Wild-card weekend predictions

Posted on January 15, 2022

The NFL playoffs are finally here, and the Eagles will look to continue their surprising 2021 campaign by overcoming Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.

Of course, the Birds aren’t the only team playing this weekend. There are a number of juicy matchups, two in the form of division rivalries. So instead of just predicting the Eagles score, Alicia and Drew have decided to make a competition in spirit of the playoffs and call every game.

Who will win, and who will look utterly stupid when their scores are off by 20? Let’s find out!

Oakland Raiders (10-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)Saturday, 4:30 PM, NBC
New England Patriots (10-7) @ Buffalo Bills (11-6)Saturday, 8:15 PM, CBS
Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)Sunday, 1:00 PM, FOX
San Francisco 49ers (10-7) @ Dallas Cowboys (12-5)Sunday, 4:30 PM, CBS
Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)Sunday, 8:15 PM, NBC
Arizona Cardinals (11-6) @ Los Angeles Rams (12-5)Monday, 8:15 PM, ESPN


Drew: Bengals 34-23

The Raiders just finished up a pretty solid season, all things considered. They’ve overcome a gruesome head coaching scandal, multiple DUIs, injuries, and a tough division. Meanwhile, the Bengals are on a roll – Joe Burrow’s thrown for eight touchdowns and 971 yards in his past two games, and his receiving core of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins have come up big.

Oakland has been tough against the pass – they’re 11th-best in total passing yards allowed (3,996) and third in yards per reception (10). That’s where Cincy is going to need to succeed, as despite Joe Mixon’s presence, their rushing as been average at best. Ultimately, I think they do. The Bengals tout the weapons the Raiders are lacking, and that plays a big role in the end.

Alicia: Bengals 27-21

The Las Vegas Raiders have had a lucky season. Though they’ve won their last four consecutive games, they’ve only done so by four or less points. The Cincinnati Bengals on the other hand clinched the AFC North before Week 18, allowing them to rest Joe Burrow before today’s game.

I think both teams here rely on their pass game, given that neither rush offense is strong. The Raiders rank 17th in passing, with the Bengals ranking 15th. The game will come down to which defense can ultimately play better.


Drew: Bills 17-14

It’s going to be a miserable night in Buffalo. Temperatures are suppose to drop down into the single digits. The Patriots seem ready to rely on their rushing attack, while the Bills will let Josh Allen do his thing in order to move the team down the field.

If there’s any playoff game I could see as 50/50, it’d be this one. Bill Belichick is dangerous in the playoffs, and even with Buffalo as the better team, coaching plays a huge hand in victories this team of year. However, I like the Bills’ chances. Buffalo is allowing 109.8 rushing yards a game, good for 13th in the NFL, while they’re first in pass defense – with NE right behind them. It’ll be a low scoring duel, but the Bills move on.

Alicia: Bills 20-17

Some are calling the Patriots/Bills game the biggest game of Wild Card weekend. The two teams played each other in Week 16 with the Bills coming out victorious (33-21), and I think they go 2-for-2.

Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen has had some accuracy issues recently, completing only 49.3% of passes over their last two games. But, the Bills still won those games. I don’t think Allen walks into this game doing a complete 180, but I don’t think fans will see him struggle as he did in previous weeks.

Statistically both teams are a close matchup in terms of passing and rushing offense, with the Bills just slightly ahead. However, they differ in their rushing defense which will be the distinction between a win and loss today.


Drew: 49ers 27-17

This should be a close game. Dallas is currently favored by -3, and they’re 5-1 ATS when they’re favorited in their last six games. However, San Francisco is 6-3 on the road this season. Deebo Samuel (1,405 receiving yards) should given Trevon Diggs a run for his money.

SF’s defense always matches up well against the Cowboy’s passing attack. The 49ers are allowing just 206.5 receiving yards a game against their opponents, sixth-best in the NFL. They’re also allowing just 103.5 rushing yards a game, seventh-best in the league. Dak Prescott will struggle to find Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb for sizable gains, while Ezekiel Elliott flounders in the run game.

Let the sea of red commence at Jerry World.

Alicia: 49ers 30-21

The Cowboys may be the most-hated team in the league, so no one wants to see them win this game. After Prescott’s injury last season, he’s come back and performed well, but I don’t think they make it out of this game alive.

Over the last few weeks, the Cowboys have come out victorious, but they did so against a banged up Washington team, the Giants who haven’t had a winning record in the last five seasons, and the Eagles who played with all backups and practice squad members. Sure it may have given Dallas come confidence, but I think the 49ers will out-play them.

Two of San Fran’s greatest strengths are running the ball and rushing the passer which is where Dallas struggles, relying on turnovers. The 49ers’ defense have also held their last five opponents to 25 or less points — make it six opponents after today.

