Previewing 2018/19 NFL Playoffs: Wild Card Round

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

It’s that time of the year where all football fans crave, the postseason. 12 teams are in, but four have byes for the first round. What we will be looking into will be the Wild Card Round, which might actually be the most exciting round of the playoffs before the Super Bowl because of all the drama it has left us over the years. With that being said, let’s look at the matchups.

American Football Conference

Indianapolis Colts vs Houston Texans

Colts

Indianapolis started the season 1-5, but went 9-1 the rest of the season to make the playoffs in spectacular fashion. Led by quarterback Andrew Luck, he has been the main reason why the offense has succeeded, but their defense has been spectacular as they finished in the Top 15. The defense will be the main ingredient for a deep run if they want to go to the Super Bowl.

Texans

If you think the Colts have been hot then you’ve been missing out on what Houston had done this year as after starting 0-3 they rallied on nine straight wins to essentially secure the AFC South. They are led by quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins on offense and a lot of spectacular things happen when the two of them are healthy. Like Indianapolis, their defense also finished in the Top 15 and will be a key to hopefully take them deep especially with the likes of defensive end J.J. Watt leading the charge.

Matchup notes

Indianapolis and Houston split the season series 1-1, but Indianapolis won more recently in Week 14 with a 24-21 decision.

Indianapolis and Houston’s defenses are ranked 11th and 12th respectively.

Colts finished 10-6 while Texans finished 11-5

Predictions

James Rowe: Houston. This is a more of an evenly matched contest than people might think and it should be a good one. I expect this to be a great one, but both sides are banged up pretty bad according to their injury reports as that will be a key factor for the game. That being said, I am going with the Texans to win this one.

Tabari McCoy: Texans.

Baltimore Ravens vs Los Angeles Chargers

Chargers

The Chargers shocked the football world as they came out of nowhere to win 11 games, but once you saw how well they played, it’s not shocking to see why. In fact, there is an argument that with how good they are that it’s time to change the playoff format. Their offense is led by Philip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon. The defense has been solid this year, but lost a key component to their pass-rush game with linebacker Jatavis Brown out for the year. The hope is that they can prove to everyone that they deserve to be in the running for AFC champion.

Ravens

Baltimore was lackluster and uninspiring for the longest time as they drug along this season, but with a change at quarterback mid-season, things became different as the offense suddenly got more dynamic to compliment their stout defense. Once Lamar Jackson took over the full-time quarterback role from Joe Flacco, they became a lot more efficient on offense and the team took off from there as they went 6-1 during that run. Jackson is incredibly dynamic with his rush and pass game as he changes the entire complexion of a contest with his ability to throw it and run it. Plus with how dominant of a defense they have, they are more dangerous than one might think.

Matchup notes

Baltimore won the only matchup this season with a 22-10 victory in Week 16.

Predictions

James: Chargers. While I like what I have seen from Baltimore of late, the Chargers are undoubtedly the better team. However they need to play up their absolute best to beat the Ravens. This will likely be a great game.

Tabari: Chargers. Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (look up the Dukes of Hazzard) aka Philip Rivers is going for his last glory run.

National Football Conference

Philadelphia Eagles vs Chicago Bears

Eagles

Philadelphia managed to get into the playoffs with some help with the team they are about to play in this matchup (Chicago defeating Minnesota) to even clinch a spot, but here they are with a chance to defend their Super Bowl crown. With their top quarterback Carson Wentz out with an injury, they will rely on Nick Foles again who went 4-1 to rally the Eagles to the playoffs. Their defense, while is very talented and was the biggest reason for as to why they won the Super Bowl last year, has been struggling this season with potent offenses, but have also been terrorizing others as they have tallied 44 sacks and have allowed 18 points per game. However, with how Chicago’s offense has been this year, this a good chance for Philadelphia to get the magic back again for a deep run.

Bears

They’re back!!! “Da Bears” are finally back in the postseason, but this time they are a fun squad to watch. The offense has been somewhat productive with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky leading the way along with a great tandem in the backfield with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, but their defense is what has been leading them all year. Once they picked up linebacker Khalil Mack via trade from Oakland, their defense has been awesome. The Bears are a very scary team and are built to go deep in the playoffs.

Matchup notes

Philadelphia has won five of last six games they have played. Chicago has won nine of last ten.

Predictions

James: Chicago. They really impressed me this year. The Bears are on their way to becoming a complete team, but fall just short with their inconsistencies on offense. But defense will be the biggest reason why they win.

Tabari: Eagles. Napoleon Dynamite aka Nick Foles is going to show why HE should be the permanent starter over Wentz.

Seattle Seahawks vs Dallas Cowboys

Seahawks

Seattle has been very consistent at making the playoffs, but they also are built to go deep in the playoffs too. The boast a very consistent and proven winning quarterback in Russell Wilson. They also rarely turn the ball over which will make it tough on any team. The biggest concern will be the offensive line as a good amount of their key players on the line are injured as protecting Wilson will be a difficult task. The defense is not as dominant as it once was back when they won the Super Bowl, but they still boast a very good player in linebacker Bobby Wagner leading the charge. Seattle might be a team to watch out for in the playoffs.

Cowboys

Having benefitted from a Redskins squad that got injury riddled (and did so in a very fast way), this team is much more dangerous than let on. Their offense is led on the ground by arguably the best running back in the league in Ezekiel Elliott and with Dak Prescott at quarterback who draws comparison to Wilson. However, they have a very dangerous and underrated defense led by Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, and Jaylon Smith at the linebacking position. Plus with the addition of a talented wide receiver in Amari Cooper mid-season, Dallas is more dangerous than people may think.

Matchup notes

Seattle won the only matchup 24-13 in Week Three

Predictions

James: Seattle. I actually think this will be a close game, the Seahawks are more battle tested than the Cowboys. Each team could win this honestly, but the Seahawks are more complete of a side.

Tabari: Seattle. You cannot let Russell Wilson in the playoffs and not expect trouble.

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