NFL Weekly Predictions: Wild Card Round

Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.

Cleveland @ Houston (+2)

The Texans clinched a playoff berth with a 23-19 win over the Colts in Indianapolis on Saturday night. They continued the celebration on Sunday when the Jaguars lost to the Titans, giving the AFC South title to the Texans.

"We were hoping the Jaguars would choke," DeMeco Ryans said. "And they did. In medical terms, they choked because they apparently don't have a 'Jag reflex.' And speaking of something being shoved down a throat, that would be my advocacy for C.J. Stroud to win the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

"This organization has come a long way since the days of racist owner Bob McNair. It's too bad Bob isn't here to see a black head coach and black quarterback lead the Texans to the playoffs. As it is, it would probably make him roll over in his grave. That way, he'd be face down, and couldn't see any of it, which is how he'd want it. May he rot, face down, in Hell."

With the No. 5 seed already sewn up, the Browns rested most of their starters and lost 31-14 to the Bengals in Cincinnati.

"When you have a 38-year-old quarterback carrying your team," Kevin Stefanski said, "it's vitally important to be rested. And Joe Flacco is taking full advantage of that. Let's face it, you can't have 'Flacco Time' without 'Nap Time.'

"Joe's not only brought his 'A-game,' he's brought his 'AARP-game.' Joe's not only raised his game, he's considerably raised the average age of this team. But this team is much more than just Flacco. Our defense may be the best in the league. Our running game is solid. Tight end David Njoku has been on fire as of late, thankfully not literally. And Amari Cooper is not only embarrassing defenses, but the Raiders and Cowboys, as well."

Browns win, 27-23.

Miami @ Kansas City (-3½)

The Dolphins went scoreless in the second half, watching helplessly as the Bills put up 14 points in the final quarter to win 21-14 and wrest the AFC East crown from Miami. Now, Miami heads to frigid Kansas City to face the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs.

"The Dolphins have historically struggled in cold weather games," Mike McDaniel said. "I think they call that 'win chill.'

"Tyreek Hill is returning to Kansas City, where he was Patrick Mahomes' deep threat for many years. He was an important piece of that offense. Not only could Tyreek run the deep routes, he could actually catch the ball when Mahomes threw it to him. When's the last time you saw Mahomes throw a deep pass? To say he 'longs' for a deep threat like Tyreek is an understatement.

"Hot or cold weather, Tyreek is still blazing fast. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds, which is about the same time it took Arthur Blank to fire Arthur Smith after the Falcons last game."

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 13-12 at SoFi Stadium. Kansas City was locked into the AFC's No. 3 seed and rested several of their starters.

"It wasn't pretty," Andy Reid said, "but a win is a win. Considering how we've played lately, beating the Chargers 13-12 with our starters would have been acceptable.

"We've got a chance to win our third Super Bowl in the last five years. Or, we can make people forget that we won two of the last four by continuing to play like we have. The only thing about us that resembles last year's unit is our uniforms.

"The temperature at game time is forecast to be in the single digits. With the wind, the temperature could drop below freezing. The warm-weather Dolphins may not like it, but that makes my nipples hard. Of course, with it being that cold, the footballs are going to feel like stones, which matches our receivers hands."

This is an intriguing matchup between two teams that have struggled to beat good teams all season. Are these even good teams? Yes, they are good teams, as in good enough to win one playoff game, and that's it.

Hill reminds everyone that he can flourish in the cold with an early touchdown catch, but the Chiefs rush attack and short passing attack takes over. Travis Kelce has 11 catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Chiefs win, 19-13.

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo (-9½)

The Steelers beat the Ravens 17-10 on Saturday night, and clinched a playoff spot on Sunday afternoon when the Jaguars lost 28-20 to the Titans.

"Hey," Mike Tomlin said, "I'm all for backdoor entry. I prefer the front door, but mediocre 10-7 teams can't be choosers.

"Mason Rudolph has started our last three games and is undefeated. That is a sentence I never thought I would say, much less believe. But he's turned this team's fortunes around. Now, I have a big offseason decision to make: will Kenny Pickett or Rudolph be the starting quarterback in 2024? It's a question that will keep me up at night, and possibly out of coaching altogether."

The Bills snatched the AFC East title with a 21-14 win over the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday night. Josh Allen overcame 3 turnovers with a strong fourth quarter, and the game-winning touchdown pass to Dawson Knox midway through the fourth quarter.

"With Josh," Sean McDermott said, "it's all about 'give and take,' meaning 'I don't give a damn about his turnovers because I'm never going to take him out of the game.'

"Now, we know the Steelers want to force us into their style of play, which is slow, boring, and methodical, or like Najee Harris. We can play that style if we so choose, and we might have to, because it's going to be very windy during the game. And Josh certainly doesn't need another variable making his passes go haywire when his arm is variable enough. Josh is our best player, so we're going to put the ball in his hands. Let's just hope he can keep it there."

