NFL Weekly Predictions: Wild Card

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Buffalo @ Houston (-3)

The Texans enter the playoffs as the AFC's No. 4 seed and host the Bills at NRG Stadium.

"One of the perks of winning the AFC South," Bill O'Brien said, "is a home wild card game. Another is the honor of playing in the 4:30 Saturday time slot on ABC. We're the team that nobody wants to see, if you're a football fan. The Bills are the team you don't want to see, if you're their opponent.

"With the AFC South already locked up, we were able to rest a lot of players. And speaking of being 'asleep on the job,' our front office must have been when they went on a trading frenzy early this season. We basically mortgaged our future to acquire Laremy Tunsil. We gave up two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and a couple of players. In our defense, we did get Kenny Stills and a fourth-round pick, plus a gas mask and a bong.

"There are two of Bill Belichick's former coordinators in the postseason, giving the wild card round a decidedly Patriots flavor. This year's New England offense has a distinct flavor, and it's 'vanilla.'"

With the AFC's No. 5 seed already locked up, the Bills rested most of their starters in a 13-6 home loss to the Jets.

"We certainly want to be physically ready," Sean McDermott said. "Of course, being mentally ready is equally as important. There's a lot to be said for having your head on straight. Just ask former Bill Richie Incognito, or his dead father.

"We plan to make some noise in the playoffs. One win won't satisfy us; we think we can win it all. Our Super Bowl history says I'm foolish to think that, as does the special 'Buffalo Bills hot dog' offered by the NRG Stadium concessions. One can only get this hot dog plain, and never, ever 'all the way.'"

The Bills defense is unquestionably formidable, but Deshaun Watson's ability to extend plays makes the difference, and the return of J.J. Watt pumps up the Texans defense.

Texans win, 21-17.

Tennessee @ New England (-4½)

The Titans walloped the Texans 35-14 to secure the final AFC wild card spot and now head to Foxboro to face the No. 3-seeded Patriots. Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, and A.J. Brown led the way for Tennessee.

"Those three have carried us all season," Mike Vrabel said. "Collectively, we call them the 'Tennessee Tri-tans.' They give us big-play capability. A 'big play' for the Patriots is actually 6 or 7 plans that together add up to a 40-yard gain.

"I spent eight seasons in New England as a player, so I know what it takes to win there. As a coach, I'm not sure I'm willing ethically to go to those lengths. When I watch video, I like the people I'm watching to know they were recorded. That applies to football video, as well."

The Dolphins upset the Patriots 27-24 in Foxboro, knocking the Patriots from the AFC's No. 2 seed to the No. 3 seed.

"We're devastated," Tom Brady said. "I mean, we were favored by 17 points. I guess a better description is to say we're 'shockingly upset.'

"We really needed that bye. Now, Bill Belichick is pretty unhappy with the way we played. And it shows. Just look at his expression. He's got 'non-resting bitch face.'

"We don't doubt the Titans are extremely talented, but we have something they don't, and that's the 'Patriot Mystique.' 'Patriot Mystique,' when applied correctly, gives us a huge home-field advantage, and often leads to game-changing, controversial officiating calls. And, in some cases, the 'Patriot Mystique' can squelch, or render useless in court, video evidence, whether recorded at a game or at a Florida jerk shack."

"Patriot Mystique" also guarantees the Patriots won't lose two games in a row to former or current Dolphins quarterbacks.

Patriots win, 24-21.

Minnesota @ New Orleans (-7½)

The Saints prepped for the playoffs with a 42-10 blowout of the Panthers in Charlotte. Drew Brees passed for 3 touchdowns, and Alvin Kamara rushed for 2 scores.

"We have an offense that can put points on the board against anybody," Sean Payton said. "And a defense that often makes it necessary for our offense to do that.

"We worked out Antonio Brown last week. Of all things, he accused us of making it a 'publicity stunt.' A.B. must have said this from the comfort of his glass house while throwing stones, which is obviously his second-favorite hobby, his first being authoring grammatically-challenged, cryptic, nonsensical Twitter posts.

"I'm extremely confident in our offense. But that doesn't mean we're not worried about the Vikings unit our offense will be facing. I've got nothing but high praise for Mike Zimmer's 'D.' And nothing but low praise for my choice of words."

With several starters resting, the Vikings lost 21-19 to the visiting Bears. Minnesota now heads to New Orleans in a rematch of the 2017 divisional round game won by the Vikings with the "Minneapolis Miracle."

"Many Vikings fans believe divine intervention was responsible for that," Mike Zimmer. "That's just plain bull. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that God only 'looks down' on people who actually believe He gives a damn about pro football. And everybody knows that God only cares about one football player, and that's Tim Tebow.

"This is a big test for Kirk Cousins. He is so ready. Kirk's really excited ... that this game isn't taking place on Monday night. Monday night is Kirk's 'Kryptonite.' In other words, he doesn't like that. No one calls Kirk 'Superman,' except his agent."

New Orleans attacks the Vikings defense with the short-range passing game with Kamara, while the Vikes, oddly, fail to utilize Dalvin Cook similarly. The Saints defense forces 2 fumbles, and the replay officials get a late interference call challenge correct, which continues a Saints drive.

Saints win, 27-17.

Seattle @ Philadelphia (+1½)

The Eagles sealed the NFC East title with a 34-17 win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. Boston Scott ran for 3 touchdowns to power Philly.

"With apologies to the thousands of Patriots fans who call themselves 'Boston Scott,'" Doug Pederson said, "our 'Boston Scott' is the real Boston Scott. And he's not a douchebag.

"And speaking of 'douchebags,' winning the division takes most of the stink off of a mediocre 9-7 record. But knowing the Cowboys had the same record puts that stink right back on.

"We're NFC East champions with a 9-7 record. Is that fair to the 11-5 Seahawks. Of course not. In our case, being awarded a home game at Lincoln Financial Field against a team with a better record is called a 'Weak Linc.'"

The Seahawks came just inches short of capturing the NFC West crown in a 26-21 loss to the 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Instead, Seattle travels to Philadelphia as a wild card team for a rematch of a 17-9 Week 12 win over the Eagles.

"Football is a game of inches," Pete Carroll said. "That is until you take an incredibly foolish delay of game penalty. Then football becomes a game of inches plus 5 yards.

"We know this Eagles team is vastly differently than the one we beat earlier in the season. They seem to have recaptured the type of magic that brought them a Super Bowl two seasons ago. They've got 'lightning in a bottle,' while those crazy fans at Lincoln Financial Field have 'lightning in flasks.' Together, it's a lethal combination."

Boyz II Men, accompanied by DJ Jazzy Jeff, open the Philly-heavy pre-game festivities with the unofficial city anthem, "Do Wawa Diddy Diddy." Then, captains for both teams meet at midfield, where Kevin Hart is flipped in the air to determine the coin toss winner.

Eagles win, 27-24.

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