• Sam Levine

NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

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This season there have been two new games added to Wild Card Weekend and I cannot wait. It has been a very competitive year in the NFL and it all boils down to this, who will have the opportunity to advance to the divisional round? Here are my picks:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 - 20 Washington Football Team

I am a big believer in Washington's defense. They are an elite unit and it is all because of that deadly front 4. This Washington defense may be the most equipped defense in the NFL to beat Tom Brady because of the athleticism they have upfront and the way they get to the quarterback. But you cannot deny that Tampa has hit their stride recently. Their offense has amassed 40+ points in the last two games. Antonio Brown has started to make an impact and Tom Brady for the first time this season actually looks comfortable.

New Orleans Saints 27 - 13 Chicago Bears

Say what you will about the Saints' offense and their lack of explosiveness, but their defense is an elite unit. Trey Hendrickson and Cam Jordan combined for 21 sacks alone. That same defense also has 4 players with 10 or more TFLs. They get after you and punish you, and it shows on the scoreboard. Their defense only allowed 30 points or more twice this season, and overall, New Orleans is only letting opponents score 21.1 points per game. Chicago's offense is lacking in many areas, specifically quarterback, and when it comes to on field play, they don't look like a playoff team. I don't see how all of a sudden that is going to change when facing an upper echelon defense.

Buffalo Bills 38 - 24 Indianapolis Colts

Buffalo is the hottest team in the NFL right now and they are putting the entire league on notice. Just last week, the Bills dominated their way to a 56-26 win over a Dolphins team that had previously only let up 30 or more twice since week seven. Overall, Miami was only allowing 21.3 points per game. The strength for the Colts is without a doubt their defense as they are top 10 in total yards allowed per game and in points allowed per game. However, at this point in the season, I feel confident saying that Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills will still be able to score points even with a top 10 defense on the other sideline.

Tennessee Titans 35 - 31 Baltimore Ravens

This is my pick for game of the week right now. This will be the third time that these two squads will have faced off in less than a year. In both of those games, Derrick Henry has been the gut punch for Baltimore. When I look at this game and these two offenses, you see run heavy attacks. Both like to work through the running game and their offense relies on the rushing attack. When you look at Baltimore's rushing attack, they are prolific but it is possible to slow them down and make Lamar Jackson throw the ball. I'm not so sure it's possible to slow down Derrick Henry as there's only 6 games this season where he hasn't surpassed 100 yards. Mix in a very good passing attack with A.J. Brown, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith and I believe this Titans offense is in a much better situation to win a shootout. And I think this game will be just that.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 - 16 Cleveland Browns

Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week and will not be on the sidelines this weekend. This is a significant blow for Cleveland because he also calls all the offensive plays. The Offensive Coordinator Alex Van Pelt will have those duties this week. If you watched the CFP semifinal game last week between Ohio State and Clemson, you know what not having your primary play caller can do to an offense. The Tigers couldn't get anything going all game and really just looked lethargic throughout. You pair that up with the fact that Pittsburgh's defense is top 3 in every major statistical category and it looks to be like it will be one of those disaster days for Cleveland.

Seattle Seahawks 23 - 13 Los Angeles Rams

At this point in time, it is still unclear whether or not Jared Goff will be ready to go for this Saturday game. It has been said that he is "progressing well" but we don't have any real information yet on if he will play or not. Regardless though, I believe the Seahawks come out on top. Seattle's defense has improved greatly since week 9 and they haven't allowed a single opponent surpass the 23 point mark. While LA's defense is a great unit too, I trust in Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett to get theirs and clinch the victory.