It’s Wild Card weekend and so our team here decided to give you our predictions this week of each game.
Meet our Panel:
Jake Ellenbogen (@JKBogenDTR)
Blaine Grisak (@bxgrisakNFL)
Alex Kelly (@Nation_Rams)
Gary Weed (@ksudodger)
James Lamar (@Lamar_Football)
Nicolas Galarreta (@Rams24_7)
Joseph Isola (@JISO57)
Mark Lujan (@MLujan520)
#5 Tennessee Titans vs. #4 Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday @ 4:20PM EST
The Titans were able to sneak into the playoffs last week with a 15-10 win over the rival Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, they have the tough task of playing what was at one point the hottest team in the league.
Jake: Titans 24, Chiefs 20
When you look at the loss of Eric Berry from the beginning of the year, that has clearly hurt the Chiefs. Still a great offense but the Titans have a solid defense. I expect Derrick Henry (who is better than Murray anyway) to pound the rock and All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to force a turnover or two to take this one to the next round.
Blaine: Chiefs 27, Titans 20
The Chiefs aren’t the team they were earlier in the season, but they have been better and are running the ball like they did earlier in the season. Marcus Mariota is not a quarterback that is going to take advantage of the depleted secondary.
Alex: Chiefs 27, Titans 17
Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt have brought the Chiefs back to life after a mid-season skid. DeMarco Murray is out and Marcus Mariota hasn’t played great all year. That’ll be the difference in this one
Gary: Chiefs 31, Titans 17
No DeMarco Murray is a killer for the Titans. Alex Smith will make plays when needed and the defense will bend not break.
James: Chiefs 24, Titans 20
The Chiefs have had an explosive offensive attack at times this season. When Alex Smith pushes the ball downfield, they are a tough group to stop. Kareem Hunt will have tough time finding space against a stout Titans run defense lead by Jurrell Casey, but the passing defense will allow Hunt a lot of space in the flat and on screens. Ultimately, this game will come down to turnovers, and the Titans are the only team in the playoffs with a negative turnover differential.
Nick: Chiefs 31, Titans 14
The Titans benefitted from playing a weak schedule & in a weak division. They don’t belong and will get blown out by the Chiefs behind Kareem Hunt
Joseph: Chiefs 27, Titans 17
The Titans made the playoffs after a fairly unimpressive season. Mariota turned the ball over a decent amount and the running game struggled even with a solid offensive line and two notable running backs. The Chiefs, with experienced coach Andy Reid, are hitting their stride after a lack luster middle of the season. The Chiefs have a better defense and a very explosive offense behind Hill, Hunt, and Kelce. The Chiefs should prevent the Titans from scoring enough points to make this a tight match up. While I expect a good game, I also think Kansas City will return to New England after blowing them out to start the season.
Mark: Chiefs 31, Titans 24
Mariota puts the Titans on his back but comes up short, against an up and down Chiefs teams who find their groove and comes alive on offense. Kareem Hunt finds the end zone twice and Alex Smith leads a 2 minute drill to close the game out.
VERDICT: 7-1 Chiefs
#6 Atlanta Falcons vs. #3 Los Angeles Rams on Saturday @ 8:15PM EST
The Rams meet the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in their first postseason game since 2004…which was against the Falcons.
Jake: Rams 30, Falcons 20
The most exciting game of the week is going to offer a good matchup. In the end I think when you look at how many weapons the Rams have, how well their playing and how lost the Falcons look without Kyle Shanahan you wonder if this could be a blowout. I don’t think so, the Falcons did win last season 42-14 in this building. It will be close but Todd Gurley will close the door.
Blaine: Rams 31, Falcons 20
The Falcons are the defending NFC champions and have the experience. However, Rams have scored 25+ per game in their last five games that their starters played while the Falcons have scored under 25 per game in their last five games. Rams get their rematch with Minnesota.
