We have reached Wild Card weekend. Unlike previous seasons, we have a six-game slate instead of the usual four games. Instead of the usual preview, let’s look at what each team will do offensively and defensively and then make a prediction.


What will the Colts do offensively vs. the Bills?

We can expect a heavy dosage of runs behind the great interior offensive line. Jonathan Taylor had a great rookie season and is built for the postseason since he’s a tough back to bring down. TY Hilton is primarily an outside receiver but don’t be surprised to see him in the slot to get a favorable matchup. The Bills are going to load the box to stop the run, daring Philip Rivers to beat them downfield. Additionally, Tre’Davious White is an outside corner but might shadow TY Hilton for a majority of the game. The big question is if the Colts can find Michael Pittman or Zach Pascal open against the Bills secondary.

What will the Bills do offensively vs. the Colts?

The true question is whether the Bills are going to overthink this game. The Bills have the offense to score at will, but if they try to do anything too exotic or unconventional, they can struggle. The Bills will try to establish a balanced attack with a solid running game but the deep shots are inevitable. The Colts have good corners, but the Bills can find a matchup one way or another depending on whether Stefon Diggs or John Brown is covered by Xavier Rhodes. The Colts will try to line Deforest Buckner in different techniques to generate pressure but the Bills offensive line will constantly double him.

Josh Allen has looked like a human cheat code at times. The Colts might consider taking risks on defense to stop Allen. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, left, throws a pass to running back Devin Singletary during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)


Josh Allen is best when he can create and move around. The Colts defense has their hands tied considering they need to methodically pass-rush and can’t send pressure with Allen improving his release. The Bills will also establish a run game to keep the Colts defense honest. If the Colts play from behind, they are in trouble and the Bills defense can take advantage of the obvious passing downs. Expect the Bills to win and potentially by two scores.


What will the Rams do offensively vs. the Seahawks?

The Rams might once again be without Jared Goff, meaning they can potentially play a Wild Card game with John Wolford as their starter. This will force the Rams to run more so than usual and design more plays for Wolford to run himself. The Seahawks defense has improved incredibly in recent weeks and if Jamal Adams suits up, we can see the Seahawks giving Wolfold difficult looks all game. The Rams will have to have big games from their tight ends who not only need to help establish the line of scrimmage but be able to run effective short-yard routes to give Wolford easy completions.

What will the Seahawks do offensively vs. the Rams?

It’s perplexing to see how the Seahawks have transformed from an explosive offense to a rather basic one. The running game is able to return with the running backs coming back from injury and the offensive line zone blocking. Russell Wilson still remains one of the more talented quarterbacks in the NFL, and if he can create plays outside the pocket, the Seahawks offense will take off. We know Aaron Donald is going to constantly be a force in this game, disrupting everything the Seahawks do. We also know that Jalen Ramsey will shadow DK Metcalf for the majority of snaps, limiting him throughout the game. This is why it is pivotal for Russell Wilson to be able to create and scramble, hoping that receivers like Tyler Lockett can be found open once the play breaks down.


This is a game where we expect a few big plays to decide who wins. Russell Wilson is going to have to look for his second or even third read on many of the snaps. We also have to anticipate the Seahawks trying to run either off-tackle or with misdirection to keep Aaron Donald in check. The Rams need to make a big play either on defense or special teams to win this game. It’s hard seeing either of those things happening and thus the Seahawks will come away with a big win.


What Will the Bucs do offensively vs. the Football Team?

The Washington Football Team is going to give Tom Brady problems throughout the Wild Card game with their defensive line. The Bucs need to limit the effective front four not only by keeping them honest with a balanced attack but also with a heavy dosage of quick passes. Tom Brady specializes in quick passing plays, and he will need to find his receivers often open on slant routes and dig routes. Rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs is having a phenomenal season and if the Bucs can run behind him and their blocking tight ends, they will be able to manage the Football Team’s defense.

What will the Football Team do offensively vs. the Bucs?

There isn’t much if any optimism when it comes to the Football Team’s offense. Alex Smith is an incredible comeback story but he isn’t at full strength for this game. Washington has an underrated offensive line and can run the ball with rookie Antonio Gibson having a decent game. The problem for Washington is that Tampa has one of the best rush defenses in the NFL with arguably one of the best front-sevens in the game. Washington is going to be forced to win the game in the air and the question is how they can do that. The simple answer is by finding Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas in favorable matchups. The issue here is that Tampa is going to not only keep out for the two top targets of Washington but also has the talent to limit the pairing.


As much as Washington looks promising and can be a sleeper team on Wild Card weekend, it’s hard seeing them pulling the upset with a struggling offense. The Buccaneers are going to also struggle on offense but will still be able to make enough plays to get the job done. Expect a low-scoring game but one in which the Bucs pull away.


What will the Ravens do offensively vs. the Titans?

