NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions
After 17 weeks of exciting (or boring depending on which team you root for) NFL action the playoffs are finally here. This Saturday is the start of Wild Card weekend and we have four interesting games on the schedule. I’m looking forward to all four games, I think the matchups are good enough to provide exciting games.
In this post I’ll be picking winners for Wild Card weekend. Don’t take my picks too seriously, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I thought Dallas was going to win the NFC East! D’oh. Damn I suck at picking winners. I’ll throw in a Super Bowl prediction too so we all will have something to look back and laugh at after the big game.
Anyway here are my picks based on what I observed from being an NFL couch potato for the last 4 months.
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-2.5)
The weekend kicks off with the Buffalo Bills traveling to Texas to face the AFC South winner Houston Texans. The Bills won 10 games this season, their first double digit win total in 20 years, and are the surprise team to crash the playoff party. I see a lot of “experts” picking Buffalo to win, but honestly I just don’t see it.
I like the Bills. They play a brand of football I enjoy, running the rock and playing damn good defense. Sure they won ten games this season, but who did they beat? A lot of crappy teams. They beat one team, just one, that finished with a winning record. That was the 9-7 Tennessee Titans all the way back on October 6th, before Mariota was benched and Tannehill turned the team around.
The Bills played four other games against playoff teams (New England twice, Philadelphia, Baltimore) and lost all four, with three of those losses coming in Buffalo. Ouch.
The Texans also won 10 games this season with signature wins coming against the Patriots, Chiefs and Titans (when Tannehill was the QB and the Titans were good). They also have playoff experience, something Buffalo lacks. I don’t trust QBs making their first playoff start and I don’t really trust Bills QB Josh Allen in the first place.
Buffalo has the NFL’s second ranked defense, so they should keep the score close. Yet I think Texans QB Deshaun Watson will make enough plays for the Texans to win. The Bills haven’t won a playoff game since 1995 (holy shit I still had all my hair) and will probably just be happy to be there. The Texans were knocked out on Wild Card weekend last season and should be more determined to advance.
My pick: Texans 21 Bills 17
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-5)
Our second game on Saturday features the surging Tennessee Titans heading north to Foxborough to face off against the fading AFC East champs the New England Patriots. The Titans got off to a rough start in 2019, but turned things around when they made Ryan Tannehill their starting QB. Tannehill led the Titans to seven wins in his ten starts and finished the season as the highest rated QB in the NFL. The Patriots on the other hand raced out to a 10-1 record before dropping three of their last five games, including a Week 17 loss at home to the lowly Miami Dolphins.
The Titans not only have Tannehill on offense, they also have the NFL’s leading rusher in RB Derrick Henry and breakout WR A.J. Brown, who averaged more than 20 yards per reception. Meanwhile the Patriots offense is led by an aging QB Tom Brady, who had his worst season statistically in the last 15 years, and collection of scrubs who aren’t very good at gaining yards.
Dammit I want the Titans to win this game so bad, but I can’t pick them to win. What the Patriots lack on offense they make up for with their top ranked defense. And nobody in the NFL comes up with a better game plan for their defense than Bill Belichick. Ryan Tannehill spent six seasons with the Dolphins, he lost all six of his starts in New England. The Patriots are very aware of what he can and cannot do.
I think the Patriots will load the box to slow Henry down and force Tannehill to beat them through the air. The Patriots defense only gave up 13 passing TDs all season, fewest in the league, while picking off 25 passes, the most in the league.
The Patriots offense has looked like garbage lately, yet no QB has more playoff experience than Tom Brady. This will be the Patriots only home game of the playoffs and I feel Brady will reach way down deep to pull out a game winning performance. Plus I’m pretty sure Belichick made a deal with devil and who knows when it is set to expire.
My pick: Patriots 27 Titans 21
Please, oh please football gods, let this pick be wrong.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-7.5)
The first game on Sunday will see the Minnesota Vikings rolling into the Superdome to face the NFC South winners New Orleans Saints. Las Vegas doesn’t think much of the Vikings in this one, making the Saints more than a touchdown favorite. I can see why. Saints QB Drew Brees doesn’t lose playoff games in the dome. OK he lost the NFC Title game at home last year, but it took the worst non-call in NFL officiating history for that to happen. So as long as the referees don’t have a historically bad day, Drew Brees does not lose playoff games in the dome.
Much like the Bills, the Vikings won ten games this year but who did they beat? Their signature win came against the Cowboys for Christ’s sake. The Jets beat the Cowboys! They did beat one playoff team, the injury-ravaged Philadelphia Eagles. That is also not too impressive. They lost to the Seahawks, the Chiefs with Matt Moore starting at QB, the Packers twice and even the Bears twice. Minnesota won ten games because of a soft schedule.
Vikings RB Dalvin Cook says he is healthy for this game. If he is the Vikings can make it interesting. If he isn’t, the Saints will blow them out. QB Kirk Cousins has a long career history of coming up short in his team’s most important games.
I think top-to-bottom the Saints are the best team in the NFC. Especially at home. Drew Brees has played great since returning from his thumb injury and WR Michael Thomas just broke the NFL record for receptions in a season with 149. Damn. The Saints had several big wins this year against the Seahawks, Texans and Titans. Oh and for the record they beat the Cowboys too.
Don’t forget the revenge factor. The Vikings beat the Saints in Minnesota during the 2017 playoffs with a miracle last second TD. You know the Saints have to remember that loss very well. That Vikings team was much better than this one, I feel they will need more than one miracle to pull off an upset this time.
