NFL Wild Card Predictions + Best Bets!
And just like that, the playoffs are here. It feels like yesterday I was calling the Texans +10 vs the Chiefs a lock just for them to get throttled. Anyways, it’s been a pretty eventful year in the NFL and the playoffs should be as great as always. Here are my predictions for all the games as well as my best bet.
Colts @ Bills
The first game of the postseason should be an exciting one as Josh Allen and the Bills red- hot offense takes on a young Colts squad led old man Phillip Rivers. It seems the Colts finally realized Jonothan Taylor is a beast and they need to run the offense through him in order to have any success this postseason. The Colts are unbeaten in games where Taylor has gotten more than 20 carries and in those games they average 33.5 points. Safe to say they need to feed him if they want to win. Their young defense has balled out and will be up against one of their toughest tasks facing MVP candidate Josh Allen. If they can force a few turnovers it would not surprise me to see the Colts ending the game victorious. However, Josh Allen is one of the best at keeping the ball safe as in his entire career he has never thrown a pick in the red zone. All his weapons are healthy and eager to win a playoff game after what happened last year. This one will be close but in the end I see the Bills coming out on top.
Final Score: Indianapolis 27- Buffalo 31
Favorite bet: Over 51
Rams @ Seahawks
This is my favorite matchup for this weekend and I cannot wait to watch it. The Rams have been carried by their defense all season as Jared Goff has been wildly inconsistent and by the looks of it will not even play in Saturday’s game, which in my opinion will not hurt them too much as Josh Wolford proved to be a solid player in the Rams win over the Cardinals last Sunday throwing for 238 yards and rushing for another 56. The Seahawks have been lackluster on both sides of the ball so it is very hard to trust them in this spot especially going up against a defense like the Rams. In both games versus the Rams this season, Russell has failed to eclipse 250 pass yards, I see this Saturday being the third time. If the Seahawks are going to win this game they are going to need to establish the run early to open up the pass and hit some deep passes as they will not be able to drive the ball consistently on this Rams defense. As for the Rams, as long as they don’t turn the ball over and gift Russell great field position I think they win this one comfortably as it is too hard to trust the Seahawks who have shown inconsistencies on both sides of the ball as of late.
Final Score: Los Angeles 20- Seattle 13
Favorite bet: Rams +4
Buccaneers @ Football Team
You can’t not love the story of the Football Team, Alex Smith’s improbable return to football and Ron Rivera beating cancer are two of the best storylines of this season. However the 7-9 NFC East Champs must get past the GOAT and the Bucs high powered offense to keep their fairytale season alive. Sadly, they won’t. The Buccaneers run defense is the best in the league meaning Washington will have to rely on the pass to win this game. Sure, they have some solid weapons in Terry Mclaurin and Logan Thomas and can string together some solid drives but statistically they are one of the worst passing teams in the league and unless Alex Smith can pull a miracle it is tough to see them score more than 20 points in this one. As for the Bucs, their O line has improved a lot since week one but they still have a huge liability in left tackle Donovan Smith, I expect the Football Team to try and get their best guys on Smith and cause trouble for Brady as they will have to get sacks and maybe a strip sack or two in order to win this one. I think Washington’s defense is good enough to keep this one close but Playoff Brady isn’t gonna lose to a 7-9 squad.
Final Score: Tampa Bay 23- Washington 14
Favorite bet: 1H under 22.5
Ravens @ Titans
Actually, scratch what I said about the Rams Seahawks being my favorite game, this one is. The Ravens have won 4 games in a row and suddenly look like a super bowl team after starting the year 7-5 and on the outside looking in for quite some time. The defense has stepped up and on offense they got back to being dominant on the ground as JK Dobbins has emerged as a great RB1 and Lamar has been electric as always. In the first matchup between these two teams, things got a little chippy as coach John Harbaugh almost tried fighting some Titans players. The Titans went on to win 30-24 in OT and are looking to beat the Ravens back to back years in the playoffs and serve Lamar an 0-3 playoff record. The Titans have been extremely fun to watch as Ryan Tannehill has solidified himself as an elite QB and Derrick Henry is still running through opposing defenses. The Titans defense has simply just been weak. They let the Texans score on them with ease and the Packers did the same the week before. Lamar and the Ravens will be inspired to silence the haters saying he can't win a playoff game and eager to prove it against a team that has beaten them in their last two meetings. In the end I believe the Ravens offense will outpace the Titans and will pull away in the second half similar to how the Packers did. Lamar wins his first playoff game but they go onto lose to the Chiefs next week.
Final Score: Baltimore 41- Tennessee 24
Favorite bet: Ravens -4
Bears @ Saints
I trashed the Saints a lot this year, especially Drew Brees and his noodle arm, but I have to admit, I was very impressed with them down the stretch and Alvin Kamara proved to be the most matchup proof player in the league as every defense knew he was their only weapon, yet he kept putting up crazy numbers. They go up against one of the best defenses in the league in the Chicago Bears who will by the looks of it be missing two starting corners in Jaylon Johnson and Buster Skrine and maybe linebacker Roquan Smith as well. I’m not worried about the corners as like I said, Brees has a noodle arm it’s not like they’ll be thrown at much anyways, but Roquan Smith would be a huge loss as he is extremely fast for a linebacker and could be the key to stopping Alvin Kamara. As for the Bears offense, to put it simply, they won’t score much. Their offensive line is absolutely garbage and I expect the Saints front seven and especially Cameron Jordan to eat them alive. Mitch will have no time to throw and as he does, will turn the ball over and give the Saints golden field position. The Bears defense will do enough to make the score look close but the Saints will dominate and will lead the whole way.
Final Score: Chicago 13- New Orleans 24
Favorite bet: Under 47
Browns @ Steelers
In the Sunday Night game we will see the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Cleveland Browns. It’s very weird seeing the Browns in this spot as growing up they have always been terrible, but this is a big moment for the city of Cleveland and their fans so I expect the Browns to be pretty inspired heading into this one. Sadly, they will be missing Coach Kevin Stefanski and will be going up against a team that knows the playoffs like the back of their hand. Led by a stifling defense, Mike Tomlin’s Steelers started the season 11-0 but finished the season weak and ended up going 12-4. However, like I said this team knows what it's like to be in the playoffs and I expect that experience to lift them over a young Browns squad without their coach. Despite not having Stefanski, this team has potential to do some damage. Led by one of the best running back tandems in the league, if they can establish the run early on this elite Steelers defense, we could be in for quite the show. I don’t think they will though. Steelers pull away late and show the world that they are not the team we saw toward the back end of the season.
Final Score: Cleveland 14- Pittsburgh 24
Favorite Bet: Under 47
Divisional Round Matchups
3 Steelers @ 2 Bills
6 Ravens @ 1 Chiefs
6 Rams @ 1 Packers
5 Buccaneers @ 2 Saints