NFL Wild Card Predictions
Colts @ Texans
Analysis: Anytime there's an in-division playoff game, you know it's going to be close. Two of the hottest teams in the NFL are going head to head, the Colts have won 9 out of the last 10 games and the Texans have won 11 out of their last 13 games. While the Texans have bigger names like Deshaun Watson and Deandre Hopkins; the Colts have similar chemistry with smaller named players. The Texans have the best receiver in the NFL with Deandre Hopkins and you know he is going to show out for the playoffs. The Colts have given up the least amount of sacks this year (18) and have their starting center with Ryan Kelly back in the game. While the Colts offensive line is having a phenomenal season, they are still facing off against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. JJ Watt is great in January and Jadeveon Clowney likes going one on one with heavier centers, which Ryan Kelly is. There is also an interesting head coaching matchup with Frank Reich versus Bill O'Brien. Reich is having a Coach of the Year type season and Bill O'Brien has been able to lead his team to the playoffs in 4 out of his 5 seasons as the head coach for the Houston Texans. The Texans are the more experienced team, but I think the Colts are the more well-rounded team. Deshaun Watson is used to the high stakes games and Andrew Luck has had some memorable playoff games. The Texans also have a great defense, they obviously have an outstanding defensive line, but they also have a stud linebacker in Benardrick McKinney, and a ball hawk safety with Tyrann Mathieu. The Colts were the first team to have two rookie all pro's since 1965. Quenton Nelson has became arguably the best guard in all of football and Darius Leonard is a "Maniac" on the field! I think this is going to be a game that both teams score more than three touchdowns and should come down to the 4th quarter. If we are talking about who I trust more it has to be Andrew Luck. Luck is having an MVP type season and deserves more attention. Luck also has provided me with one of my favorite wild card games ever when he came back against the Chiefs. Luck is going to put on a show and do what he does best, which is throw it down field to TY Hilton and into the endzone with Eric Ebron.
Matchup To Watch: Quenton Nelson and Ryan Kelly versus Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt
Impact Players: Deandre Hopkins and TY Hilton
Final Score: Colts 27 Texans 23
Seahawks @ Cowboys
Analysis: Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson are two of the best primetime quarterbacks in the NFL and they are going head to head in this highly anticipated wildcard round. If you go back a couple years, the cowboys were one Aaron Rodgers game-winning drives away from the conference championship game. Dak Prescott did not shy away from the playoff atmosphere, so I'm not too concerned about Prescott getting nervous. If we look on the other side of this matchup, Russell Wilson might be the best quarterback in the playoffs besides Tom Brady. Wilson is will show out today, I have no doubt about that. If we look on the ground, we have two of the best run games in the national football league. The Seahawks and Cowboys each have quarterbacks who are a threat in the run game and running backs who are getting hot at the right time. Chris Carson has been arguably the best running back in all of football this past month and for the Cowboys they have Ezekiel Elliott. Ezekiel Elliot led the league in rushing yards and rush attempts this year. Zeke is a monster and needs to be fed. Zeke has the similar effect that Adrian Peterson has; the more carries he gets the better he gets. Next let's talk about the receivers, neither team have star tight ends but each have solid receivers. The Cowboys have Amari Cooper who's slowed as of late, but is still a humongous threat. He is just waiting to break out. The Cowboys also have a deep threat with Michael Gallup and a reliable slot receiver with Cole Beasley. The Seahawks have Doug Baldwin who's been shook up all season, but is starting to get comfortable, and Tyler Lockett who's had a break out season. Tyler Lockett has 9 touchdowns and the Cowboys can't let him get over the top. On the offensive side, I think the Seahawks will rule the game. I think it just takes one shot down field for Russell Wilson who I think throws the best deep ball in the NFL. On the defensive side, I like the Cowboys. They have a phenomenal defensive end with Demarcus Lawrence and the stud rookie linebacker in Leighton Vander Esch. They also have a second team all pro in Byron Jones playing corner. The Seahawks defense have two true studs on their defense, Bobby Wagner and Frank Clark. I think Clark is going to disrupt the passer and Wagner will make sure Zeke doesn't get loose. This is a very even game, I think it will come down to a 4th quarter final drive. I think a there can be a deep shot to close the game and it will come down to the very end. This game has me HYPE!