My pick: Saints 35 Vikings 27
That’s assuming Dalvin Cook is healthy. If not look for the Saints to win by at least two touchdowns.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
The Wild Card weekend finale features the Seattle Seahawks traveling to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the NFC East champion Philadelphia Eagles. How bad was the NFC East this year? The Eagles will play at home and are still an underdog. Woof.
Despite the overall awfulness of the NFC East, the Eagles do deserve credit for making the playoffs. This team has been absolutely torn apart by injuries on offense and defense. Hence why they are home dogs. The Eagles finished the season by winning four consecutive games, yet all four were against the terrible NFC East teams. The last game Philadelphia won against a team outside of their division was November 3rd against the Bears. That was two months ago.
The Eagles did pick up some signature wins against the Bills and the Packers earlier in the year when they were healthier. They also picked up a signature loss against the Dolphins after injuries piled up.
The Seahawks are also beat up, especially in the running game. Their top 3 RBs are all out. They will have to rely on fourth stringer Travis Homer and Marshawn Lynch, who was pulled out of retirement and saw his first game action in over a year last week.
The Seahawks finished with an 11-5 record, yet only outscored their opponents by seven points. They tend to win by the skin of their teeth and lose big. Their signature win was a big one in San Francisco and they beat the Eagles in Philly 17-9 back in November.
With injuries for both teams all over the field, I think this game will come down to the QBs. Philly QB Carson Wentz will be making his first playoff start. He spent the last two season on the bench injured watching Nick Foles leading the Eagles to wins. As I said I don’t trust QBs making their first playoff start.
Russell Wilson on the other hand has a world of playoff experience, including a Super Bowl victory to his credit. His running game is iffy, but his receivers are healthy and I believe he’ll make enough plays to win the game.
My pick: Seahawks 24 Eagles 20
So there are my winners for Wild Card weekend: Houston, New England, New Orleans and Seattle. I feel good about these picks but who knows. I felt good about my picks last year and went 2-2 on Wild Card weekend. I’m not going to draw out the rest of the playoff scenarios after this week, but I am going to make a Super Bowl prediction right now. Maybe I’ll look smart. Probably I’ll ending up looking like the dumbass Cowboys fan that I am.
My Super Bowl Prediction: New Orleans Saints 35 Kansas City Chiefs 31
I’ve been picking the Saints to win the Super Bowl for the last three years. Two years ago I was de-railed by a Minnesota Miracle. Last year I was thwarted by a referee suddenly going blind. Damn the torpedoes I’m picking them again. They’ll have to win two road games to get there (unless the Niners get upset in the Division round) and that is worrisome.
Yet I think the Packers are very beatable and the Niners are a team lacking in playoff experience. In my opinion the Saints are the top team out of the Big Three in the NFC. My biggest concern over their chances is a blizzard in Green Bay that evens out the playing field.
I’m sure the majority of people will pick the Ravens to come out of the AFC and understandably so. I think everyone will agree they are the best team in the NFL right now. But they are going to lose momentum. They rested all their key starters in Week 17 and have a bye this week. Three weeks in between games that matter will make them a little rusty.
I fully expect to see a KC/Baltimore AFC Title game. The Chiefs have defeated the Ravens twice in the last two seasons, although both games were in KC and this game would be played in Baltimore. Looking at the numbers I should pick the Ravens, but my gut is telling me it is the Chiefs year to go to the Super Bowl. And trust me it’s a big gut. Especially after all the Christmas cookies I have devoured in the last week.
One More Thing…
I just need to talk about one more thing that has nothing to do with the playoffs. Former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche died yesterday at the age of 74. This makes me sad. Wyche was a good coach who took the Bengals to a Super Bowl and introduced the no-huddle offense to the NFL. The Buffalo Bills “borrowed” his offensive approach and used it to reach four straight Super Bowls.
Now you would think a guy who managed to take the Bengals, I mean c’mon the Cincinnati Bengals!, to the Super Bowl and narrowly lose in the final seconds to the Niners dynasty would be best remembered for that herculean feat. Nope. It was impressive, but like many fans across the country I’ll remember Wyche fondly for one the greatest shit talking moments in NFL history.
In 1989, during a snowy day in Cincinnati, the Bengals faced off against the Seahawks. After the referees made what the home crowd thought was a terrible call (that’s right you youngsters, the NFL officials have been screwing up for a long time), the Bengals faithful began pelting the turf with snowballs. It got so bad Seattle’s head coach Chuck Knox took his team off the field and refused to let them continue the game until the situation was under control.
Both the referees and stadium security were unable to stop the snowball onslaught, so somebody figured out Sam Wyche was the only man who could bring the situation under control. He was given a microphone and delivered this legendary rant from the sideline:
Watch the video, it’s only 13 seconds long.
I loved it! Not only did Wyche diffuse the situation, he fired up the crowd by shitting all over the Bengals in-state rival. Did you hear the roar of that crowd? NFL rivalries run deep.
By all accounts Wyche was a good man off the field known for his charity work and after his pro coaching career ended he helped coached football at his local high school in South Carolina for many years as a volunteer. His health had been terrible, he needed a heart transplant several years ago and recently was dealing with cancer. Hopefully he’s now found peace and although I’m not a believer of the afterlife, I’d like to think the football gods would do the right thing and let him get that elusive Super Bowl win for Cincinnati in the NFL’s version of Valhalla. Or at least let him send more shit Art Modell’s way. Even Browns fans would be happy with that.
Let me know your Wild Card picks in the comments. Don’t be afraid to make a Super Bowl prediction either.