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The Road to Vegas: Wild Card Weekend Game Predictions

The Super Bowl Tournament Begins

It’s crazy to think that just 18 weeks ago, NFL fans all across the country sat down on their couch on a Thursday night to watch the Chiefs and the Lions kick off the 2023-24 NFL season, and now we are already at the playoffs. After an overall successful and entertaining season, many NFL fans hope that that trend will continue through the playoffs. These matchups on Super Wild Card Weekend may just be some of the best playoff games in NFL history, but only time will tell. In this article, I will analyze each game and ultimately choose my winner and final score. 


Game #1: Saturday, January 13th: Browns (5) vs Texans (4)

If you told me that this was going to be a first-round playoff game three years ago, I would have thought you were crazy. Both these teams have been through a lot of ups and downs throughout the past three years, but now they have finally both made it to the playoffs again and are playing eachother in Round One, which could be one of the best games of the weekend. First, let’s look at the QB matchup. The Texans have one of the best rookie QBs since Dak Prescott; CJ Stroud, who has been putting up incredible numbers and leading a team that was 3-13-1 last year to 10-7, which is really impressive. On the other hand, Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Flacco came off the couch and back to the NFL in surprising fashion and led the Browns to the 5th seed in the AFC, which was also almost as surprising as CJ Stroud’s rookie season. Both QBs have been playing exceptionally well and could both go on a hot streak and lead their teams to a game in Vegas, but I think this game comes down to the team that has the better defense, and that is the Cleveland Browns. Even though the Browns have had FOUR different starting QBs this year, they were still able to keep winning games, and I think that is 1000% because of their defense, which will be the reason why they win this game. I have Cleveland over the Texans 27-20.   


Game #2: Saturday January 13th: Dolphins (6) vs Cheifs (3) 

Ladies and gentlemen, once again, we have a playoff game in Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs seem to be extremely dominant during this time of year. After a disappointing loss to the Bills, Tua and Tyreek Hill look to bounce back in what will be a tough game vs the Chiefs. First, let’s talk about something that will play a HUGE factor in the game on Saturday night: the weather. This game is set to be one of the coldest games of all time, just below the “Ice Bowl” in 1967 when the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys at -13 degrees. At kickoff, the forecast has the temperature at -6 degrees and the windchill being -30 degrees. Miami is 0-5 in games that have this kind of weather, and I think that at the end of Saturday night, they will be 0-6 in freezing weather games. Miami is hot, and they are not used to weather like this, Mahomes, while not having to play in freezing weather like this before, is more used to playing in Kansas City’s colder winter climate. Tyreek Hill looks to make a return to Arrowhead Stadium after leaving the Chiefs a few years ago, but I dont think it will be the return he was hoping for. I just don’t see the explosive Dolphins offense being as explosive as they usually are due to the frigid weather. I still think this Dolphins team is better than the Cheifs, but I’m going to take the Cheifs in this game, 23-10.  


Game #3: Sunday, January 14th at 1 pm: Steelers (7) vs Bills (2)

We are all asking ourselves the same question about this match-up: how in the world did the Steelers end up here? I mean, they are simply not a good team on paper, but head coach (and Coach of the Year candidate) Mike Tomlin seems to pull his magic every so often to get this team into the playoffs. That being said, Mike Tomlin is not going to be able to use any magic to win against this HOT Bills team. After winning their last five games in a row, the Bills look like they can’t be stopped. Their run game with James Cook has gotten better and better every week, and their pass attack looks just as scary when QB Josh Allen is playing at his best. The Steelers will miss Defensive Player of the Year candidate TJ Watt this week due to a knee injury he suffered last week, which just puts them even more at a disadvantage. I don’t really think much has to be said about this game, but if the Steelers are able to pull this off, it may be one of the biggest upsets we have ever seen in a playoff game. I’m going with the Bills over the Steelers, 38-13.  


Game #4: Sunday, January 14th at 4:30 pm: Packers (7) vs Cowboys (2) 

The team from Green Bay meets the team from Dallas once again in the NFL playoffs. Out of the last 11 match-ups between these two teams, Green Bay has won 10 of them. Now, it’s important that I do mention that those matchups were with QB Aaron Rodgers, so this time around, it could be very different. However, QB Jordan Love is HOT right now, which is always a scary sight when you see a QB getting hot right before the playoffs. Now, if we look at the Cowboys, on paper, they have a much better team all around. They have one of the best offenses, led by Dak Prescott and first-team All-Pro WR Ceedeee Lamb, a defense led by LB Micah Parsons, and breakout second-year star CB Darron Bland. Having the second seed was very important to the Dallas Cowboys, as (knock on wood) they are always incredible when they play at home, especially this season. As a Cowboys fan, facing Green Bay in the playoffs always scares me, I still have nightmares from the last two matchups (2014 and 2017), but I do think that this could be a really good game, it all depends on what Dallas team we get on Sunday, the extremely dominant one, or the team that couldn’t beat the Cardinals. This game will come down to the Cowboys’ and Packers’ defense, and whoever outplays the other on that side of the ball will win this game. The Packers have the number 22 ranked defense, and I think that Ceedee and Dak have a really good chance to exploit this defense weakness. For those reasons, I am taking the Dallas Cowboys over the Green Bay Packers, 31-17.  


Game #5: Sunday, January 14th at 8:15 PM: Rams (6) vs Lions (3) 

This year, the Lions won the division for the first time since 1993 and are looking to win their first playoff game since 1992. Their last division win and playoff win was when my dad was still in high school, so it was a long time ago. Even though they haven’t won in the playoffs in decades, this year, they may have the team to do it. QB Jared Goff is playing his old team at his new home in Detroit, having star WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and breakout rookies TE Sam LaPorta and RB Jahmyr Gibbs as his offensive weapons. The Rams, on the other hand, also have a very unexpectedly good offense with QB Matthew Stafford and WRs Cooper Kupp, star rookie WR Puka Nacua and second-year RB Kyren Williams. I think that this will be a very, very good game. Both QBs have something to prove to their former teams, and Stafford has to show the people of Detroit why he is the better QB than his replacement, Jared Goff. I think this will be a heavy offensive battle and the highest-scoring game of the weekend. But I do have the Rams going into Detroit and beating the Lions 34-31 on a storybook game-winning drive by Matthew Stafford and the Rams.


Game #6: Monday, January 15th at 8:15 PM: Eagles (5) vs. Bucs (4) 

 It is the last game of Super Wild Card Weekend and probably one of the most unpredictable games of the playoffs this year. The Eagles started off 10-1 and were on a hot streak, and then they completely fell off, losing five of their last six games, which is not good when heading into the playoffs, momentum is key for winning games this late in the season. Even worse for the Eagles, QB Jalen Hurts hasn’t even thrown a football since his injury in last week’s game versus the Giants, where he dislocated his middle finger, which is obviously a huge issue if your quarterback can’t throw the football. The Bucs’ QB, on the other hand, is very streaky; Baker Mayfield can go on a hot streak for a few weeks and play like an MVP-type player, or he can play like a backup QB, you just don’t know what you are going to get out of Baker and the Bucs. That being said, I really don’t know whom to pick in this game. I go back and forth, switching my pick every day, but I do think right now, the Eagles may have an edge over the the Bucs just because they have a more talented roster on paper. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs pull off an upset here, but I’m going to pick the Eagles in a close matchup, 17-14.           

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