Wild Card Weekend Preview: Predicting the outcome of each game

Siddharth Chandra

Wild Card Weekend is finally here. After a NFL season full of uncertainty we finally arrived to the postseason. If you haven’t already heard this year the playoff format is different. Instead of having 6 teams in each conference making it to the postseason there are 7 teams from each conference. Also instead of the 1 and 2 seeds getting a 1st round bye only the 1 seed will get the bye making it more valuable this year. Here you will see a preview and a prediction for each game.

#7 Colts at #2 Bills: Saturday, January 9th 1:00 P.M. EST (CBS, CBS All Access)

Colts 24 – Bills 38

These are two solid teams. Both teams are entering the playoffs hot, with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs looking better than ever and the Colts running game looking lethal. Diggs ended the year as the leader in receiving yards with 1,535 yards. Jonathan Taylor ended the season with a monster game of 253 yards and 2 TDs. The Colts have  a strong defense in the run game, but not so much in the passing game. Unfortunately for them the Bills are one of the top teams in passing offense and do not rely so much on the run game. Essentially leading to my conclusion that Bills will win this game a sustainable margin. I don’t think the Colts are going to have answer for the Bills passing game. I do however think they will keep it close in the beginning but the Colts won’t be able to keep up with the Bills later in the game.

#6 Rams at #3 Seahawks, January 9th 4:40 P.M. EST (FOX, FOX Deportes)

Rams 9 – Seahawks 17

This is going to be a messy, and defensive game. Both times these teams met at least one of these teams have played pretty poorly. However throughout the season both teams have had bright spots on both sides of the ball. D.K Metcalf and Tyler Lockett having been tearing up defenses all season. With both receiver going above 1,000 yards and Lockett had a 100 receptions on the year. Ramsey has been a lockdown corner all year, and Donald has been a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the line. The Rams have the #1 ranked defense in passing and the #3 ranked defense in the run game. Seattle is going to struggle to get anything going on boths sides of the ball but Russ will find some ways to score. As for the Rams I feel as if Jared Goff wasn’t going to be able to accomplish much with his hurt thumb and Seattle is going to be able to contain the run of the rams. They will only be able put up 3 field goals, ultimately failing to win this game.

#5 Buccaneers at #4 Washington Football Team, January 9th 8:15 P.M. EST (NBC, Universo)

Buccaneers 31 – Washington Football Team 17

Is this even a playoff game. Sure I’m rooting for the WFT after all they’ve been through this year but they don’t have the kind of firepower like the Bucs do. Mike Evans, Godwin, Gronk, AB, and the GOAT Tom Brady. Even though Washington has a top 3 pass defense they won’t be able to contain the Bucs WR, and even if they somehow do Brady will find a way to pick them apart. On offense it’s been a pretty messy season with Haskins and all the other QBs they’ve started but Alex Smith has been a solid QB. However as of 1/7/21 he is listed as questionable and Taylor Heinicke has been taking snaps with the first team. If Alex Smith doesn’t start then Washington is going to have to rely on Antonio Gibson in the backfield. The only way I can see Washington winning this game is if their talented d-line consisting of Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen can get pressure on Tom Brady. We are going to see if Chase Young wished for the right thing……..

#5 Ravens at #4 Titans, January 10th 1:00 P.M. EST (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+, ESPN Deportes, Freeform)

Ravens 45 – Titans 35

The rematch of The AFC divisional round from last year is on Sunday and promises to be a good one. The Ravens are on fire in the late part of the season winning their last 5. They boast a 3 headed running attack with J.K Dobbins, Lamar Jackson, and Gus Edwards. They are the top ranked rushing offense in the NFL, with Lamar being a game changer whenever he enters the field. To make it worse for the Titans, there defense has been awful all year at it seems like the only way they can win is through a shootout. Luckily they have a 2 headed monster at WR with Corey Davis and A.J. Brown, who both are arguably the Most Improved Player of the year. Tannehill hasn’t been super flashy but he gets it done and he does it well, looking like one of the premier QBs in this league. And you can’t forget about the King, Derrick Henry. Just like the last 2 matchups Henry is going to run all over the Ravens, and I’m predicting he’s gonna be north of 200 yards this weekend. However at the end of the day this game is going to be a shootout and in the end the Titans defense is going to be able to hold up against the Ravens.

#7 Bears at #2 Saints, January 10th 4:40 P.M. EST (CBS, Nick, Amazon Prime Video, CBS All Access)

Bears 14 – Saints 24

The last time these teams met, the game went into OT and the Saints ended up winning. The Bears have been one of the most inconsistent teams I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t help that they have switched their QB 3 times this season. Some week Mitch Trubisky looks like an MVP candidate when other weeks he looks like a back-up. Allen Robinson has been a bright spot on the team with over  1,000 yards and 100 receptions on the season. David Montgomery hasn’t been too shabby either  1,070 yards and 8 TD. They will be playing a good Saints D with talent all over the field. As for the Saints they are loaded on offense with Brees, Kamara, Thomas and so many more. Despite this they live on shorter plays with Brees having one of the quickest release times in the NFL. This means they will have long, methodical drives that will most likely tire out the Bears Defense. At the end of the day the Bears got into the playoffs as and 8-8 team and they won’t be able to take down the second best team in the NFC. Fun Fact about this game: It is going to be on Nickelodeon and there going to be a lot of visual effect added to make it more “kid friendly” and I don’t know how I feel about this…….

#6 Browns at #3 Steelers, January 10th 8:15 P.M EST  (NBC, Telemundo, Peacock)

Browns 16 – Steelers 28

Wild Card Weekend will end of with 2 bitter division rivals. The Steelers embarrassed the Browns and barley lost the other time despite having key starters resting. The Browns have been pretty good on offense with Baker Mayfield getting it done when it matter the most, Nick Chubb being solid and Jarvis Landry being a solid WR option. However I don’t think this offense has enough to combat what the Steelers have, Big Ben, Claypool, Diontae Johnson, James Conner and a Tik-Tok star. The Steelers haven’t looked the best in the late part of the season but they have enough to beat the browns. They have arguably the best D in the NFL and that is not going to be easy for Baker to get around. Unfortunately the Browns D is mediocre meaning Big Ben can pick them apart. The only problem with the Steelers is their inconsistent at times, if they go back to how they played against Washington then they could be in trouble during this game. But in the end the Steelers are going to play like the better team and look better throughout the game. However I don’t think they are going to make it far in the playoffs.