NFL Wild Card Round Predictions (2019)

Carson Zorn, Writer

The playoffs are here! This is the most exciting time for NFL fans! Whether or not their team made it they will watch the playoffs for the pure thrill of watching upsets, and seeing who ultimately wins the Super Bowl. This might be one of the more exciting weekends in all of the playoffs because it is Wild Card Weekend! The weekend where underdogs can pull off huge upsets and where some teams don’t make it out of the first round. Now that there are fewer games, I can give a more in-depth analysis of each game. I’m also going to try out something new called ‘Quick Stats’, where I list some stats for both teams and briefly describe how they affect my decision on the game. So here we go with my predictions for Wild Card Weekend!

Record:

Last Week: 12-4

Total: 149-89

AFC:

(5)Buffalo Bills vs. (4) Houston Texans:

I think this is the most up in the air game this weekend. It’s basically a coin-flip. Both of these teams finished 10-6 in the regular season, but the Texans won their division. I think both of these teams are relatively good, but I don’t see either making it past the Divisional round.

Quick Stats:

-The Bills are 6-2 in away games this season, while the Texans are 5-3 at home. This means the Bills have an advantage in the Texans own stadium.

-The Texans beat the Patriots, whereas the Bills lost to them twice. This means the Texans are more suited to beat playoff-caliber teams.

-The Texans lost to the Broncos and Panthers, the Bills lost to the Browns, meaning both teams are inconsistent and can lose random games.

-The Bills defense contains superstar Corner Tre’Davious White, who is the only Corner to not allow a Touchdown this year. He will be guarding Deandre Hopkins most of the time, neutralizing one of the Texans top offensive weapons. 

-Bills RB Devin Singletary is averaging 5.1 Yards per Carry (YPC), while Texans RB Carlos Hyde is averaging 4.4 YPC, meaning the Bills have more talent in the backfield.

-The Texans offense doesn’t operate as well without field stretching WR Will Fuller, and Fuller is expected to be out for this game. This means the Bills top five defense can focus even more on shutting down WR Deandre Hopkins.

-This Texans team has more playoff experience than almost every player on the Bills roster.

Given all these stats, I like the Bills to win this game. Yes, the Texans are more experienced in the playoffs, but they have lost at home multiple times in the last couple years. The Bills defense is out of this world, and if Tre’Davious White neutralizes DeAndre Hopkins, the whole Texans offense will slow down by quite a bit. The Bills offense can be quite inconsistent but the defense always finds a way to keep them in the game. I think QB Josh Allen has made enough strides this year that he will be able to capitalize on the opportunities the defense hands the offense. It really is a coin flip but I think the Bills are overall the better team. 

Bills Win 24-21

 

(6) Tennessee Titans vs (3) New England Patriots:

This game is not as easy to pick as it seems. The Titans have been on fire since Ryan Tannehill took over as their starting QB, and the Patriots have been slowly declining since their loss to the Ravens, with their most recent loss coming to the Dolphins with playoff seeding on the line. So, this game could be a lot closer than most people may think.

Quick Stats:

-The Titans are 7-3 since Ryan Tannehill took over as starting QB. The Patriots are 6-4 in the same span. 

-Derrick Henry was the NFL’s leading rusher this season, while no Patriots RB went over 1,000 yards. This means that the Titans have a beast in the backfield no matter which defense they face, while the Patriots committee can end up hurting the backfield strength.

-The Titans leading receiver, rookie A.J. Brown, finished with 52 receptions for 1,051 receiving yards, while the Patriots leading receiver, Julian Edelman, finished with 100 receptions for 1,117 yards. This means both teams have effective offensive weapons in the receiving corps, but the Titans receiver is more efficient with his catches. 

-The Titans beat the Chiefs, the Patriots lost to the Chiefs, showing that the Titans are more equipped to beat high-scoring teams. 

-The Patriots defense finished as the number one overall defense (Pro-Football Reference), while the Titans finished at 12. This speaks for itself.

Even though the Titans are hot right now, the Patriots are still the Patriots. Every year we think the dynasty is ending and it never does, but it could actually be ending. But, the Patriots will use the doubt as fuel and pull out a win in this game. I do think it will be a close game though.

Patriots Win 35-30

 

NFC:

(5) Seattle Seahawks vs (4) Philadelphia Eagles:

The battle of the birds. The Eagles made it into the playoffs by being slightly less bad than the Cowboys, but I still really don’t feel like they belong in the playoffs, and they definitely don’t deserve home field advantage. But, a lot of credit needs to be given to QB Carson Wentz as he carried the injured Eagles roster to the playoffs.

Quick Stats:

-Carson Wentz threw for over 4,000 yards without having a single receiver go for over 500 yards. This shows that Wentz can make the Eagles offense work with any set of weapons.

-The Eagles receiving corps is decimated by injury, while the Seahawks running back corps is down to Marshawn Lynch, who just came out of retirement. So, both teams don’t have their top offensive weapons on the field.

-Both Quarterbacks threw for over 4,000 yards and 25+ touchdowns, meaning that the QB strength is almost even.

-The Seahawks two receivers finish with 900+ yards on the season, meaning that their receiving corps is strong, while the Eagles secondary is not. The Seahawks will be able to pass on the Eagles at will.

-The Eagles have a strong running game between three different RBs, the Seattle run defense ranks 22nd, the Eagles will be able to keep the ground game involved.

-The Seahawks are 7-1 in away games this year, while the Eagles are 5-3 at home, so the away team has the advantage here.

I just think the Seahawks are the better team, and despite their depleted running game, they will win the game. They have a great receiving corps and a fantastic QB, leading to a solid win.  

Seahawks Win 28-24

 

(6) Minnesota Vikings vs (3) New Orleans Saints:

Most NFL fans remember what happened when these teams met in the playoffs (Sorry for reminding you Saints fans!), but this game will turn out much different. This is the one game this weekend that I don’t think is hard to pick. The Saints are a much better team, and it’s a shame that the Packers got the bye instead of them.

Quick Stats:

-Vikings QB Kirk Cousins finished 1-4 against teams with winning records this year, he has not shown he is capable of beating playoff caliber teams.

-Saints WR Michael Thomas finished with over 1,700 receiving yards, and was the NFL’s leading receiver, no team could stop him, the Vikings won’t be able to either.

-Vikings RB Dalvin Cook has been unstoppable this season, but may not be at 100% for this game.

-Kirk Cousins has had trouble utilizing Adam Thielen recently, which could lead to the Vikings offense stalling.

-Drew Brees is one of the greatest QBs to ever play the game, and he will be hungry for a Super Bowl run, making this Saints team almost unstoppable. 

This is one is a little shorter than my other predictions, because I have no doubt in my mind that the Saints will win (I have the Saints beating the Chiefs in the Super Bowl if you’re wondering) and the Vikings shouldn’t pose a challenge to the Saints. 

Saints Win 30-21

 

Those are my Wild Card Weekend predictions! It should be a great weekend of football and I’ll be back next week for Divisional round predictions. Enjoy some football this weekend!