18 weeks have come and gone and it is now time for the most exciting postseason in North American Sports; the NFL playoffs. We are now in Year 2 in the new playoff bracket that allows only 1 bye in each conference as all other 6 teams will be playing this week. Here, I will be giving my predictions for each games.
(2) 49ers vs (7) Seattle Seahawks
Starting off in the NFC with a first round matchup not a lot of people expected. Even with Seattle having a surprising season, we all expected Rodgers and Green Bay to once again “run the table” and sneak into the playoffs but after a huge loss at Lambeau to the Detroit Lions, the Niners will welcome Seattle to the Bay for a Wild Card clash. These 2 teams, being in the same division, met twice already this season and I expect this one to go the same way the first 2 went. As impressive and resilient as Seattle has been this season, San Francisco has looked like the best team in football since losing Jimmy G to a season ending injury and I expect them to handle Seattle without much resistance.
Niners def. Hawks, 27-10
(3) Vikings vs (6) Giants
This is probably the toughest matchup to pick out of these NFC wild card matchups. While the record says Minnesota should handle NYG and should be seen as a Super Bowl contender, the games and stats tell a completely different story. Despite being 13-4, Minnesota somehow has a -3 point differential which puts them below Miami, Green Bay, and Detroit: a wild card team and 2 teams that didn’t even make the postseason. The amount of 4th quarter comebacks needed to win this year shows that this is a team that was getting by on some very timely luck. Now the Giants themselves are the strongest of Wild Card teams and did struggle against competitive teams this year, including losing to these same Vikings in week 16, but they are a well coached team with a good run game, good defense, and a QB that can have a strong performance against this woeful Minnesota secondary. I believe this is one of the stronger groups of Wild Card teams we’ve seen in recent memory and this is the first (but not last) Wild Card team I’m predicting to win this weekend.
Giants def. Vikings, 23-20
(4) Buccaneers vs (5) Cowboys
The most narrative driven game of the wild card round. Brady being 7-0 vs Dallas in his career, Dallas having yet to make a conference championship game in this decade, this potentially being Brady’s last playoff run, the list goes on and on. While history points to Brady beating Dallas, something he’s already done once this season, I think this is finally the time Dallas gets the better of the future hall of famer. The Bucs have not been a good football team by any means this season while Dallas has looked like the class of the NFC at times this year. I don’t know if Dallas is good enough to make it out the NFC but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to walk out of Raymond James Stadium as winners.
Cowboys def. Bucs, 20-15
(2) Bills vs (7) Dolphins
Contrary to popular belief, I think this game is a lot more close than people are giving it credit for. Miami has held a healthy Tua in both games against Buffalo this year and both games were close, 1 going to each team. While the postseason is a completely different animal, there’s no reason why Miami shouldn’t be able to give Buffalo a real run for their money this Sunday. Now the real question is what is the health of Tua. After 3 concussions already this season, you have to wonder what Tua we’re gonna be seeing this Sunday. If they get the Tua that went for 400 and 6 on Baltimore, Miami can pull off the upset of the postseason but if tua isn’t himself and they have to roll with Skylar Thompson, We’ll see something similar to what Buffalo did to New England in last year’s Wild Card Round.
Buffalo def. Miami, 38-20
(3) Bengals vs (6) Ravens
Another game where the health of the lower seed’s QB is the most important factor. Will Lamar Jackson be healthy enough to suit up against Cincinnati? It honestly might not matter as Cincy has looked like the best team in the AFC for the past month. Baltimore has a lot more holes that Lamar might not be able to cover up but their chances at winning are a hell of a lot higher with him under center. In the end though, not even a super human effort from Baltimore’s QB1 will be enough to overcome a Cincy team looking to get back to the Super Bowl.
Bengals def. Ravens, 28-25
(4) Jaguars vs (5) Chargers
This game here has to be the most exciting of the 2023 Wild Card slate. 2 superstar QBs in their first ever playoff games and 2 young teams with bright futures. Doug Pederson leading Jacksonville to a division crown in his first season at the helm and Herbert finally getting the Chargers to the postseason. While both of these teams have had strong performances at time, I believe the talent gap LA has over Jacksonville will be too much for Pederson and Lawrence to overcome in the end. While I see both QBs having strong performances, it will be Justin Herbert leaving Duval with his first playoff win under his belt.