Alex: Rams 31, Falcons 17
The Rams are rested and are ready to go to their first playoff game since 2004. The Falcons struggle forcing turnovers and the Rams have a good record when they win the turnover battle. The Falcons also have a banged up line, and I expect Aaron Donald to have a field day.
Gary: Rams 24, Falcons 10
I think this game will come down to which defense makes more plays and with the 2 best linemen for the Falcons not playing, it sets up very well for AD, Quinn, Brockers and crew to get to Matty Ice early and often.
James: Rams 34, Falcons 24
The Falcons have been so inconsistent this season, that it is difficult to predict which team the Rams will play. I will stick to what we can be sure of. The Falcons run a defense like what is run in Seattle and we know that Sean McVay can scheme the Rams in ways to attack that type of defense. Julio Jones is a beast, and paired with a receiving threat out of the backfield like Devonte Freeman, the Rams will have all they can handle on defense. When it comes down to it, the Falcons don’t have the offensive firepower, as they did last season, to keep with the Rams attack.
Nick: Rams 28, Falcons 17
The Rams continue their winning formula behind strong days from Gurley and Woods. The Rams pass rush gets Ryan off his game and minimizes Julio’s opportunities. The game doesn’t come down to Ficken as the Rams win by two scores
Joseph: Rams 28, Falcons 14
The Rams should be able to win their first playoff game in over a decade. The last time the Rams played in the playoffs it was a loss in Atlanta. This time should swing in the Rams favor. The Falcons will not be able to stop the rushing attack of LA. Atlanta relies on a strong pass rush from their young defense, but McVay will be prepared. Quick throws with short drop backs; play action, and screens should all be used to prevent Atlanta’s pass rush. The Rams will have to make sure to pay attention to Julio Jones, who can go off for multiple touchdowns and 100+ yards in any given game.
Mark: Rams 38, Falcons 10
A game that I’m too emotionally invested into but here we go….The national media seems to think the Rams don’t have the playoff experience to match up with Atlanta, this is where I tell you they have it all wrong. Forget records, forget age and forget about the fact that the Rams haven’t been to the playoffs in 14 years. The Los Angeles Rams come out and dominate the Falcons in all 3 phases making them look very much like a team that has the dreaded Super Bowl hangover. LA stuns Atlanta much like they did Seattle in week 15.
VERDICT: 8-0 Rams
#6 Buffalo Bills vs. #3 Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday @ 1:05PM EST
The Bills made it by the skin of their teeth, but regardless, they ended a 17-year playoff draught. No one can take that away. However, the Jaguars or rather Sacksonville plans on taking away the opportunity to play the Patriots in the AFC divisional round with their historic defense.
Jake: Bills 21, Jaguars 12
This one seems like a nightmare matchup for the Bills. However, I have my money on them. It’s a crazy year, the Jaguars haven’t looked great as of late and Tyrod Taylor does a great job of not turning the ball over. If the Jags can’t force Tyrod to turn the ball over the Bills will control this game.
Blaine: Jaguars 27, Bills 9
Bills have the feeling of a Cinderella team, but Jacksonville just overmatches them. A hurt LeSean McCoy doesn’t help.
Alex: Jaguars 24, Bills 9
These are two teams that haven’t played in a playoff game in a long time. The Jags have lost two straight, but that will end here. Andy Dalton can’t save the day this time.
Gary: Jaguars 27, Bills 14
Same problem as Titans for the Bills. Shady McCoy is not 100% which costs the Bills. But if Evil Bortles shows up, he might let the Bills hang around. In the end, Bortles gets it done with rushing and defense
James: Bills 20, Jaguars 17
The Bills Super Bowl was making the playoffs, but I’m not sure they’re done. The Jaguars have lost two games in a row to inferior competition, and now I think they make it a third. With the game on the line Blake Bortles hardly seems like the player that can lead his team to victory, and will likely continue to make costly turnovers. The Jags defense is loaded, but have been exposed at times this season against good offensive lines. Talent wise, the Jaguars are far superior to the lowly Bills, but the Bills are riding an emotional high that I believe will take them to Foxborough.
