Wild Card Weekend Preview


Photo via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

The Kansas City Chiefs look to spirt their way back to the Super Bowl.

I’m fresh off watching the Raiders beat the Chargers in OT to clinch a playoff berth. This game had it all, back and forth action, physical plays, and Cris Collinsworth repeating the same thing over and over. Collinsworth late in the 4th quarter: “Al, let me tell you something, these Chargers wide receivers are so tired. Look! They can’t even run back to the line of scrimmage, they’re walking!” Or Collinsworth saying, “Al, this Derek Carr is so tough.”

On Sunday, the Raiders clinched a playoff berth, the Chargers choked one away, as did the Colts, and the Steelers somehow got into the playoffs, although I have a feeling they will be obliterated by the Chiefs, but I’ll get to that later.

For the first time ever the NFL will have Wild Card games on Monday. So without further ado.


The AFC’s top seed is the Titans so they have a bye week and will not play until the divisional round.


Unintentionally, Chiefs-Steelers are the first on my list of teams. The Chiefs are the heavy favorites going into the match-up, and I can’t think of any way the Steelers pull off a win. The Steelers’ best chance is to not blitz Mahomes and hope he gets sloppy. Roethlisberger is a first ballot Hall of Famer, but he has nothing left in the tank.

The Chiefs have appeared in the last 2 Super Bowls, and even though they’ve had their ups and downs, the Steelers are in no way going to win this game. Like I said before, Roethlisberger is a Hall of Famer, and making the playoffs in his final season is a great story, but, and I mean this in a nice way, he’s going to be sent packing quicker than Antonio Brown can say “not guilty.”

Mahomes wasn’t his MVP-self this season, but he still threw 37 TDs and for 4,839 yards. The big “if” with Mahomes is if he will be playing hard from the get-go. Mahomes might realize the Steelers are the inferior team and play on cruise control until the 4th quarter. This could allow Big Ben to have a couple of vintage moments and T.J. Watt to sack Mahomes a couple times.

If the Chiefs only have a one possession lead in the 4th quarter and Mahomes has been playing decent, the Steelers could (highly doubtful) have a chance to win. Never count out Mike Tomlin and Big Ben, even though I just did in the paragraph before.

The key to the Steelers pulling out the upset of the century against the Chiefs is they pound the ball with Najee Harris and he has the game of his life.

The Chiefs are ranked 21st in run defense, and Steve Spagnuolo might have exhausted the tricks up his sleeve. Although, Spagnuolo might just blitz the holy heck out of the Steelers and make Roethlisberger look his age when out of the pocket. This is the same defensive coordinator that helped the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl twice. A key to those two wins were blitzing Brady and making him go outside the pocket where he would go from a great quarterback to a below average one.

Mahomes won’t let the lowly Steelers be the end of his season, so expect the Chiefs to dominate this one.


This may be the game of the weekend. The Bills face off against the Patriots in what could be one of the best chess matches between Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Bills coach Sean McDermott.

In their first meeting in Week 13, the Patriots won 14-10 behind their defense and run game, and most notably from that game, Mac Jones only threw the ball 3 times. However, in their second match-up things went the Bills way and they won 33-21 behind Josh Allen’s 3 touchdown passes.

The Patriots are the ultimate frisky team in the playoffs, right up there with the Eagles. The Patriots have stretches on offense where they will run the ball for 6 yards every time and they’re unstoppable. The Patriots second home is in Buffalo (where they will be playing) and if weather is a factor like it was in Week 13 then don’t be surprised if the Patriots pull off an upset. If its below 20 degrees and the wind is blowing the Patriots will rely on the run game, something the Bills couldn’t stop. The Bills are mediocre at stopping the run, and if Jones isn’t the one winning the game with his arm it will the all 4 Patriot running backs winning the game with their legs.

The Bills are a stay away team if you ask me. They lost to the Jaguars, got embarrassed by the Colts at home, lost to a Patriots team that only threw the ball 3 times, and were beat in a shootout against the Bucs. What those losses tell me is they can’t win a low scoring game that’s decided by who has the better gameplan, they can be beaten by the run game alone, and they can’t win in a high scoring game that’s decided by who’s got more gas left in the tank.

Josh Allen is supposed to be an MVP-caliber player, but all he has proven throughout his career is he can’t be trusted with the game on the line. Last year he had an opportunity to dethrone the Chiefs in the AFC Conference Championship, but he blew it when the pressure was on. Allen is not a guy that can be trusted, and I think against the Patriots we will see his true colors once again, I just hope everyone else sees it this time around.

I think Belichick winning a playoff game without Tom Brady is very important to him and he won’t let Sean McDermott and the Bills get in his way. If weather has any sort of affect on the game I think Belichick will make this game ugly. Like I said earlier, the Patriots are frisky, they are a team that looks unbeatable at times. And the Bills have looked very beatable all season. I have the Patriots winning and I think the Bills will have some tough decisions to make in the offseason.


The Bengals remind me a little of the 2003 Colts. They are led by a great quarterback in Joe Burrow and have a young team on both sides of the ball. Some will say their inexperience in the playoffs will be their downfall, but I say the Bengals have a real shot at the Super Bowl this year.

Burrow has gone mano-a-mano with Mahomes and won. If there was a year for a team like the Bengals to beat the Chiefs, this is the year. Burrow has Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd to throw to, and even though the Raiders have an above average pass defense, Burrow can easily penetrate it.

The Bengals defense is what will be their downfall. They are ranked 26th in pass yards allowed, and the Raiders like to throw the ball. Derek Carr threw for a career high 4,804 passing yards this season and has done a great job at surviving a season from down under.

