TUCSON, AZ – Super Wild Card Weekend kicks off on Saturday, Jan. 13, with the Cleveland Browns heading to Texas to take on the Houston Texans. The main headlines this postseason will consist of the rise of CJ Stroud, the Detroit Lions finally returning to the postseason, and the Buffalo Bills stealing the No. 2 seed from beneath the Miami Dolphins' noses.
Needing something to root for with the Arizona Football team being done for the season (besides chaos), we found former Wildcats on the rosters (both active and otherwise) of NFL playoff teams and evaluated their chances of seeing the field and helping their teams in pursuit of a championship.
West Virginia fans and casual NFL fans may dispute Arizona's claim to Fields, considering he transferred out of the program following the nine-game skid to end the 2019 season. However, this was simply a good business decision with then-head coach Kevin Sumlin's firing imminent and the program headed towards dark, dark days. Fields earned his stripes with the Wildcats and also earned the right to amicably leave and boost his draft stock with West Virginia.
As a former fifth-round pick out in the 2021 NFL Draft, he's emerged as a reliable rotational piece and has seen meaningful playing time over the last two seasons. In 2022, he finished the year with 48 total tackles and three turnovers in the form of a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a 16-yard pick-six. 2023 has been a bit quieter with just 34 tackles and a fumble recovery, but he's been active and played a role in each of the last five games.
Fields will certainly be on the field throughout the playoffs, holding down the role as the starting Mike linebacker next to Will linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. With a tough first test against a fiery Stroud-led Texans team, watch for #42 in the orange helmet to get involved.
Flannigan-Fowles, who spent four seasons with Arizona as a 6 foot 2, 200-pound safety, has carved out a solid rotational role as a linebacker in his four seasons in the NFL. His best season was back in 2021 when he saw action in 12 games and posted a career-high 29 total tackles. He posted his first career sack — and only one to date — in 2022 against the Carolina Panthers.
He saw a downtick in production in 2023, but being slated behind Fred Warner on the depth chart will limit playing opportunities. Despite this, he's coming off a career game in Week 18 against the Los Angeles Rams where he posted 10 total tackles, with six of them being solo. He will see sparing rotational snaps in the playoffs, but San Francisco's first-round bye will prevent Arizona fans from seeing him this week and a stacked linebacker corps will hamper his opportunities.
Taylor is the fourth-string running back for Houston, with Devin Singletary holding down the starting spot and Dameon Pierce seeing about a third of the total touches out of the backfield as the backup. Should either of them go down with an injury that knocks them out of the playoffs, Dare Ogunbowale would then step into the vacated backup role.
Only in that case would Taylor potentially get elevated to the active roster, and the Texans don't seem to use their third-string running back unless he's kicking emergency field goals. Ogunbowale saw eight rushing attempts for 35 yards and caught two passes for 18 yards, so don't plan to see Taylor much — if at all — during the postseason.