host the 11-win Bucs. The only other teams to make the playoffs with a losing record in a 16-game regular season have gone on to win their first game.
If Brady and the Bucs can navigate road wins in the divisional round and conference championship game, they'll be right at home at Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl LV.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 8 p.m. Sunday
It's been even longer since Cleveland was in the playoffs. The Browns are in for the first time since 2002, when former Miami Hurricanes and current Florida International head coach Butch Davis was in charge.
The Browns will be tasked with beating the slumping Steelers, who lost four of their final five regular-season games, including a 24-22 loss at Cleveland last weekend, after an 11-0 start. But the Steelers have knocked the Browns out of the playoffs in their previous two appearances in 2002 and 1994.
Another setback is that Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19, along with two assistant coaches and two players, and will not be available for the game. That means special teams coordinator Mike Priefer will serve as acting head coach at Pittsburgh.