Ok so I’m a bit late and I’m pushing very close to game time. Better late than never though. This week sees some good matchups. Brady faces a tough, physical Titans team, we have a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle, the Bills and Texans face off with the return of Watt, and the depleted Eagles face off against the also depleted Seahawks. Lets get down to it and break down wildcard weekend.
BILLS (10-6) @ TEXANS (10-6)
I see this game being a tough contest between the Bills formidable defense and the Texans dynamic offense and the QB battle of Allen vs Watson. The Bills are a very stout defense with a ok at best offense. They play their best when they can get Allen good field position to move down the field, grind out the clock, and put up just enough points. They finished in the bottom half of the league in most offensive stats aside from rushing. Lucky for them Houston’s defense lower than 24th in most key defensive stats like total defense, pass yards allowed, and rush yards allowed. I think the key difference maker in this game is the absence of Will Fuller. Fuller takes pressure off of Deandre Hopkins and spreads out the defense as a huge deep threat. With him on the field they average over 25 points, but without him they average less than 20. The injury report lists him officially as out. I see Tredavious White making things difficult for Hopkins, and the Bills win a close, grind it out defensive contest.
PREDICTION: BILLS 23 TEXANS 17
TITANS (9-7) @ PATRIOTS (12-4)
This has been a hot upset pick for many experts. The key to beating the Patriots has proven to be to run with power and success. Well, it just so happens that the Titans have the top RB of the season and the strongest one at that. They have run the play action offense to pure perfection and will look to do the same against the Patriots. This team presents a bad matchup for the Pats and will hope to use their run game to overcome Brady and Belicheck on a stage where the Pats are really tough to beat. This Patriots defense this year has been top 3 and mostly number 1. They may have to battle with Baltimore, Buffalo, and San Fran for that honor, but they’ve been great nonetheless. They are the best in forcing key turnovers and making key plays when they need them. Theyve overshadowed the average at best offense of the Pats this season, but as we have seen in years past, defense on the big stage can lead to trophies. The Titans bring in a favorable matchup against New England and they have shown weakness this season, but until I see proof that they can be stifled in the playoffs, I won’t pick against a team that shines in January and is lead by the greatest coach and QB tandem ever.
PREDICTION: PATS 27 TITANS 21
VIKINGS (10-6) @ SAINTS (13-3)
We’re being graced with a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle and I love it. The Saints have been red hot lately and Brees is playing lights out. Plus he has Michael Thomas, who is easily the league’s best receiver this season. The Vikings are only 4-4 on the road and road contests dont get much more difficult than the Superdome. Plus Cousins doesn’t seem to play well in the spotlight games. However, Cook is back and healthy and will let the Vikings tap back into their strong play-action offense. If the Vikings will actually let Cousins use the run to branch out the passing game and throw down field to his strong WR duo, they can put up big points. When Cousins gets the ok to throw down field to Thielen and Diggs, this team thrives. Its in games where they abandon that play action game, where they struggle and look sloppy. Brees and company will surely put up over 30 points and for Cousins and this offense to keep up, they need to utilize the play action to open up their passing attack. I actually like the upset here as the Vikings get a big game from Cook and allow Cousins to use that to attack downfield. I’m taking the Vikings in the shootout in the Superdome.
PREDICTION: VIKINGS 38 SAINTS 34
SEAHAWKS (11-5) @ EAGLES (9-7)
This game would have no business being close, unless the Seahawks were injury riddled and the Eagles were playing at home….oh wait that’s exactly the story in this one. The Seahawks lost most of their backfield to injury and many others as well, having to call in the next man up mantra and call up Beast Mode to help. Despite being depleted, they made a very exciting game against the stout defense of San Francisco. The key will be to get good production from Homer and Lynch out of the backfield, and open up Metcalf to do his thing. Metcalf is a beast and a good run game can open up the pass enough to let Wilson work his magic and use Metcalf as his leading man. However, this Eagles defense is no joke and Wentz always seems to perform at home. The Eagles are a mixed bag that you never know what you’re going to get. They have come in and lost to bad teams like Miami and Detroit, but have also won big games like Green Bay and Buffalo. They have showed up in key games but have also been absent in key games. They can’t afford to fall asleep against a playoff show out like Wilson. This Seahawks team has a similar affinity for the playoff stage like Brady and the Pats. The Eagles need to get Miles Sanders off and running and hope Wentz can make magic with his no name receivers again and hope Goedert can fill some of the shoes of Ertz. I think playoff Russ will make more magic this week in a close game in Philly, sorry Philly hopefuls.
PREDICTION: SEAHAWKS 20 EAGLES 16
There you have it folks. Thats my picks and breakdowns and if this shakes out as I think it will this will lead to the Divisional matchups of Baltimore vs Buffalo, Kansas City vs New England, San Francisco vs Minnesota, and Green Bay vs Seattle. There’s some great, exciting matchups and storylines to be had with the potential for some awesome conference championship matchups. Can we see Brady vs Jackson? Or maybe an inter-divisional matchup of Buffalo vs New England? We could see another inter-divisional matchup of Minnesota vs Green Bay, or even another inter-divisional game of SF vs Seattle. Many exciting storylines and exciting potential. Please read my breakdown and predictions, let me know what you think and share with any other sports fans you know. And check in next week to see what breakdowns and storylines we can disect in the Divisional round. Thanks for reading and happy playoff season everyone!