DAR Sports: NFL Wild Card Preview

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Are you ready for some football? It is about that time yet again, as the NFL playoff season is beginning and of course, the wild card round kicks things off. Admittedly, one of these games, or two, depending on how you feel, seem to be a bit underwhelming due to injury and such, but for the most part, this should be a great weekend of football for us all. 8 teams are playing for the chance to make it to the divisional round and get a shot at the top two seeds in their respective conference. Who will walk away with victories this week? Who grabs momentum and moves into the next round? Can the Raiders go far without Derek Carr? Can Brock Osweiler redeem himself after a rather uneventful year and getting benched? Can the Lions overcome a huge challenge? Is Aaron Rodgers catching fire at the right time? Well, the team has gathered with a slightly different format than our regular weekly NFL predictions and all these things will be discussed and more. Let's get into it.

*AFC Wild Card Games
-These AFC games are admittedly a bit underwhelming for me personally. Being that I (TrueGodImmortal) am a Broncos fan, I'm a little disappointed that we JUST missed the playoffs and I was pulling for the Titans to get into the playoffs just so I can see Marcus Mariota have a playoff game. However, when the Titans lost Mariota to a brutal injury, and the Texans won the division, many were disappointed. The same could be said for the Raiders dropping out of the first seed in the AFC West and losing the division after leading it for weeks, not to mention the drastic injury to Derek Carr. While the AFC lineup for the wild card isn't the greatest necessarily, the potential for good games and great football is always there. Let's take a look at the AFC picture.

Saturday, January 7th 
(4) Houston Texans vs (5) Oakland Raiders 

-I was pulling for the Raiders, but without Derek Carr in at QB, the dream season will come crashing to an end here. On the road, without the most valuable player on their team, and a shaky defense at times, the Raiders could pull off an upset, but their 12 win season seems poised to go down the drain sooner or later. I don't expect big things from Brock Osweiler in this game, but I expect the Texans to pull a slow yet decisive victory over the Raiders, probably along the lines of a 14-7 win. My pick to win this one is Houston.

Texans over Raiders 
-This game is ruined by Derek Carr's injury and the return of Brock "The 72 Million Dollar Trash Can" Osweiler. Fuck this game.

Texans > Raiders
-This will be the game nobody cares about since the Texans are playing, and Derek Carr is hurt. This will be a defensive game, and the Texans have an advantage on that end. Key players to watch in this one are Khalil Mack and Brock Osweiler.

-This is by far is the ugliest game of the postseason. The battle of a rookie QB and an overpaid backup. With that being said, it should still be a close game. Losing Derek Carr hurts the Raiders because he's the best offensive player and the leader of this team. If he were healthy, I would have Raiders as the overwhelming favorite. Houston will stack the box against the Raiders and will force rookie Connor Cook to beat them. With Clowney playing to his #1 draft status (he also had a great year in 2015 when healthy), the Texans will get to Cook early and often. All Osweiler has to do is hand the ball to the RB and limit turnovers. Actually that's what both teams have to do offensively, which will lead to an eye sore for the fans.
Houston wins.

Oakland over Houston
-This game is really a toss up given Oakland is starting a rookie QB and the defense for some reason seem to have problems right now. However, I still have the Raiders winning this one. I think they'll get their act together to knock off the Texans. We'll see the pass rush get to disrupt the Texans passing game. A key player to watch in this one is Connor Cook, making his first career NFL start in a playoff game on the road. A lot of what the offense can do hinges on him.

Sunday, January 8th 
(3) Pittsburgh Steelers vs (6) Miami Dolphins 

-This one should have been the Broncos vs the Steelers, but I digress. The Dolphins shocked the world when they made into the players, and they've played pretty well for the most part this season. They actually play the Steelers very well and could pull off a slight upset victory here. I don't have faith in this up and down Steelers team, and while I'm a fan of Antonio Brown, something leads me to believe that the Dolphins will manage to squeeze out a victory in this one and set up a Patriots vs Dolphins divisional round game, which could be the Dolphins' revenge. Or, we could see the Steelers get the win, and go into Kansas City to take on the Chiefs. My money is on the Dolphins in a close 20-17 win that comes down to a big Jay Ayayi run and a game winning field goal.

Dolphins over Steelers
-I'm going with the upset here. The Steelers run defense is average and Matt Moore has actually played better than Tannehill. Jay Ajayi might have himself a game.

-Last time they played, Miami ran the ball down the Steelers' throats. I don't think that will be case this time around. This game is gonna come down to better QB play and Big Ben is by far the better QB. I think Pittsburgh will run the ball well, Bell and Brown will make great plays. If Tannehill was playing, I would still see Miami losing as I just don't think they can match up with Pittsburgh's firepower.
Steelers win. 

Dolphins > Steelers
-I don't trust the Steelers in the playoffs with Big Ben at QB. Yes, he's a great quarterback, but everyone knows about his playoffs struggles. I see the Dolphins winning in an upset with Devante Parker and Cameron Wake both having big games.
Key players to watch are Cameron Wake and Antonio Brown.