The Raiders went into the season with little expectations but came out strong. Then Jon “I don’t have a racist bone in my body” Gruden got in trouble for making racist remarks in emails with friends. So it turned out he had a lot of racist bones in his body, and he was forced to resign in disgrace.

Then Rich Bisaccia took over as interim head coach and led the Raiders to the playoffs. Bisaccia has made a case for coach of the year and is a lock for best goatee in the NFL. Bisaccia is an ideal coach for the Raiders for two reasons: one, he looks like he could be a Raiders fan, and two, he doesn’t have any racist bones in his body.

The Raiders have the “nobody believes in us” thing going for them right now, but I highly doubt they will beat the Bengals. Carr has never played a playoff game, like Burrow, so this one could be low scoring and sloppy. Joe Mixon might be the deciding factor for the Bengals and could have a sneaky good game against a team that has struggled against the run.


In the NFC the Packers are the top seed so they have a bye week.


The Bucs are the favorite in this match-up, and it’s pretty obvious why.

They have Tom Brady. The Bucs defense is old and injured, but they will do enough to contain Hurts and the Eagles.

I said the Patriots are a frisky team, but so are the Eagles. When Jalen Hurts makes smart decisions with the ball, and he gets the job done with his legs instead of his arm, the Eagles are a good team. Hurts has 10 rushing TD’s, so the Eagles’ best chance is to blitz Brady and run the ball with Hurts.

The Bucs defense is very susceptible to the run game, and potential Coach of the Year Nick Sirianni should run the ball with his QB Jalen Hurts and running back Miles Sanders.

The Eagles will lose this game if they put all their faith in Hurts’ arm and trust their defense. Brady will throw all over the Eagles defense, and Leonard Fournette is prone to having big games when it matters.

I wonder if the Eagles will trust Hurts even if he’s having a bad game. If the Eagles are down 10 and Hurts has two interceptions and less than a 55% completion percentage, they should turn to Gardner Minshew. Sirianni is dead set on Hurts, but he shouldn’t be. Hurts is a shaky quarterback and he’s never played in the playoffs before (neither has Minshew), but he’s way more reliable.

The key for the Eagles is to run the ball with Sanders, read options with Hurts and pressure Tom Brady. If the Eagles want a shot, they have to make the game ugly.

The key for the Bucs is to trust the run on third and short and make sure Brady throws the ball 30+ times.


The 49ers-Cowboys game on Sunday is going to be very interesting.

The 49ers are an up and down team, but if Jimmy Garropolo is healthy, they are a Super Bowl-caliber team. However, he has an injured thumb that requires surgery when the season ends, but he’s looked okay.

Some call Jimmy G “a haircut,” others call him a talentless hack, but I think he’s not that bad. He gets a lot of hate for rarely being on the field, but when he’s healthy, they win games.

The X-factor for the 49ers is how well they run the ball. If Elijah Mitchell can pull a Raheem Mostert, the 49ers will be a-okay.
The 49ers defense isn’t great, but I trust their defense over the Cowboys offense.

In the last 25 years the Cowboys are notorious for choking in the playoffs, and I haven’t seen anything from Dak Prescott that makes me think he’ll be the guy to get the Cowboys out of the divisional round.

The Cowboys are set up to fail. Their star running back, Ezekiel Elliot, isn’t a star anymore, and Tony Pollard is great in spurts, but he isn’t a 20-carries-a-game guy. Before Jim Nantz and Tony Romo can hype the game up, the Cowboys will have already choked it away.

Mike McCarthy is not a coach famous for winning in the playoffs, and his soul seems doomed to be trapped in Dallas for years to come.


This Bills-Patriots game will be great, but I think Cardinals-Rams will be even better. The Cardinals are the underdogs, yet they don’t have the “nobody believes in us” thing going on. They think they are the same team they were in November, but they aren’t.

Reggie Jackson is nicknamed “Mr. October,” but I think we should give Kyler Murray that nickname. He is great in the regular season when things are low stakes, but late in the season when he had to win them games, he couldn’t get it done.

Murray has been good this season, but not great. Is that what Kyler Murray will be known for? Being a great quarterback in the first 10 games and then being a no-show in the next 7? Unless they beat the Rams, he will start to get a reputation for not being a clutch quarterback.

James Conner is a great red zone running back, but anywhere else on the field, he’s mediocre. The Cardinals are also without DeAndre Hopkins, their star wide receiver, so Murray will have to win this game himself, which is a big challenge for the potential superstar.

The Rams took the league by storm early in the season, but then they didn’t win a game in the month of November. They got back on track behind Stafford’s arm and Kupp’s record-breaking year. Stafford and Kupp are the new Rodgers-Adams combo. I don’t see the Cardinals secondary containing Kupp unless they double team him, in which case Stafford will throw to OBJ or Van Jefferson down the field.

The Rams’ downfall will be their run game, or lack thereof. They got Cam Akers back last week, but they will go slow with him and it’s not like he’s a superstar. Stafford also set a career high in interceptions this year, but he also tied his career high for touchdowns.

If the Rams stick to the passing game and Stafford makes smart decisions with the ball, the Rams will cruise to the divisional round.

Well, that’s it for my Wild Card Weekend Preview. Since I didn’t get a chance to mention it earlier, I wish best of luck to Baker Mayfield. This weekend he’ll probably be sitting on his couch  watching the Wild Card games as his “At Home with Baker Mayfield” commercials play, this must be a tough time for him.