NFL Wild Card Weekend Preview + Predictions
This weekend, the NFL Playoffs kick off with the four wild card games. It is time for some hard-nose football and I am extremely excited. Now, even though the 49ers aren’t in the playoffs, but there are still many games to be excited about.
Wild Card weekend is full of games that have the potential to get the playoffs started off on an exciting note, with the exception of one game.
That one game is the Atlanta Falcons at the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams went through this season as one of the best teams in football, and this year, their offense exploded under the tutelage of Sean McVay. Jared Goff has played like an MVP, tossing 3,804 yards and 28 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. The Rams offense isn’t entirely dependant on Goff though, as he has one of, if not the best, all-around running back in the NFL standing in the backfield with him. That running back, is Todd Gurley. He was absolutely absurd this season, rushing for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns, but not only was he the NFC’s leading rusher, he was also the Rams’ leading receiver. He caught 64 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns. I think that the combination of those two is more than enough to sink the Atlanta Falcons, who have had an pretty disappointing season following their super-bowl run.
The Falcons finished the season at 10-6, and they could have easily won two or three more games. The problem has been that the offense is much less dynamic than it was last year under Kyle Shanahan. Following an MVP-season, Matt Ryan has had a dramatic drop off. He still threw for 4,095 yards, but only threw 20 touchdowns, as opposed to the 38 he had last year, and his interception total doubled, from six to twelve. This drop off was particularly disappointing due to the fact that he had even more pieces around him than he did last year. He only threw three touchdowns to Julio Jones, and throughout the whole season he had problems overthrowing open receivers and missing open passes. They’re dynamic duo in the backfield of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman has not been as great, they rushed for less yards and like six less touchdowns. And they have to run up against a Rams defense that has several great interior defenders and are very capable of stopping the docile Falcons offense.
I see the Rams dominating the Falcons on Saturday. Their offense is so fast and their defense flies all over the field. They have too many weapons as well as one of the most dynamic play-callers in the game in Sean McVay. I don’t see any way that the Falcons can keep up with the Rams, and the Rams will win the game easily. I think the Rams will win the game 31-17.
The other game on Saturday is the Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs. I expect this game to have some exciting points, and I think the Titans will be able to keep it close during the first quarter, but the Chiefs will pull away and end up blowing out the Titans.
The Titans simply are not good. They lost three of their last four games, and looked bad doing so. Marcus Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdowns, and they will also be without their best running back, DeMarco Murray. I don’t think their offense has the ability to keep pace with the Chiefs if they get going, they just don’t have enough weapons. The Chiefs, on the other hand, have an incredible amount of weapons. They have the NFL’s leading rusher in Kareem Hunt, All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, as well as one of the fastest players the sport has ever seen in Tyreek Hill.
I see the Chiefs exploding as the game goes on, and build a lot of momentum heading into the next round of the playoffs on the back of their 28-10 win.
The two games on Sunday are the games I can see going either way. First, the Buffalo Bills are playing the Jaguars in Jacksonville. I hope you are ready for some good, old-fashioned, 1990’s football.
Both these teams are defensive minded, and are pretty feeble on offense, especially in the passing game. The two quarterbacks are Tyrod Taylor and Blake Bortles, neither are regarded as a pro-bowl caliber player. Here’s the thing about this game, I think that the Jaguars should be able to run away with it, but they are playing a Buffalo Bills team that just ended one of the longest playoff droughts in professional sports. I also think that Blake Bortles is due for another bad game, like the one he had against the San Francisco 49ers a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately for Bills fans, I don’t think that they can outlast the Jags in a defensive slugfest.
The Jags have too much talent on defense to allow for any offense to find a good rhythm (except for Jimmy G and the Niners), and the Bills don’t have enough weapons to actually sustain drives against the Jags.
I think that the Jags will win this game, but it will be close and exciting until the very end. I see the final score being 13-6.
The last game of the weekend is between the Saints and Panthers, and it will be interesting to say the least. This year, the Saints have moved away from the passing game that they have relied on for so long, and rode on the backs of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. The duo was remarkable all year, and combined for 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns. Drew Brees was still excellent as well, throwing for 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns. They also have one of the best young receivers in the game in Michael Thomas, who had 1,245 yards and five touchdowns. They have a decent defense, but I think that they’re offense can carry them in a shootout with any team.
The Panthers had a pretty good season, and they finished the year with a 11-5 record. The problem though, lies with Cam Newton, who has been pretty inconsistent. At times, he has looked like his MVP self, whereas at other times he has looked extremely pedestrian. He finished the season with a completion percentage that was less than 60%, which is not good. He threw for 3,302 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions, which is a very average passing season. However, he had an incredible season running the ball, finishing with 754 yards and six touchdowns, and was the team’s leading rusher. They still have a formidable defense, but I don’t think that they will be able to stop the rushing attack of the Saints.
I think that this will be the best, most competitive game of the weekend, but I think that the Saints will come out on top, and win the game 21-17.
Wild Card weekend is going to be the start of a very exciting month of football, and I can’t wait for it to start.