NFL Wild Card Predictions


Aiden Gromley, Staff Writer

As the NFL playoffs are set to begin, Wild Card Weekend brings a ton of surprise teams and super star teams back to the table. With many teams shocking fans like the New York Giants, the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and even the Jacksonville Jaguars, these six games bring along with them heavy anticipation to keep pushing forward in playoff contention. But with super teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills, it will be hard for these stunner teams to make a deep run if they lack the star power to contain great players.

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Prediction: 49ers win 35-24

Seattle came into this year as a rebuilding team with little-to-no hopes into making the playoffs after trading away then star quarterback Russell Wilson. But with the emergence of Geno Smith, it allowed for a spark in the team and helped carry them into the playoffs (with a little help from the Detroit Lions beating the Green Bay Packers). But even with those sparks, the team has multiple starters on both offense and defense on the IR that could play a huge factor in the game on Saturday.

Meanwhile rookie Brock Purdy has  stepped in as a new quarterback for the 49ers and has helped propel them into the second seed in the NFC. Purdy has elevated the offense for the past few weeks in the regular season, coming in as a third string quarterback and has them posed for a deep postseason run. But lack of experience in the playoffs affects both of these teams’ quarterbacks. Although Geno Smith has more general experience than Purdy, with many key pieces out for Seattle’s defense, it’s hard to see them defeating one of the best offenses in the league, led by “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Prediction: Jaguars win 28-24

Although the Jaguars do not have the higher seed or the better talented roster, head coach Doug Pederson brings a lot of experience to the table in the playoffs and an advantage over Chargers head coach Brandon Staley. Pederson has led a team to the Super Bowl before, whereas the furthest Staley has ever gone was the divisional championship game, but he was a defensive coordinator in that era. Although the coaching comparison may seem far, the roster of the Chargers make up for their lack of great coaching. This match up not only involves two great upcoming quarterbacks in Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert, but the Chargers bring star power in the names of Khalil Mack, Keenan Allen, JC Jackson, and Austin Ekeler. But even with a clear cut talented roster, the Chargers may be without star wide receiver Mike Williams and defensive end Joey Bosa. In a tightly contested game, I have Doug Pederson out-coaching Brandon Staley, and Trevor Lawrence leading the Jaguars to victory in a closely contested game.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

Prediction: Bills win 35-14

Now if we put Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in this game at the quarterback position, I truly believe that it would be a closer game, and maybe the Dolphins could even win it, guided by their star receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Without him, it’s hard for me to see Skylar Thompson leading the Dolphins to victory after failing to score a touchdown against the Jets. The Bills, led by Josh Allen at quarterback, have so much power on both sides of the ball to which I do not believe that the Dolphins will be able to contain. With Miami having to guard Stefan Diggs at receiver on offense, and block a top-five front seven in the league, it’s hard for me to see Miami taking home a win this year with the injury bug hitting them late. Miami needs to look to a miracle to help win this game.

New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings

Prediction: Vikings win 35-31

Both the Vikings and Giants are surprise teams this year. They are led by two great new coaches in the running for Coach of the Year. They were able to jump off the page with offense and improved in areas they needed to. When the Giants hired Brian Daboll in the offseason, he was able to fix a dull offense by helping Daniel Jones to improve and showing the world that Saquon Barkley was indeed NOT a bust. Kevin O’Connell was able to finally put the pieces together on the defensive side for the Vikings and help to progress Justin Jefferson at receiver to an even higher level of competition. Both teams are very similar in how they won and lost games this year, but there is one thing that really sticks out to me most. Kevin O’Connell is coming off playoff experience with the Los Angeles Rams as an assistant coach just last year and helped take them to the Super Bowl, while Daboll was knocked out of the conference championship with the Bills. Both coaches will be tested in a big game, but my edge goes to the Vikings because of the slightly better roster all around.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Prediction: Bengals win 28-17

The Bengals are coming off a great postseason run last year when they made it to the Super Bowl, but just came up short against the Los Angeles Rams. With the loss, they still continued to improve over the off-season, grabbing players to fix the offensive line so that quarterback Joe Burrow could continue to shine as their franchise quarterback. Jamar Chase, although injured in the year, still proved to be a great receiver, continuing to greatly impress viewers in the crowds. With all their power on offense, it’s hard for me to see the Ravens stepping up and beating such a great team, especially without the help of former MVP Lamar Jackson at the quarterback position. The Ravens’ defense has to play an almost a perfect game to even give them a chance against the Bengals and hope the back-up quarterback Anthony Brown can create a spark on the offensive side of the ball.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Prediction: Bucs win 28-25 in heartbreaking fashion.

One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Tom Brady, comes in this year as the 4th seed in the NFC playoffs, despite having a losing record on the year as a whole. Even though the record was bad, the talent in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at the receiver spots on the team and a top ten defense. Not only do the Buccaneers have the talent, Cowboys have enter a cold streak on the offense, causing a lot of turnovers in which the majority are committed by quarterback Dak Prescott. For the perfect game to be played, the Cowboys could have a really good chance at winning if they can play their best football. But recent years’ playoff failures prevent me from seeing it through to the end and having them make it out of the first round.