Pittsburgh over Miami
-Believe it or not, this game will be a pretty good one. However I have the Steelers in this one. Too many weapons for that Dolphins defense to contain. I think Pittsburgh pulls away in the 4th. Key player for this game is Sammie Coates, as he will be a guy to watch in this one. We know Antonio Brown will get a lot of attention, so this will open up Coates here. I think he'll have a pretty good game against Miami.

*NFC Wild Card Games
With the Cowboys and the Falcons getting the bye to the divisional round, these four teams are all in prime position to make something happen, since we all have our doubts about the Cowboys and Falcons in the postseason. It'll be interesting to see how these wildcard games play out, and who will face the Cowboys and Falcons.

Saturday, January 7th 
(3) Seattle Seahawks vs (6)
Detroit Lions 

-I really have no concern for this game like that, but I think it'll be interesting to see who gets the W because I don't see either team beating the Cowboys or Falcons in the next round, depending on who takes this game. Matthew Stafford is still a bit hurt so he could get wrecked by the Seahawks defense or he could show up like the Stafford that led the Lions to the playoffs. If he does, the Seahawks are in trouble. However, I have the Seahawks in a close game, 23-20.

Seahawks over Lions
-The White Wizard Zach Zenner will not save the Lions this time. Seahawks will handle them pretty easily until the Lions try to make a last ditch comeback that falls short.

Seattle over Detroit
-Plain and simple, Seattle is overall a better team than Detroit. I believe Detroit will put up a fight in this game, but in the end, I just don't see Seattle losing this game. Key player in this one really? Matt Stafford. Only true way Detroit will stay in this game or win it is if Matt Stafford is on his A game. He'll have a tall task passing against a pretty good Seattle secondary and hoping his line can hold off the Seahawks pass rush.

Seahawks > Lions
Seattle is not as good as previous years, but they're still very dominant at home. No way they lose this game. Key players to watch in this one are Thomas Rawls and Matthew Stafford.

This game has the setup to be a blowout and I think it will be just that Saturday night. The Lions have the worst defense overall and they are in the bottom half against the run. Seattle hasn't been as dominant as in the past, but they are still a strong and perennial contender. Russell Wilson threw for just one pick and about 6 TDs in his last 3-4 games, so he's catching fire at the right time. Stafford has a bad finger injury and I think it will force Detroit to run the ball, which is a weakness of theirs. The 12th man will make it uncomfortable for Detroit, who will still be without a playoff win in years.
Seattle wins.

Sunday, January 8th 
(4) Green Bay Packers vs (5) New York Giants

-This is the game I'm most looking forward to and my personal pick to win this possible classic is based on one thing and one thing only: Aaron Rodgers. Finding that MVP form that we know he has, he took the Packers from seeming like a lock for missing the playoffs to winning the NFC North division and earning the homefield advantage in this game. The Giants aren't a slouch and I see them putting up one hell of a fight, but if Rodgers is in full AR12 mode, he will be tough to stop, even with the Giants defense being so tough. I think Eli will slip up a few times and despite his history of wins in Green Bay, I have the Packers taking it 24-14.

Packers over Giants
-As much as I love the Giants for ending the Washington Racial Slurs' season, this boils down to one thing: which of the "Insanely good when they're hot" QBs is gonna play the best? Aaron. The answer is always Aaron.

Giants > Packers
-Yes. The Packers are hot, but we all know the history the Giants have in Green Bay. You'd be dumb not to take New York here based on history. Key players to watch will be the NYG defense, Odell Beckham Jr, and of course Aaron Rodgers.

-While my hometown team, the Baltimore Ravens seem to not know what they're doing, I still find solace in the Giants. I wish everyone would shut up about the WR's going to Miami and partying like its going to guarantee a loss. It was an off day and everyone made it on time for practice the rest of the week. Now, Green Bay is the hottest team in the league as they capped off 6 straight to win the division. Rodgers is hot and looks to be in zone which have many already thinking they will win. However, the Giants have been playing top 10 defense and they finally can move the ball with Paul Perkins in the backfield. That is a winning formula coupled with the fact that Eli has 2 road wins in Lambeau en route to his 2 SB titles. Let's not forget that  Green Bay has an ultra thin secondary that wasn't that good all season, so Odell will make quick work of them. This is a more even game than most will realize, but the Giants will pull it out.
Giants win. 

NY Giants over Green Bay
-Now THIS game is going to be a treat to watch. Both of these teams are playing well at just the right time. I have the Giants coming away with the win in this game. I think offensively the Giants will have complete success moving the ball and the defense will have a pretty strong game against Rodgers and the Packers. The key Player in this one is without a doubt Eli Manning. It's like this, if Manning plays well then Giants are deadly to stop, but if Eli plays poor then the Giants look like a middle school football team. This game hinges on Eli.

Who will be victorious? It's almost time to find out. Let's get ready for the playoffs!



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