NFL Playoff Matchups - Wild Card Week
January 9, 2020
The NFL regular season is finally over and this weekend is the start of the wild-card playoff round. Here are the matchups and predictions:
Buffalo Bills (10-6) at Houston Texans (10-6) Saturday, 1:35 p.m. PT Point spread: Texans, -3 points
This will be the battle of two young quarterbacks. Deshaun Watson will lead the Texans and Josh Allen will lead the Bills. On paper, the Bills are the better team. The Bills have the No. 3 defense in the NFL, the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL and the No. 8 rushing offense in the NFL. Allen has a rocket arm capable of making big plays.
Both quarterbacks make plays with their feet. Allen rushed for 510 yards and nine touchdowns. Watson rushed for 413 yards and seven touchdowns. Watson has proven to be a magician at times in avoiding sacks and making plays with his arm. This should be a tight game but at the end, the better, more consistent team should win this game. Final Score: Buffalo 26, Houston 23.
Tennessee Titans vs New England Patriots Saturday, 5:15 p.m. PT Point spread: Patriots, -4.5 points
The Patriots have spent the season living off their opponent's mistakes. The Pats were second in the NFL in takeaways at 36 and No. 1 in turnover ratio at a +21. They are also the No. 1 ranked defensive team in the NFL. Their defense will face a challenge this weekend at home against the Titans offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry lead a resurgent offense that is averaging 33 points per game over the past seven weeks.
The prediction is that the Pats defense will make the necessary adjustments at home on defense to slow down the Titans. While the talk is that Tom Brady has slipped, he threw for over 4,000 yards in 2019 for the 11th time in his career. He should have a good night against a passing defense that ranked 24th in the NFL in 2019. Final Score: New England 30, Tennessee 17.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints Sunday, 10:05 a.m. PT Point spread: Saints, -8 points
The Saints have won three in a row and six of their last seven games. Over the past seven games, they have averaged 36 points per game. The Vikings have struggled the past two weeks, scoring only 29 points in two games without running back Dalvin Cook. Cook is expected to be back this weekend. But the Saints have the 4th best rushing defense in the NFL and they are 3rd in the NFL with 51 sacks.
Expect the Saints to exact some payback for their playoff loss to the Vikings in 2018. The Saints are very tough to beat at home. Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is an excellent play action passer when the running game works, but it will struggle against the tough Saints run defense. Final Score: New Orleans 38, Minnesota 17.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, 1:40 p.m. PT Point spread: Seahawks, -2 points
Beast Mode is back. Running back Marshawn Lynch has returned from retirement and just in time. With the loss of their top three running backs to injuries, Lynch was needed. Along with Travis Homer, he gives the Seahawks a respectable running game and that is all they will need to beat the Eagles. The Seahawks defeat the Eagles 17-9 earlier this season in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have won four straight going into this game, all over NFC East teams. This will be different. The Eagles have too many injuries too overcome the Seahawks. The Eagles deserve a lot of credit for winning their last four games and winning the division, but they are not prepared to beat an 11-5 Seahawks team. Final Score: Seattle 24, Philadelphia 13.