Football

NFL Wild Card Predictions

The NFL Playoffs are slated to start this weekend with some tough matchups. It was a crazy end to the season with the Dolphins and Cardinals just falling short of making the playoffs this year after bounce back years for both teams. The Colts and Bears who took their place are looking to upset their opposing matchups as they narrowly made the playoffs. In this article, we’ll break down our projections for those matchups and the remaining playoff games set to play this weekend. 

AFC Matchups:

#2 vs. #7 – Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Buffalo Bills behind Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and a top notch-defense have been superb this season. The Bills are the division winners with their first ever sweep of their division rivals with a strong 13-3 record. The 3 losses the Bills had were to teams with an .500 record or better and 2 of them being potential Super Bowl Contenders in the Tennessee Titans and the Super Bowl favorite Kansas City Chiefs. Josh Allen and new to Buffalo receiver Stefon Diggs had an instant connection allowing for many franchise records to be matched and broken by the pair. Allen is a MVP candidate for a reason and will look to continue his dominance into the postseason as the Bills host their first playoff matchup in nearly 25 years.

The Indianapolis Colts squeaked into the playoffs ending the season against the league-worst Jacksonville Jaguars which they struggled to play during the first 3 quarters of the game. Despite having one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Colts offense has failed to produce at the level you would expect. Jonathan Taylor has quietly been growing as a player and has a promising future ahead, but Phillip Rivers level of production has halted Taylor and other players from being better contributors. On the other end of the ball, they haven’t needed Rivers to succeed as well due to their fierce defense which scares opposing running backs.

Prediction: With the MVP-Level season from Josh Allen and the consistent level of output from Stefon Diggs, Buffalo has no need to worry about how well they will play this week. The Colts on the other hand have been rather inconsistent this season with only making the playoffs due to a favorable schedule, a strong offensive line and a better defense. We don’t know which Colts team will show up in Buffalo but regardless, the Bills are the better team all around and will take this one with ease. 

Final Score: Buffalo defeats Indianapolis with a score of 31-14. 

#3 vs. #6 – Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

In a rematch of the Week 17 Showdown which led to the Browns first playoff appearance in over 20 years, the Steelers are set to take on the Browns in the Wild Card Round. The Steelers were the lone undefeated team through Week 11 of the season before losing 3 games straight and 4 of their last 5 games to close out the season. The Steelers have been in a bit of a slump on offense and defense, although their defense finished as one of the top 3 defenses in the league. The Steelers did sit their starters to rest against the Browns which was a large part of why they lost and even remained competitive throughout the game. 

The Browns are in the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years and are looking for their first playoff win since then as well. In a mere couple years, the Browns went from winless to being 11-5 and in the playoffs, what a turn of events it has been for the Browns organization. The Browns offense and defense have both been average throughout the season with the exception of the Browns running attack being one of the best in the NFL with the powerhouse backs of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb is one of the top backs in the league, but the passing game needs work which has held Cleveland back along with their defense for giving up big plays. 

Prediction: The Steelers lost by 2 to the Cleveland Browns who were fighting for their lives last Sunday, only 2 with their backups. The key players for the Steelers should be well-rested and ready to take on the Cleveland Browns and end their feel-good season early. The Steelers will look to put Cleveland’s hopes to bed with their league-leading defense. 

Final Score: Pittsburgh defeats Cleveland with a score of 24-16. 

#4 vs. #5 – Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens

In a battle of 2 of the league’s leading running threats, Derrick Henry and quarterback Lamar Jackson, we should be in store for an exciting matchup. Baltimore’s quarterback made NFL history by being the 1st quarterback with multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Lamar hasn’t had his best passing season but has been quick on his feet which hasn’t needed him to succeed out of the pocket. The Ravens haven’t had the season they would have liked to see out of Marquise Brown and other members of their offense, but they are still a threat nonetheless as one person can show up on any given week and rise to the occasion. 

The Tennessee Titans, winners of the AFC South are led by powerhouse back, Derrick Henry who managed an impressive 2,000 yard season. Henry has been putting up highlight reels throughout the entirety of the season with most notable being his impressive stiff arm during the Buffalo game. Derrick Henry has been a force to be reckoned with and Tannehill has been impressive with reviving his career as a Titan. Tannehill has succeeded with the help of Henry, a more reliable offensive line and young weapons in Corey Davis and A.J. Brown who are building strong futures for themselves. The Titans will look to show off their offensive talent against the Ravens in this tough showdown.