At least after the game we won’t have to listen to Dallas’ fans anymore.


Drew: Eagles 24-21

My mind says Buccaneers, but my heart says Eagles. Even with the odds stacked against them, this team hasn’t shown much quit (even if their first half performances say otherwise). Tom Brady will be lacking both Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, leaving him with a less than desirable

The weather is looking crummy, which could work in the Eagles’ favor by allowing them to lean on the run game, which has been their strong point all season long. That area will be boosted by the return of Miles Sanders.

The key will be how Jalen Hurts and the defense performs. On offense, Hurts needs to be productive with both his long ball and rushing, while the defense needs to be able to get to Brady – or else he’ll tear them up like he tends to. I expect Josh Sweat to be the one to step up when the going gets tough (my hot take is he ends the day with two sacks).

So, get your dog masks out of the attic, because the Birds are moving onto the Divisional Round.

Alicia: Eagles 27-24

The Buccaneers are 8-point favorites, but I think people fail to realize how close this game will actually be.

Both teams played each other in Week 6 with Tampa Bay taking the win 28-22, but the Eagles have come a long way since then. After going 2-5, they won seven of their last ten games, relying heavily on their rush game, and getting better accuracy out of Jalen Hurts.

Philadelphia should continue to run the ball. Sanders will return after a hand injury, and Sirianni would be smart to play Scott who has had an equally good (if not better season if you look at touchdowns/yards) despite playing less.

Tampa Bay is down Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and likely Cyril Grayson, but they still have immense weapons in Gronk and Fournette. The key to an Eagles’ win will be their defense. It’s been shaky this season, but there’s no time like the present to make a comeback.

I think Philadelphia starts the game in true Eagles fashion — trailing. But, they will make up for it. The underdogs advance, and Tom Brady leaves the field like the predictable sore loser that he is.


Drew: Chiefs 28-14

I think Kansas City comes out and hits Pittsburgh fast and hard. Every time someone seems to doubt Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, they come right back and show why they’ve been the premiere team for the last couple seasons. They’re also 6-2 in the playoffs the last three seasons, so betting on a first round exit for them would be pretty risky.

Big Ben has been pretty putrid the last three games, touting a QB rating of 68.9 with three interceptions. While the KC defense hasn’t been amazing, it certainly won’t slouch in this situation. If there’s a weak link on the Steelers, it’s him, and it’s kind of a shame. If they had a better QB this season, maybe things would be different. Alas, it’s the end of the line for the former Super-Bowl champion.

Alicia: Chiefs 31-17

The Chiefs had a weird start to their season, losing to many teams that fans thought they would have beat. But, they’ve pulled it together, winning nine of their last ten games. The Steelers on the other hand, have won five of their last ten, taking a tie to the Detroit Lions — the worst team in the league this season.

The key to Kansas City winning this game will be their rush offense. They are averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season and Pittsburgh is dead last in the run defense, allowing 146.1 yards per game.

At least Roethlisberger can say he made it to the playoffs before retiring.


Drew: Rams 24-16

The Cardinals don’t impress me. Kyler Murray has struggled heavily against Los Angeles throughout his career – he’s just 1-5 against them with a QB rating of 81.8 (along with seven touchdowns and six interceptions). Without DeAndre Hopkins and a not 100% James Connor, this is an offense that could struggle to get much going, at least early on. However, I do think fan favorite Zach Ertz could prove a big decider in the matchup – he’s become a relevant target for Murray, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had another two-score game.

Meanwhile, the Rams were built for the postseason. Matt Stafford overcomes his late season slump and goes off with his favorite WR, Cooper Kupp. Meanwhile, LA’s defense comes up big with Aaron Donald leading the way and stopping Murray — once again — in his tracks.

Alicia: Cardinals 31-28

The Rams have been tough this season, and Eagles fans were nervous for a potential LA-Philly matchup so the Cardinals will be a much better contender.

LA’s quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Cooper Kupp have been unstoppable, racking up 123 yards together in their Week 14 win over the Cardainls. Stafford is third in the league in passing yards and Kupp is leading in receiving yards. However, I think Arizona learns from their mistakes and comes back to win Monday night’s game.

The Cardinals are 6-0 against the spread this season and 8-1 against the spread on the road. They clearly do well under pressure and I think Kyler Murray goes into his first playoff game cool and collected.

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Drew Rhoades

If there’s one thing you need to know about Drew Rhoades, it’s that he knows Philadelphia sports. A graduate from Saint Joseph’s University, Rhoades has previously written about Hawk sports for The Hawk Newspaper and covered baseball at Phillies Nation. In his spare time, he loves to volunteer at his local animal shelter and bike.

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