SPORTSNFL Wild Card Preview

The longest NFL regular season in history is in the books, and the playoffs are finally here. While traditionalists understandably have a gripe with the disruption to the stats and concerns for player safety; the league’s unquestioned push for more revenue sure paid off in an exciting week 18. Like The Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, here at Jeawok we pointed to the Raiders Chargers game being the grandest of the year. By the...
Collin Chute4 months ago13814 min
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The longest NFL regular season in history is in the books, and the playoffs are finally here. While traditionalists understandably have a gripe with the disruption to the stats and concerns for player safety; the league’s unquestioned push for more revenue sure paid off in an exciting week 18. Like The Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, here at Jeawok we pointed to the Raiders Chargers game being the grandest of the year. By the time Daniel Carlson walked off with the overtime-winning field goal and Charger’s heart in hand, it was without a doubt the most thrilling game of the season. Can the Raiders carry momentum into the playoffs, or are they gassed out? Let’s get into the Wild Card matchups and predictions!

 

Raiders @ Bengals Cincinnati, OH 

Sat. 1:30pm PST

Line: CIN -5.5 

O/U 49

 

The Raiders thwarted the heroic comeback by Justin Herbert last week, giving themselves a playoff berth for just the 2nd time since their Super Bowl loss to the Bucs in 2002. While I love their resiliency through a tumultuous season after losing head coach John Gruden, I think this is more of the Bengals moment to shine. Their offense is extremely dangerous with Joe Burrow slinging the rock to former LSU teammate and soon-to-be Rookie of the Year player in Ja’Marr Chase. Tee Higgins also has over 1000 yards (yeah but there were 17 games!) and Joe Mixon is playing like a top 5 back in the league.  

Key Match-up: Raiders D-line vs. Bengals O-Line

The one area where Las Vegas has a tremendous advantage is upfront. Their D-Line has been more than disruptive, and if they can pressure Burrow early and get him into 3rd and long, then we will be in for a 4 quarter fight. 

Prediction: Bengals 27 Raiders 20 

 

Patriots @ Bills Orchard Park, NY

Sat. 5:15pm PST

Line: Buf -4

O/U: 44

 

The Bills have absolutely been tormented by the Patriots this century, and now they finally have them right where they want them. To lose this game, would be more than devastating. Tom Brady is finally gone, but the Pats have overachieved all season thanks to arguably the GOAT of coaching, Bill Belichick. Having already won in a windy Buffalo this year, anything can happen on a game day where temperatures will remain in the single digits. 

Key Match-up: Pats Secondary vs. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs 

The Patriot’s secondary is always well-coached, and that is no different this year. It’s a challenge to stop the Bills through the air, but with frigid air, and a tight secondary, the Patriots could make things very close. I would expect the Patriots to try and control the clock and give Allen as few opportunities as possible. 

Prediction: Bills 24 Patriots 20

 

Eagles @ Buccaneers Tampa, FL 

Sun. 10am PST

Line: TB -8.5

O/U: 46

 

The defending Super Bowl champions come in as heavy favorites over the Eagles who pushed passed expectations this year. Even with Antonio Brown gone and Chris Godwin on injured reserve, it is hard to bet against Tom Brady. The Eagles secondary has been vulnerable all year and they’ll have to come up with an A+ game on Sunday to compete. 

Key Match-up: Eagles run game vs. the Bucs D-Line

While Tom Brady elevated the Bucs to championship contenders, it was the defense that separated them from the pack last year, which was most evident in the way they shut down the Chiefs in the title game. Still 5th in points allowed, the run defense has been only average. Philly is 1st in rushing yards per game, in large part thanks to the versatility of Jalen Hurts. Just the threat of him taking off on a read-option or RPO can open up major lanes for the backs as well as space to throw up the seams to tight end Dallas Goedert. Possession is key for Philly in order to shorten the game. 

Prediction: Buccaneers 34 Eagles 21

 

49ers @ Cowboys Arlington, TX 

Sun. 1:30pm PST

Line: Dal -3

O/U 51

 

The most intriguing match-up of the weekend will be when these two classic NFC opponents square off against each other in the playoffs for the first time since they met in the NFC Championship game in 1994. Both teams are playing well at the right time as the 9ers have won 7 of their last 9 games. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott has had 13tds and 0 INTs in the past month. 

Key Match-up: Kyle Shanahan vs. Dan Quinn. 

It’s been 5 years since these two coaches squandered a 25 point Super Bowl lead away together with the Atlanta Falcons. Both coaches are on top of their game, and this is the chess match we are all looking for. If the 49ers can establish that dynamic Shanahan rushing attack against an intimidating defensive line in Dallas, it could really open up the passing game. Jimmy G needs that kind of balance and to protect the football at all costs to keep this game close. 

Prediction: Dallas 27 San Francisco 24

 

Steelers @ Chiefs Kansas City, MO

Sun. 5:15pm PST

Line: KC -12.5

O/U 46

 

Thanks to the victories in their last two games and the winner take all attitude of the Raiders, the Steelers were able to slip into the playoffs for Big Ben’s rumored last year as their Franchise QB. The focus and effort will be there for Pittsburgh, which makes the -12.5 line enticing. 

Key Match-up: Steelers Secondary vs. Mahomes

The Steelers strong suit is in their pass defense, and they will need to play exceptional to keep the potent Chief’s offense in check. The Pittsburgh offense needs all the help they can get as they are only averaging 20.2 points a game. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have found their stride and are 4th in points scored. Look for Mahomes and the creativity of Andy Reid to provide the final curtain call for Big Ben.  

Prediction: Chiefs 37 Steelers 28 

 

Cardinals @ Rams Inglewood, CA 

Mon. 5:15pm PST

Line: LAR -4

O/U 49.5

 

The Cardinals were the team to beat through the first half of the year, but have lost a lot of confidence at the wrong time, falling short in 4 of their last 5 games including a 23-30 loss to LA. The Rams slipped last week, but are 5 of 6 heading into the battle against their NFC West rival. Prepare for a track meet of elite speed and talent on Monday night inside the Rams’ new stadium, where the Super Bowl will be hosted this year. 

Key Match-up: Kyler Murray vs. an injured Rams Secondary 

Stand out safety and defensive signal-caller Jordan Fuller is done with an injury, and legend Eric Weddle has come out of retirement to aid some inexperienced safteys. Jalen Ramsey is more than capable of leading the defense, but shifting pieces should open up things for that lethal Cards passing attack. 

Prediction: Rams 38 Cardinals 35

 

Collin Chute

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