It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas. Playoff football.
The NFL playoffs kick off with a slew of Wild Card match-ups that have all the makings of some highlight-worthy finishes and surprises leading into next week’s divisional round.
Nothing says Wild Card Weekend like four games over the course of Saturday and Sunday. Consider our weekend booked.
Wild Card Weekend kicks off Saturday with the hugry Tennessee Titans visiting the revived Kansas City Chiefs. Later that night, the surging Atlanta Falcons will venture into the Coliseum to take on the high-flying Los Angeles Rams.
The weekend concludes on Sunday with two teams making the playoffs for the first time in a long time. The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Buffalo Bills, and both squads hope to end their respective playoff win droughts. Carolina-New Orleans the Trilogy will wrap-up Wild Card Weekend as the Saints look to keep it a perfect 3-0 against the Panthers in what’s sure to have a wild finish.
We wouldn’t expect any less.
Here are our picks for this Wild Card weekend:
Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018; 4:35pm
Alyssa: Chiefs 28, Titans 17 – Despite their late-season stumble, ever since the Chiefs handed the reins over to offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, they’ve rediscovered what made them a threat early on in the 2017 season. The Chiefs can beat you through the air or on the ground. Not to mention they thrive on using the turnover battle to their full potential. Marcus Mariota hasn’t been beating teams in the way he’s capable of. When all’s said and done, the Chiefs will dictate whether they win or lose this game.
Lizzie: Chiefs 28, Titans 20 – I want the Chiefs to lose this game, I just don’t think they can. They’re not exactly on fire, no, but they’re just the better team, and if there’s gonna be an upset, I don’t think it’s this one.
Charles: Chiefs 31, Titans 10 – Both teams aren’t exactly on fire but I feel like the Chiefs have the better team and the better Defense. And in the playoffs, defense will always come out on top.
Katherine: Chiefs 27, Titans 17 – The Chiefs are the better of the two teams here, if they can find the magic that they had in the beginning of the season then there is no way they lose. The Titans have done little to convince me that they can pull this one off.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Los Angeles Rams
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018; 8:15pm
Alyssa: Rams 34, Falcons 20 – With their balanced offensive attack and dominant defense, the Los Angeles Rams are the more complete team heading into this game. The Falcons have struggled this season and managed to avoid the Super Bowl jinx. But the Rams are just so talented in all facets — and can put up points on offense, which is what the Falcons have struggled with — that this makes this game the Rams’ to lose. (Don’t lose, LA. You’re my playoff team this year. Let’s hope that’s a blessing and not a curse.)
Lizzie: Rams 31, Falcons 30 – This could go either way for me, but I’m going with the Rams just because they seem the more complete team in the playoffs to me, and honestly, because as much as I want Matty Ice to get a Super Bowl ring, rooting for him hasn’t gotten him that, so maybe if I root against him?
Charles: Falcons 28, Rams 24 – This is a tough game to pick but I feel like experience will always win out in these situations. Atlanta should be angry coming into the playoffs and if they can play with intensity and anger, they could win the wide open NFC.
Katherine: Falcons 27, Rams 26 – This game will be an incredibly close one,but the Falcons just seem like a more capable team in the playoffs. Though Matt Ryan has been known to choke in big playoff games. The run game may be the deciding factor in this one, with Freeman and Gurley going head to head. This one could pretty much be a coin flip.
Buffalo Bills vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 1:05pm
Alyssa: Jaguars 20, Bills 14 – Talk about a surprising and pleasing wild card match-up. The Buffalo Bills are in the playoffs for the first time since before the turn of the century, and the Jaguars have returned after a 10-year playoff drought. The Bills will need Tyrod Taylor to step up if LeSean McCoy’s injured ankle keeps him sidelined. But he’ll have to do it against one of the league’s top defenses in Jacksonville. Ultimately, the Jags defense should rise to the challenge and deliver the team’s first playoff win since 2008. Be it with or without quarterback Blake Bortles’ help.
Lizzie: Jaguars 21, Bills 17 – For me, the clearest game of the whole weekend. I don’t see how the Bills take this one. They’re lucky to be here, and I’m happy they are, but this is where that story ends.
Charles: Jaguars 17, Bills 10 – As Jason from The Good Place, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS RULE! His hero Blake Bortles should be to do enough against a team that lucked their way into the playoffs. Defense will be the name of this game and I have more faith right now in the Jaguars’s than I do the LeSean-less Bills.
Katherine: Jaguars 24, Bills 10 – The Bills are, as Lizzie said, lucky to be here. The Jacksonville defense is amazing, though they will win this game, it may not be as easy as it should be. For sure the most surprising matchup this year in the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018 4:40pm
Alyssa: Saints 34, Panthers 30 – The New Orleans Saints swept the Carolina Panthers in the regular season. But that doesn’t make their playoff rematch any less thrilling or telling. The Wild Card finale certainly promises to be an exciting one as two division rivals with high-powered offenses and dominant defenses square off. New Orleans’ dual backfield threat will lead the charge as Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram look to set the tone on offense. Don’t forget you also have Drew Brees, who hasn’t been a passing assassin this season, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of it. Cam Newton is always a threat. If the Saints defense can fluster Newton, then it’s a definite victory. But I foresee this game going down to the wire and delivering a great playoff finish.
Lizzie: Saints 35, Panthers 26 – I can’t root for Cam, and I can’t pick Cam. Plus, the Saints defense has actually looked pretty darn good this year, and they always reliably score points, so why would I pick against them?
Charles: Saints 27, Panthers 21 – A game that looks like it will be a high-scoring affair might not be so. Drew Brees vs Cam Newton is the marquee match-up of the weekend but it will be the running games that decide this one. I like New Orleans’s 1-2 punch of Kamara and Ingram to wear down Carolina in this entertaining closer to the Wild Card weekend.
Katherine: Saints 35, Panthers 21 – The Saints have an amazing running back duo (and my rookie of the year, in Alvin Kamara), they have Drew Brees, and they have a defense that should be able to frustrate Cam Newton. This matchup is definitely the one that I am looking forward to the most this weekend.