Last year, the Ravens looked poised to run all over the Titans in the Divisional Round. Instead, the Ravens came out firing and hoping to beat the Titans downfield. Don’t expect the Ravens to make the same mistake this time around on Wild Card weekend. With the offensive line looking incredibly improved since the middle of the season, we can expect both Lamar Jackson and rookie JK Dobbins to have impressive games. The Titans defense does not look good and hasn’t since the start of the season, it’s hard seeing how they can stop the Ravens on the ground aside from loading the box. Jackson really doesn’t have many favorable matchups downfield but tight end Mark Andrews can get open down the seams if the Titans safeties are either too greedy on the run game or divert to the outside receivers.

What will the Titans do offensively vs. the Ravens?

Derrick Henry
Derrick Henry looks unstoppable this year, can the Ravens stop him? Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry runs from New England Patriots defenders in the first half of an NFL Wild Card playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Derrick Henry is having one of the greatest seasons of any running back in the history of the game. Henry is most effective when he can build momentum and start picking up speed in his rushes. With this in mind, the Ravens will likely play five down linemen in this game hoping to stop Henry in the early stages of the running play. It will also be important for the Ravens to rotate linemen throughout the game since a tired front-seven in the 4th quarter is a disaster waiting to happen. The Titans don’t have the best passing game but have matchup nightmares in AJ Brown and Corey Davis. It will be interesting to see how Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters choose to cover them since one would think that they wouldn’t want to give up the big play.


The Ravens are poised to bounce-back in the revenge Wild Card game. The Titans look unstoppable at the moment, but based on what we saw in Week 16 in Green Bay, we can expect the Ravens to run a similar defense to stop the run game. This game will likely come down to two things. One; who will take the comfortable lead first and force the other offense into obvious passing situations. Two; which team can make that game-winning play. If this game comes down to a field goal (and it might) the Ravens have to feel at a significant advantage with Justin Tucker. Last year, Ryan Tannehill only completed 7 passes for 88 yards, if the Titans want to win they can’t expect that type of game again. The Ravens should win in a close game.


What will the Bears do offensively vs. the Saints?

The Bears offense has looked improved since Mitch Trubisky retook the starting role. The Bears are a run-first team now with David Montgomery emerging as one of the best young backs in the NFL. The Saints defense is one of the more complete ones in the NFL and it will be difficult for the Bears to constantly run against that front-seven. The Bears will have to win off the play-action and also find second or third receivers open. Marshon Lattimore is one of the best corners in the game and will likely cover Allen Robinson throughout the Wild Card game. This will force Trubisky to try to find Darnell Mooney or Jimmy Graham in the passing game.

What will the Saints do offensively vs. the Bears?

Whether the Saints get back Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara is still questionable for this game. However, the Saints should be able to find many good options offensively in this game. For starters, the offensive line is one of the best in the NFL. Drew Brees should see a clean pocket for the majority of the game but has to account for Khalil Mack coming off the edge. Taysom Hill is going to be used in all facets of the game and the Saints will constantly give the Bears defense difficult reads. It will be intriguing if Michael Thomas plays to see how the Bears cover him. One idea would be using the “thumbs technique” where Kyle Fuller plays off and out and one of the safeties plays tight coverage on him and covers the inside route.


The Saints are one of the Super Bowl favorites and they are rightfully heavy favorites in this Wild Card game. The only way the Saints lose this game is by playing down to the Bears, specifically, where they try too much on offense and turn over the ball. The Saints might outplay the Bears in all facets of the game and unless the Bears can establish the run game, it can be a blowout.


What will the Browns do offensively vs. the Steelers?

The Browns run the offense that was made famous by Gary Kubiak, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan. They run behind a great run-blocking line and allow Baker Mayfield to throw off the play-action or bootleg to find easy looks. The difficulty of this game is keeping the Steelers defense honest and specifically, keeping Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds out of the box. The Steelers have a defense built for obvious passing situations and the Browns have to avoid them at all costs. The Browns should try to take advantage of the Steelers linebackers in coverage with Jarvis Landry in the slot and Kareem Hunt coming out of the backfield.

Nick Chubb is a pivotal player in the Browns offense. Chubb will need to have a big game if the Browns have any hope of advancing past Wild Card weekend.

What will the Steelers do offensively vs. the Browns?

The Steelers have played well offensively in the past six quarters but there isn’t much to look forward to. The run game is still non-existent and Ben Roethlisberger isn’t effectively finding receivers in the short crossing patterns. The Steelers have found one concept in their offense that they exploit constantly against opponents. The Steelers can look for Chase Claypool downfield in one-on-one coverage. The Browns will try to keep a receiver deep to prevent Claypool from beating them deep but the Steelers will look for that one receiver that can be open in the passing game. Juju Smith-Schuster is going to likely be guarded by Denzel Ward the entire game so James Washington and Dionte Johnson are going to need to step up on Sunday.


The air was taken out of this Wild Card game when head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for Covid-19. This looked to be the game of the week, but with the uncertainty of the Browns play calling, this looks to be a game that is dominated by Pittsburgh. The Steelers aren’t going to run up the score, but Ben Roethlisberger is going to make enough big plays to give the Steelers a comfortable lead. The Steelers will also try to find matchups in the trenches, lining Cameron Heyward in the 3-technique or TJ Watt against Jedrik Wills in hopes to dominate that area. The Browns can make this a close game but expect the Steelers to be in control for the majority and possibly pull away in the 4th quarter.

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