Allen rushes for 65 crucial yards and scores 2 TDs on the ground, and the Bills hang on to win, 23-19.

Green Bay @ Dallas (-7)

The Cowboys smashed the Commanders 38-10 at FedEx Field and secured the NFC's No. 2 seed and a date with the Packers. Dak Prescott lit up the Washington defense with 4 TD passes, 2 to CeeDee Lamb.

"It's important that we played well heading into the playoffs," Mike McCarthy said. "We need that positive momentum to achieve our goal. We're America's Team — we expect nothing less than a Super Bowl win. Our fans, on the other hand, expect nothing, or anything less than a Super Bowl.

"We have the talent to go all the way. And the coaching not to. So I've got a lot to prove. If we don't win the Super Bowl, I may not even be back as head coach next season. Jerry Jones has refused to comment on my future beyond the playoffs. That's alarming, because I don't think Jerry's ever refused to comment on anything."

The Packers won their way into the playoffs with a hard-fought 17-9 win over the Bears at Soldier Field. Jordan Love passed for 316 yards and 2 touchdowns and led the Packers to the playoffs in his first year as starter.

"Jordan Love has done something Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers never did," Matt LeFleur said, "and that's be a decent human being. But to achieve greatness, Jordan needs to be more like Favre and Rodgers. To do that, he could either win a Super Bowl, or steal from the poor and make a public accusation of pedophilia on national television.

"I think we match up well with the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. And I feel like I match up well with Mike McCarthy. While I'm playing chess, Mike's eating at Checkers."

The Packers and Cowboys both have long histories of playoff dominance ... that ended decades ago, if not half-centuries ago. That tradition, and McCarthy's coaching tenure in Green Bay that resulted in the Super Bowl XLV win, make this one of the weekend's most interesting matchups.

Lafleur's bold game plan keeps the Packers close in the first half, but the Dallas defense surges in the second half with 2 turnovers, and the Cowboys pull away for a 30-20 win.

Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit (-4½)

The Lions beat the visiting Vikings 30-20, led by Jared Goff's 2 TD passes, and Amon-Ra St. Brown's seven receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown. The win was costly, as rookie tight end Sam LaPorta suffered a knee injury and is out for the playoffs.

"Injuries are a part of the game," Dan Campbell said, "just like horrible officiating mistakes that have monumental impacts on playoff seeding.

"Hopefully, this game won't be decided by the officials. And I don't think the NFL wants to admit that officials are a problem. You could say that the 'zebras' are the 'elephant in the room.'"

The Rams beat the 49ers 21-20 at Levi's Stadium in a mostly meaningless game. With the NFC's sixth seed already wrapped up and nothing to play for, Los Angeles rested most of its starters, and will travel to Detroit for the wild card round.

"Wow," Sean McVay said. "Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff face off against their former teams in the playoffs. It's the juiciest of plot lines, and I created it.

"I've already done something that Dan Campbell has yet to do. No, not win a Super Bowl, but recognize that Jared Goff can't win you a Super Bowl. Obviously, I prefer my quarterbacks like my mansions — white and immobile."

Rams win, 32-30.

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay (+3)

The Buccaneers clinched the NFC South with a 9-0 win over the Panthers in Charlotte, aided by a defense that held Carolina to 199 yards and only 11 first downs.

"I think we're really excited for this moment," Todd Bowles said. "Nothing says you're ready for the playoffs like a win over the worst team in the NFL in which you can't even score a touchdown. Of course, the Eagles aren't the Panthers. Heck, they may be worse.

"Baker Mayfield has battled through injuries all year. And much like his lack of talent, he's overcome those, as well. And he just got paid $1 million because we won our division. That's a lot of money, but only 1/32 of what the Browns wasted on him."

The Eagles enter the playoffs as the No. 5 seed, but are reeling after losing five of their last six games. Their latest defeat was a one-sided 27-10 loss to the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

"We're clicking on all cylinders," Nick Sirianni said. "Unfortunately, all of our cylinders are broken. We just have to regroup. Or should I say continue to regroup, because we've been regrouping for about two months now.

"Of course, we're looking for a dramatic turnaround, also known as a 'complete 180.' Lately, our offense has mastered the 'complete 180,' by running onto the field, then, after three or so plays, doing a 'complete 180' and running off the field.

"Right now, we lack confidence. And a team without confidence is like a cheesesteak without cheese and steak. So, it's totally up to me to get my team motivated by any means necessary, other than the way Sean McDermott might do it."

Sirianni sets the tone early, by calling six consecutive "Tush Pushes" on Philly's first possession. The plays fire up the Eagles, and gain 57 yards against the Buccaneers weak defense. And speaking of weak defenses, the Eagles remedy their issues somewhat by blitzing Mayfield unmercifully, forcing 2 turnovers.

Eagles win, 24-20.

Leave a Comment

Featured Site