Nick: Jaguars 17, Bills 13
The Jags win a nail biter by one possession, thanks to the Sacksonville defense sealing it in the end. The Jags offense can’t muster much, but the defense adds a score and holds Shady McCoy & the Bills in check all day
Joseph: Jaguars 24, Bills 7
Congratulations to Buffalo for ending their extremely long playoff draught! However, I can’t see it going much further than the first round. Their only chance of winning is if Blake Bortles throws multiple interceptions and McCoy goes for two or more touchdowns. Jacksonville’s defense is elite and a serious threat to shut out this Buffalo offense, which is fairly average. The Jaguars should easily win this and get ready for a rematch in Pittsburgh.
Mark: Jaguars 23, Bills 10
In a game where Lesean McCoy isn’t gonna be 100 percent healthy, the Jags defense should be able to contain the Bills offense with ease. Bortles will struggle but Jacksonville will do enough in the run game to win, Fournette is just too much for Buffalo to handle. Sorry Bills fans.
VERDICT: 6-2 Jaguars
#5 Carolina Panthers vs. #4 New Orleans Saints on Sunday @ 4:40PM EST
The Saints are back in the playoffs and they come right into a home game and a revamped defense. It also helps Cam Newton is coming off his worst performance as a starting QB in his career.
Jake: Panthers 24, Saints 23
I really am not confident in Cam Newton. What I am confident in, is this Carolina defense. The lights are bright and perhaps we get a good game out of Cam but I expect the Panthers to steal one on the road and set up an easy road to the NFC Championship. One rule of thumb, you never want to play the same team three times in a season. Carolina has lost two but got closer last game. This is the one where they overcome it all.
Blaine: Saints 24, Panthers 13
Cam Newton couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn if he had tried last week. This postseason has the feel of a last hoorah for Drew Brees. Panthers have lost to the Saints twice already this season and I don’t expect that to change.
Alex: Saints 38, Panthers 10
Cam Newton is coming off of a career-worst performance against the Falcons. He looked lazy. It’s not a good time to be lazy. I think Brees and the Saints light the Panthers up.
Gary: Saints 34, Panthers 21
Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara will exploit the Panthers biggest weakness (not really a weakness) in run defense. Saints defense has surprised all year. Could come down to which Cam shows up.
James: Saints 30, Panthers 28
It would be nice to gush about how Cam Newton will roll right over the Saints, but he’s been inconsistent so often this year, that it’s a hard bet. No one on the Saints really wants to play the Panthers for a third time, and I think this will be the biggest slugfest of the weekend. The rookie running backs, Kamara and McCaffrey are going to take backseats in this one as each team tries to neutralize them. Cam Newton will throw a late pick to Marshon Lattimore, and Drew Brees will lead the Saints on a game winning drive.
Nick: Panthers 24, Saints 21
Newton and the Panthers get rolling against an overrated Saints defense. The underrated Panthers D is able to limit Kamara and Ingram, forcing Brees into too many obvious passing situations. Panthers win by less than a possession after a late Saints comeback attempt
Joseph: Panthers 31, Saints 28
In what may be the only upset in the weekend, Carolina will be able to get their first victory against New Orleans this season. It is extremely difficult to beat a team three times in one season, but the Saints sure do have a chance. The reason I favor the Panthers here is because Carolina is able to get it done even when Cam does not play great. Their defense knows New Orleans well and should work to limit Brees from have an explosive showing. If they can contain the Saints offense and play their own brand of offense they should be able to play off the upset and go into Philadelphia with momentum.
Mark: Saints 27, Panthers 14
A division rematch, this game should come down to whoever protects the football and who wins the time of possession. Both teams can run the ball well but New Orleans can do it better. Alvin Kamara shows out in his first career playoff game while Mark Ingram chews the clock in the fourth qtr. Another close one but Cam Newton turns the ball over and Carolina can’t keep up.
VERDICT: 5-3 Saints