2019 NFL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: WILD-CARD ROUND
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Why Houston wins: Houston split the season series with AFC South-rival Indianapolis, with each game being decided by three points. The teams seem to be equally as explosive on offense, as Indianapolis finished fifth in the league in points (27.1) while Houston checked in at 11th (25.1). However, the Texans boast the better defense, with marquee names who have playoff experience filling out all three levels. Though the Colts’ offensive line has done something it’s never done by keeping Andrew Luck healthy and upright, the Texans’ defensive line features surefire Hall of Famer J.J. Watt, who tallied 16.0 sacks and is making a play for Comeback Player of the Year and do-it-all defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who should be seeing a big bag this offseason. Upright might not be the adjective to describe Luck on Saturday with those two beasts rushing the edge. The Colts could hang with the Texans for a few rounds, but when it comes down to it, the Texans pack more of a punch.
Why Indianapolis wins: T.Y. Hilton is your typical player from the city of Miami, a dog with a whole lotta speed. With that being said, the wideout has consistently torched the Texans, registering 41 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games in Houston. On the defensive side of the ball, Indianapolis boasts a bunch of overachievers and budding superstar Darius Leonard, who led the league in tackles (163) as a rookie. With Leonard mucking up the run game and the Colts taking advantage of a putrid Houston offensive line, don’t be surprised if Stafford, Texas-native Andrew Luck comes back to the Lone Star State and wraps up a W.
Who Actually Wins: Houston 31-22
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
Why Dallas wins: Rod Marinelli’s defensive unit is fast, physical and incredibly stingy. They finished the regular season ranked fifth in rushing yards allowed (82.7) and sixth in the NFL in points allowed (20.3). With that being said, the Seahawks boasts the league’s best rushing attack (2,560 yards), thanks to the four-headed monster of Chris Carson, Mike Davis, Rashaad Penny and Russell Wilson aka 1980s “Thriller Mike Jack.” Despite Seattle’s ability to wear down opponents with multiple fresh-legged runners, the Cowboys have the advantage here with Hennessy spokesman and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods leading a stout interior defensive line and Sean Lee, who returned for the regular season finale after missing multiple games, playing alongside Pro Bowl SNUBS Jaylon Smith (Pro Football Focus’ Breakout Player of the Year) and Leighton Vander Esch, giving the Cowboys the NFL’s fastest linebacking core.
Dallas’ passing attack averaged a lowly 183.1 passing yards in its first seven outings. Since the acquisition of Pro Bowl pass catcher Amari Cooper, the team is averaging 250.8 and is 7-2. With Seattle’s best cornerback, Shaquill Griffin, doubtful for the wild-card matchup, Cooper should have a field day. With a heavy dose of Zeke running behind a Cowboys offensive line that’s at its healthiest of the season, mixed with some play-action splash plays, Dallas should be able to exploit the secondary and feast on Seahawk.
Why Seattle wins: Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are 8-4 in the playoffs, with two trips to the Super Bowl, including one victory. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for a Seattle team who saw the disintegration of the Legion of Boom and lost Earl Thomas to a season-ending injury, but with Wilson at the helm, Seattle always has a chance. The Seahawks won the meeting between the two teams in Week 3, handily beating Dallas 24-13 and forcing three turnovers. If the defense plays like it did in their aforementioned outing and is able to capitalize on Dallas mishaps, there’s a high probability the Seahawks go down to “Big D” and sweep the Cowboys.
Who Actually Wins: Cowboys 17-14
LA Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
Why Baltimore wins: The Ravens are arguably the hottest team in football, winning six of their last seven games, including a road victory against the Chargers in Week 16 during which they showed the blueprint to beating Philip Rivers and Co. -- force the quarterback into mistakes by disguising looks whilst bringing pressure and control the clock with a steady run game, mitigating the effects of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. With that being said, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson has the ability to take advantage of Los Angeles if they decide to put too many players in the box -- he did in Week 16, when he posted his first 200-yard passing game -- and has shown to be at his best in some of the game’s most crucial moments. Ravens win pt. 2 in the same fashion they won pt.1 .
Why LA wins: Melvin Gordon wasn’t much of a factor in Week 16, when the Chargers lost to the Ravens, 22-16. With a healthy Gordon and tight end Hunter Henry returning to the field for the the first time in 2018 -- he missed the regular season with a Torn ACL -- Los Angeles finally has a fully-stocked cabinet of weapons for Philip Rivers to play with -- this means more high-percentage throws and less risky heaves downfield. While the playbook opens up offensively, the defense has the advantage of having played Baltimore before and should be more prepared for its Navy-like attack. 25 points should be the magic number for Los Angeles.
Who Actually Wins: Baltimore 23-18
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Why Philadelphia wins: Anything is possible with Big D--- Nick Foles running the show in Philadelphia. He led the team to its first title in 2017, and took over for Carson Wentz at the end of 2018, spearheading them to three straight victories while setting a franchise record for passing yards (477) during a win against the Texans (Week 15) and tying the NFL record for consecutive completions (25) against the Redskins to close out the season and lift Philly into the playoffs.”Back Against the Wall” Nick Foles is insane and could be the catalyst behind an insane wild-card upset. Philly loves its underdog stories, and this could be the makings of Rocky 0823108314 x Invincible.
Why Chicago wins: Philadelphia’s offensive line has been shuffling parts throughout the year. They have no running game. And the Eagles’ secondary isn’t anything to right home about. On the flip side, the Bears’ passing attack isn’t the world’s best, but it’s creative enough to take advantage of the Eagles’ injuries and features a pretty damn good pass catcher in Allen Robinson. Their defensive line and secondary boasts a trio of Pro Bowl players, including Khalil Mack, (the league’s second-best pass rusher) Kyle Fuller, (who led the league in picks) and Eddie Jackson, (a ball hawk who specializes in stealing passes out of the sky and taking ‘em to the crib). And this Bears squad is the first team since the 2006 Ravens to record at least 45 sacks and 25 interceptions in a sesaon. Play John Madden x Chief Keef in the locker room, gotta celebrate the victory right.
Who Actually Wins: Chicago 24-14