Prediction: Both teams enter this matchup with an 11-5 record. The Ravens are seeking revenge on the Titans for the upset the Titans had over the Ravens in the playoffs last season. This will be a high-scoring matchup which the surging Ravens will take as they will continue to be the hottest team in the National Football League. 

Final Score: Ravens defeat the Titans with a score of 34-28. 

NFC Matchups:

#2 vs. #7 – New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears

The 12-4 Saints are host to the 8-8 Bears who squeaked into the playoffs thanks to a loss by the Arizona Cardinals. The Chicago Bears have had a season of ups and downs with being one of the few teams left undefeated early in the season, followed by several losses, and a couple key wins in the closing weeks of the season to secure their spot in the playoffs. The Bears started the season with Mitch Trubisky, benched Trubisky for Nick Foles and shortly after returned to Trubisky who isn;t only playing for the Bears playoff hopes, but playing for his future as the former first round pick’s days with Chicago looked like they were coming to an end. Trubisky has been playing better than expected with the help of Allen Robinson and young running back David Montgomery. 

The New Orleans Saints have gone through several changes at quarterback this season as well but under much different circumstances. Drew Brees went down with an injury mid-season which led to the Saints turning to Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill during this time. Hill was the primary QB during this time. The Saints have battled with several injuries this season with Brees along with Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas who has been out for a significant chunk  of the year. With Brees and Thomas both set to play in the playoffs, the connection will look to thrive alongside star running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara has been a bright spot throughout the entirety of the season and has been a fantasy rockstar for many. 

Prediction: The Saints have proven they can win if Drew Brees goes down and whether that’s the case or not for this game, Brees will get the nod and the Saints are even stronger when he is under center. With Brees playing, Trubisky is at a completely different playing level than the future Hall of Famer. Brees will look to continue his HOF career by making another deep run in the playoffs.

Final Score: Saints defeat Bears with a score of 28-10.

#3 vs. #6 – Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams

The NFC West Rivals are set to face for the 3rd time this season in a series that was split 1-1. The Seattle Seahawks one the last of the 2 games finishing the season on a 4 game win streak. Seattle easily could have had more losses earlier in their season due to poor performances from their defense during the first half. Seattle allowed 23 points or more in their first 8 games of the season but only once in the second half. Seattle’s defense is finally coming together playing quality football, but in the second half, Seattle has had a tougher time on offense with DK Metcalf and Russell Wilson slowing down while Chris Carson was battling with injuries. The Seahawks will need to revitalize their offense if they are looking to make a run in this year’s playoffs.

The Los Angeles Rams have had a shaky season with getting beat to the winless New York Jets. The Rams finished the season with a 10-6 record which was good enough to make the playoffs in the weaker NFC, but 7 of their 10 wins came against teams who will not be playing this weekend and watching the games from home. The Rams have beaten Seattle and Tampa Bay earlier, but there were factors that helped them into winning that game. The Rams will need to neutralize the offensive threat with Seattle if Russell Wilson gets hot. 

Prediction: Russell Wilson is on a mission to prove haters wrong after the Super Bowl Interception from several seasons ago. Playoff Wilson is ready to take on the Rams and expect big games out of Metcalf or Lockett in this week’s matchup. The Seahawks will be too much for the Rams. 

Final Score: Seattle defeats Rams with a score of 37-28.

#4 vs. #5 – Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In an interesting matchup with veteran qbs, Alex Smith and Tom Brady set to face off against one another. Alex Smith has made an incredible recovery with doctors not only telling him he’ll never be able to play football again, but that he might not be able to walk again. Washington might have a losing record, but under Alex Smith they are a 5-1 team in the playoffs. Washington has turned their season around led by Alex Smith and terrific play from the defensive side with Chase Young emerging as a breakout rookie early on. Antonio Gibson has been another notable rookie for the Washington Football Team who has merged well with Smith along with QB-Proof Terry McLaurin who is still blowing past defenders. Washington should not be overlooked in this game and is ready to take on any opponent. 

In Tom Brady’s first season without playing for New England, he has led his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to the playoffs as the fifth seed in the NFC. Tampa Bay has been hot lately with a high-powered offense led by Brady with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, Rob Gronkowski and other solid players.To pair with the high-powered offense, Tampa Bay has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Tampa Bay is facing a young Washington Team looking to prove the doubters wrong which will make this matchup particularly interesting.

Prediction: Two of the hottest teams in football are going up against one another and only one can come out on top. That team is going to be the team led by one of the greatest to ever play the game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady wants to show Bill Belichek and the Patriots what they are missing. Brady and company will be looking for a Super Bowl ring together.

Final Score: Tampa Bay defeats Washington with a score of 28-16.

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