NFL Weekly Predictions: Wild Card

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Tennessee @ Kansas City (-7½)

The Chiefs rested several starters in their Week 17 27-24 win over the Broncos. Kansas City finished the season 10-6, and host the No. 5-seeded Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.

"Patrick Mahomes got the start while Alex Smith got the day off," Andy Reid said. "And Patrick showed flashes of the athleticism that led us to draft him. I think you can see why many believe Mahomes is the future. Next year, when he's starting here, you could very well hear him say 'I am 'Mahomes,' and this is 'Mahouse.'

"If we win, it's possible we could have a rematch of our Week 1 blowout win at New England. In that game, we took it to New England. But as the Patriots would say, 'That was then, this is Now England.' Their defense is exponentially better than it was back in September. History tells us that the Patriots in September are a vastly different team the the Patriots in January. I see a decent team in September, but I spy a great team in January.

"But enough about what could happen; let's talk about what did happen. Jon Gruden was just named as head coach of the Raiders. I think Oakland owner Mark Davis was thinking 'Super Bowl' when he decided to pursue Gruden, which is also what he must be thinking before every haircut. Davis may be the only person in football who gets a haircut, then goes into the pop-up blue tent to have his head examined."

The Titans beat the Jaguars, 15-10, and solidified their playoff berth, earning the fifth seed and a road game at Kansas City.

"That's right," Mike Mularkey said. "We earned ourselves a date with the Chiefs at Arrowhead. As most people know, on a 'date' at Arrowhead, it's all about 'foreplay,' because tailgating before the game is huge.

"I may be the only coach in NFL history to make the playoffs and still be reportedly on the hot seat. If I, in fact, do get fired, it could very well be the most infamous 'Mike drop' in league history.

"We've got to have an error-free game from Marcus Mariota. So ball security is imperative. We've worked all week to make Marcus aware of that, mostly with the help of two special consultants, former Raiders great Lester Hayes, and Super Glue."

Kareem Hunts rushes for 91 yards and a score, and Marcus Peters returns an interception for a touchdown, and celebrates by pulling a yellow flag from his waistband and penalizes himself for using a prop during a celebration, which draws a real flag from the officials.

Chiefs win, 24-19.

Atlanta @ Los Angeles Rams (-5½)

The Falcons earned the NFC's final playoff spot with a decisive 22-10 win over the visiting Panthers. The Atlanta defense intercepted Cam Newton 3 times, and Matt Bryant kicked 5 field goals.

"Newton is not known for his accuracy," Dan Quinn said. "He only completed 14-of-34 passes. I don't know what's less likely to be hit with a Newton pass — his receivers, or the broad side of a barn.

"Our goal is no different from last season — to win the Super Bowl. As the No. 6 seed, we'll just have to work a little harder to get there. We think our playoff experience will serve us well against a young Rams team. As the saying goes, we've 'been there, and done that.' This team has made the playoffs in six of the last 10 years. So, yeah, we've 'been there.' Blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl? Yeah, we've 'done that.'"

The Rams tuned up for their wild card round game by sitting most of their starters in their 34-13 loss to the 49ers.

"That's right," Sean McVay said. "We gave some starters the day off. And the 'rest' is history.

"I'm only 31-years-old. By head coaching standards, I'm just a child. My predecessor, Jeff Fisher, is 59; by head coaching record standards, he's 'L-derly.'

"Our game plan is to give Todd Gurley II the ball. To be more specific, our game plan is to give him the game ball. Todd is our best rusher and our best receiver. He is 'II to none.'

Gurley is received by the raucous home crowd to chants of "MVP! MVP!" The response in Foxboro are chants of "MVP II! MVP II!"

Rams win, 27-23.

Buffalo @ Jacksonville (-7½)

The Bills earned the AFC's final playoff spot with a 22-16 win over Miami, with a little help from Cincinnati, who knocked the Ravens out of the spot with a 31-27 win.

"We owe the Bengals a debt of gratitude," Tyrod Taylor. "As far as we're concerned, Marvin Lewis just won a playoff game. Bills fans showed their appreciation by donating to Andy Dalton's charity. I commend those Bills fans, because they're certainly not used to donating to a 'good cause,' especially when they buy tickets to Bills games, because they're not often 'good.'

"We ended a 17-year playoff drought. The Bills last playoff game was at Tennessee in January 2000. That game was famous for the 'Music City Miracle.' That's noteworthy.' Most Bills fans I talk to say the only thing 'musical' about it was that it sounded like 'BS.'

"It's imperative we stop Leonard Fournette and force Blake Bortles to beat us by throwing the ball. Of course, if we do that and the Jags beat us anyway, then it will be a repeat of that playoff game in Tennessee, because we will have been vanquished by the 'forward pass.'"

The AFC South champion Jaguars head to the postseason having lost their last two, including a 15-10 decision to the Titans in Week 17. Blake Bortles threw 2 interceptions, and the Jags' rushing attack struggled, with only 83 yards.

"We'll definitely need Blake to play better," Doug Marrone said. "I don't care what some people say — Blake is not trash. In fact, his sanitation rating is way higher than his quarterback rating.

"I was head coach of the Bills for two years, and I chose to leave after the 2014 season. There was an ownership change coming and I saw the writing on the wall. I was replaced by Rex Ryan. After a couple of unsuccessful years, Bills management turned on Ryan. And that was surprising, because, as we all know, it's not often Ryan is 'turned on' by anything other than a woman's feet."

With all signs pointing to a heavy workload for Fournette, Marrone flips the script and allows Bortles to throw early, with high percentage throws on roll outs, short slants, and a few designed runs. On defense, the Jags keep Taylor in the pocket, while Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and their backfield cohorts puts the clamps on the passing lanes.

Jacksonville wins, 27-14.

Carolina @ New Orleans (-4½)

Despite a 31-24 loss to the Buccaneers, the Saints clinched the NFC South when the Panthers lost to the Falcons. Alvin Kamara had 283 all-purpose yards in the loss.

"Not only is Alvin a lock to make the All-Rookie team," Sean Payton said, "he's also guaranteed to make the 'All-Purpose' team. And if anyone knows what it means to be 'on Purpose,' it's me. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you can find out by watching 'Sean Payton TV,' the station that broadcasts nothing but 'bounty program-ming.'

"I consider the NFC South the NFL's toughest division. And Cam Newton is probably the toughest quarterback to game plan for. In this division, nothing scares me more than Newton, except for maybe the contents of DeSean Jackson's car."

The Panthers are the NFC's No. 5 seed and face the Saints for the third time this season. New Orleans swept the regular season by a combined score of 65-34.

"Maybe the third time will be the charm," Newton said. "If not, then our results this year against the Saints will be a big 'Triple Zero.' I used to get paid to say those two words. Not anymore. Ironically, I lost a job as a spokesperson by opening my big mouth.

"We'll need a special effort from our defense to beat New Orleans. I'm not sure you can stop both the New Orleans running and passing attacks. So, as they say, you have to pick your poison. That's hard to do, because for me, it's hard to pick a poison. Maybe I'll let Payton decide. I've got a pretty good idea his poison is rat poison. And Payton hates rats, especially ones that talk, and extra-especially ones that talk to the NFL."

Saints win, 27-20.

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