NFL SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND PREVIEW by Scott Lewis
NFL reporter Scott Lewis gives us an in-depth and opinionated NFL Wild Card Weekend preview.
NFL SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND PREVIEW:
It is officially playoff time and the 2nd SUPER Wild Card weekend as Roger Goodell so affectionately calls it is about to start. 12 of the 14 playoff teams start their 5-week journey towards hoisting the Lombardi trophy at SoFi Stadium and I will break down each game and give my score predictions so let’s start the show.
CINCINNATI BENGALS VS LAS VEGAS RAIDERS:
The Raiders clinched their first playoff appearance in 5 years with a thrilling overtime win at home against the Chargers last week and now will enter Cincy trying to win their first playoff game in over 20 years. The Bengals on the other hand come into this game as the AFC North division champions and will be trying to win their first playoff game since 1991 as they are led by 2nd-year star Joe Burrow and dynamite rookie Ja’Marr Chase. Both of these teams finished 10-7 and are pretty familiar with each other as they faced off in Vegas in Week 11 where the Bengals won in blowout fashion 32-13. Despite that score, everybody knows the playoffs are a different game but I do not think the winning team will be different. Let’s just be honest the Raiders aren’t supposed to be here and this game is all about Burrow and the Bengals and I think that offense will be just too much to overcome for a Raiders team that will struggle to score with an offense this potent.
PREDICTION: Bengals over Raiders 31-17
BUFFALO BILLS VS NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
The NFC East unexpectedly came down to the wire this season with the Bills edging out the Patriots by one game and securing the division title and the home-field advantage in this matchup. These teams have played two different kinds of games this season with the Patriots winning in Buffalo back in Week 13 in a game that Mac Jones only threw 3 passes. The Bills returned the favor in Week 16 in Foxboro with a much higher scoring game 33-21. It's really hard to predict division games especially in the playoffs because of how well both teams know each other, this game will be about who makes the least mistakes not about Xs and O’s. The Pats have more experience with a few players remaining from those last couple championship teams and of course the greatest coach of all time, Bill Belichick. The Bills were Super Bowl favorites coming into this season, and despite not playing as well as many expected what they have should still be enough to win at home against a rookie quarterback in his first career playoff start.
PREDICTION: Bills over Patriots 24-21
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS VS PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:
The GOAT Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Bucs begin their quest for back-to-back titles at home this Sunday against a team that also shouldn’t be here(thanks, bottom half of the NFC) the 7th seeded Philadelphia Eagles. Tom Brady is no stranger playing the Eagles in a playoff game but fortunately for him, this is not the same roster that beat him in the Super Bowl a few seasons ago. This is an Eagles team that is going through a retool and is led by promising young quarterback Jalen Hurts and the best running attack in the NFL. The Bucs are dealing with their fair share of injuries with no Chris Godwin or Richard Sherman and course, losing Antonio Brown for extracurricular reasons but this couldn’t be a more perfect matchup for them to get their feet wet for the postseason. The Bucs will be at home and I expect that defense to shut down the Eagles running game and force the young Jalen Hurts to beat them and I, of course, have no hope in the Eagles defense stopping Tom Brady. This game should be a quick one for the champs.
PREDICTION: Bucs over Eagles 34-13
DALLAS COWBOYS VS SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:
The middle game on Sunday brings back one of the most storied rivalries in NFL history as Jerry’s Boys will face Bang Bang Niner Gang(E-40 voice) in the playoffs for the first time since the ’94 NFC Championship Game. This game is legendary or infamous depending on which fan base you ask regarding if Deon Sanders got away with pass interference on Michael Irvin on one of the deciding plays of that game. Dak and Jimmy G will lead the way in this rendition as the Niners will try to crush their rivals' Super Bowl dreams. This game has a stupid finish alert written all over it and could go either way due to the high inconsistency of both teams. Both teams have elite defenses that can change a game at any moment despite Dallas having an edge at quarterback. The Niners are back in the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago, add that with the Cowboys not playing so well offensively to end the season and the Niners coming into this one as the hottest team in the league I will put this one as an upset.
PREDICTION: Niners over Cowboys 34-27
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS VS PITTSBURGH STEELERS:
Throughout this article, I’ve named two teams that shouldn’t even be here and I’m going to add yet another team to that list and that is the Steelers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers backed their way into the postseason with a win over Baltimore and with the Raiders beating the Chargers this past Sunday. The media is hyping up this being Big Ben’s last ride and it honestly makes me sick to my stomach because the only ride Ben should be taking is to the local penitentiary. The Chiefs will look to snuff this “last ride” out as they look to finally click on both sides of the ball and try to win their 2nd Super Bowl in just 3 seasons. If the Chiefs play like the Chiefs and I expect they will this game will be a short one.
PREDICTION: Chiefs over Steelers 28-10
LOS ANGELES RAMS VS ARIZONA CARDINALS:
In our Super Wild Card Weekend finale, we have the 2nd division matchup of this round between the NFC West division Champions and the team that finished right behind them the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams clinched the division despite a losing effort at home to the Niners and with help with an embarrassing Cardinals loss to the Seattle Seahawks. These two split their season series with both winning on the opposing team's field. I’m not impressed with either team the Cardinals are coming into this one losing 4 of their last 5 and will be missing their star, WR DeAndre Hopkins. The Rams on the other side have won the division but the play of Matthew Stafford over the last month and a half should raise some concern about this team's chance to win the Super Bowl. I expect this to be a high-scoring game and as much as I don’t trust the Rams I think their defense and home-field advantage will be enough for them to pull this out.
PREDICTION: Rams over Cardinals 37-31