Matchup to Watch: Ezekiel Elliot versus Bobby Wagner
Impact Players: Frank Clark and Demarcus Lawrence
Final Score: Seahawks 24 Cowboys 20
Chargers @ Ravens
Analysis: The rookie versus the vet, that's what this is. Lamar Jackson versus Phillip Rivers part two. This will be the first game that a team will face Lamar Jackson for the second time, and if I'm a Ravens fan; I'm nervous about that. I like that Marty Mornhingweg is starting to get Lamar Jackson more comfortable in the pocket. If we look in the past, quarterbacks like Robert Griffin are nothing without their legs. I hate to say it, but Jackson will face a time in his career that he won't be able to run and if he's comfortable in the pocket then he will be able to survive in this league. I think Jackson's legs should be used more on third down and in the red zone either than a read option on 2 and 9. Phillip Rivers is mister reliable. Rivers will take his shots, but it's all about how he responds to the pressure. Last time we saw Rivers face the Ravens he struggled against the blitz. I think if Rivers will be able to step into his throws that he should be fine. I'm looking to see the Ravens two back sets. I don't know how you defend both Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards who are both flaming hot right now. If you add Jackson into the mix, this run game is terrifying. The Chargers running game isn't too shabby either. They have a three headed monster with Melvin Gordon, Justin Jackson, and Austin Ekeler. I think that the Chargers are going to use their backs in the passing game and get Ekeler involved a lot in the 4th quarter. I'm not too scared by Crabtree, John Brown, or Chris Moore, but I'm curious how they use their tight ends. For the Chargers I like the matchup of Keenan Allen versus Marlon Humphrey. The trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Tyrell Williams has caused defense struggles all season long. They also have a deep threat in Travis Benjamin, and this whole defense should be a little concerned. Now let's talk about defense, the Ravens have the best one in the league. It's as simple as that. Matthew Judon is having a breakout season and both Terrell Suggs and Brandon Williams are great run stuffers. The Ravens also have ballers on their secondary, Marlon Humphrey is having a breakout season to go along with the 5-time all pro safety Eric Weddle. The Ravens are a great scoring defense and they are going to give Phillip Rivers fits. The Chargers also have a great defense. Ingram and Bosa rule the run game while they have three standout members of their secondary. Their secondary is led by rookie phenom Derwin James and second year stud Desmond King. They also have a lockdown corner in Casey Hayward. I think the biggest impact on this game will be the experience that the Chargers defense has on Lamar Jackson. If the Chargers don't figure something out early on in this game I think they will get burned. The Chargers fan base should be hoping that they figured something out about Lamar Jackson.
Matchup To Watch: Derwin James vs Lamar Jackson
Impact Players: Lamar Jackson and Austin Ekeler
Final Score: Chargers 31 Ravens 24
Eagles @ Bears
Analysis: Can the magic of Nick Foles do it again? I hope so, Nick Foles has the best story in the NFL and I think it would be spectacular if he leads the Eagles deep into the playoffs once again. Can he do it? That's the question I don't have the answer to. Not to say nobody else is, but Foles is hurting right now. I strongly think that Foles has cracked ribs right now, but is playing through the pain. I am just worried about Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks. I think it would take one shot to the ribs to knock Foles out of the game. If we look on the Bears offense, they are led by a dominant run game and have creative play calling. While I don't think Mitchell Trubisky is going to win them the game, as long as he doesn't turn the ball over he should be fine. I want to see how they use Tarik Cohen in this game, he can be the x-factor in this game. He just needs the ball in space to change this entire football game. One other thing I am curious about is who will win the matchup on 4th and one Jordan Howard or that Eagles defensive line. Both of these teams have dominant defensive lines and creative play callers. I think if Nick Foles is able to air it out to Alshon Jeffery this game is over. Foles has been spreading the ball out and getting Jeffery involved. If Kyle Fuller can stay consistent and make sure that these Eagles receivers don't get hot, then the Bears should be okay. I also like these teams in the redzone. Zach Ertz always steps up in critical moments and Nagy always finds elusive ways to keep the drive going. The key to victory for the bears are exposing the Eagles weak secondary. If Trubisky can accurately throw the ball down field they will be able to expose the secondary. I think that Eagles will be trying to get Josh Adams going and set up the play action. I believe this is going to be settled by defense and be on the lower scoring side.
Key Matchup: Khalil Mack vs Nick Foles
Impact Players: Khalil Mack and Josh Adams
Final Score: Eagles 17 Bears 24