NFL Wildcard Round Predictions

It’s finally here! After seventeen exciting weeks of football, the NFL playoffs will start this Saturday. The quest for the Super Bowl starts here, on wildcard weekend. Fans are in for a treat; all four of these games could come down to the wire. After a 15-1 week last week, it would be a surprise if I missed on every game this weekend. That’s how close and tough to pick these games are. Without further adieu, let’s predict the wildcard round!

Colts (10-6) at Texans (11-5)

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Photo Cred: stampedeblue.com

To start off the playoffs, the Colts and Texans will face off in Houston in a divisional matchup between two teams who weren’t expected to be in the playoffs. The Colts are in the playoffs after starting 1-5, while the Texans are in the playoffs after starting 0-3. Indianapolis was victorious when these two teams matched up in Week 14, and a similar result should be expected in this game. The Colts have been a completely different team recently, and a lot of credit has to go to Andrew Luck. Luck leads the league’s 6th ranked passing offense, and he’s played like an MVP candidate in the latter half of the season. Meanwhile, the Texans secondary has struggled this season, and ranks just 28th defending the pass. Furthermore, Houston’s success defensively hinges on their success to pressure the quarterback, but the Colts allow the fewest sacks in football. On the other side of the ball, the Colts have been the best defense since Week 7 statistically and their energetic front seven should cause problems against a Texans offensive line that has allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Houston should keep things close due to them being at home and their star power, but the Colts are the hotter team and the more balanced team, and they’ll come away with a huge road playoff win against a divisional rival. Prediction: Colts 24 Texans 20

Seahawks (10-6) at Cowboys (10-6)

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Photo Cred: Sporting News

In what be the toughest game to predict of these four games, the Seahawks will travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. When these two teams played against each other in Week 3, the Seahawks won 24-13. However, at the time Dallas didn’t have Amari Cooper, while Seattle still had Earl Thomas. Plus, that game was in Seattle, and this game is in Dallas. That’s a huge difference; the Cowboys are 6-2 at home and a completely different team, while the Seahawks are just 4-4 on the road. This game also may come down to which premier rushing offense can have more success, and Dallas has a better chance taking advantage of a mediocre Seattle defensive front than the Seahawks against the Cowboys’ stellar front seven. At home, the Cowboys will play with a certain energy that is tough to beat. Expect Dallas’ young defense to rally together and hold Seattle just enough so Ezekiel Elliot can do the rest of the damage running the football. I don’t feel great about this pick, as it’s never a good idea to pick against Russell Wilson in a primetime game, but I think the Cowboys are the more talented team and will come away with a close victory. Prediction: Seahawks 20 Cowboys 21

Chargers (12-4) at Ravens (10-6)

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Photo Cred: baltimoresun.com

If it wasn’t for the Chargers losing to the Ravens in Week 16, they would’ve been the number one seed. Instead, they have to go on the road as the #5 seed to face these same Ravens in Baltimore. Maybe they’re motivated to beat Baltimore this time around, but it’s likely that they’ll fall short again. The first time these two teams faced off, Baltimore held the Chargers offense in check, as Phillip Rivers had a QBR of 30.2. Now with home field advantage in this game, the same can be expected to happen. In fact, the Chargers offense has struggled the past two weeks, while the Ravens defense may be the league’s best. Baltimore was able to be the more physical team when these two teams faced off, and that’s not something that should be expected to change. Plus, Los Angeles is good, but not great up front, and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens rushing attack ran for 160 yards against them in the first matchup. They may be able to “figure them out” this time around, but the reality is that the Ravens rush offense is so potent that they are simply unstoppable at this point. The Chargers proved in Week 16 that they cannot play the Ravens’ game, which is being physical and controlling the clock. They are also a notoriously bad first quarter team, and they don’t stand a chance if they fall behind early in a tough environment to play in against a dominant defense. That’s exactly what will happen, and the Chargers will fail to play catchup against the Ravens for the second time this year. This time, it’ll knock them out of the playoffs. Prediction: Chargers 20 Ravens 23

Eagles (9-7) at Bears (12-4)

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Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Can Nick Foles guide the Eagles to back to back Super Bowl championships. That’s what he’ll try to do after leading Philadelphia to a three game winning streak to make the playoffs. It all starts with an extremely tough test; the Eagles will play late on Sunday in Chicago to face the 12-4 Bears. While it would surprise no one to see Foles pull of an upset, these Bears will be too much for him to overcome. Chicago allowed the fewest points per game this season, ranked third in sacks, and had the league’s best rush defense. This year, they’ve held the Rams to six points and held the Vikings to 13 points or under in two matchups. This is a disaster in the making for the Eagles offense. Their 28th ranked rushing attack will be no match for the Bear’s top rush defense, so that’ll force them to rely on Foles and to become one-dimensional. When that happens, Chicago’s pass rush will dominate, and Philadelphia’s offense will be trapped. While the Bears offense has struggled at times, they still have enough playmakers to take care of the league’s third worst pass defense. The Bears had a plus-85 point differential this season, with their only loss coming to Tom Brady and the Patriots. In primetime at home, they were 3-0 with wins against playoffs teams in the Rams and Seahawks. That dominance will continue here, as the Bears will rally behind the home crowd to win this game on their way to Los Angeles for the divisional round. Prediction: Eagles 20 Bears 29

 

 

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