It took 17 weeks, but we finally our 2017/18 playoff match-ups are set.
The New England Patriots once again have the first seed in the AFC which gives them home-field advantage and a first-round bye, and the Pittsburgh Steelers also get a bye as the second seed as well. The Patriots will host the lowest remaining seed after Wild Card weekend, and the Steelers will host the highest remaining seed.
In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles will have the first seed giving them home-field advantage and a first-round bye, and the Minnesota Vikings also get a bye. The Eagles with host the lowest remaining seed and Minnesota will host the highest remaining seed after Wild Card weekend ends.
So, without further ado, here are my predictions for this upcoming Wild Card weekend.
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs, 4:35 P.M. Eastern, ESPN/ABC
This match-up will be interesting to watch. The Chiefs enter this game winning 10 plus games for the third season in a row and winning the AFC West back-to-back for the first time in franchise history. The Titans on the other hand just barely made it into the playoffs after needing a week 17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars to get in.
The Chiefs started out hot and seemed near invincible during the first half of the season. But, teams started to figure them out and they cooled off. They have amazingly awesome speed in Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill and have one of the best tight ends in the league in Travis Kelce.
Their quarterback Alex Smith has been here before and is a seasoned vet, but Smith is still not considered an elite quarterback and for good reason. He is very capable of throwing the game away, but he does manage the game very well at times if things fall correctly.
When it comes to the Titans, they have definitely struggled at times this season and quarterback Marcus Mariota has definitely been a disappointment all year. Tennessee does have a good offense at times but can seem to become lost if they fall behind early. If Tennessee wants to win, they need to have the best game of the year against a tough Kansas City defense, and it just won't happen.
Prediction: Kansas City beats up the Titans, 27-7
Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 P.M. Eastern, NBC
The Falcons got a hard-fought win in week 17 to get into the playoffs to try and avenge last year's Super Bowl defeat, but this team is certainly not what it was a year ago. They are in the middle of the pack this year and have been very inconsistent in terms of their wins and losses.
They face a red-hot, young Rams team that has taken the NFL by storm, and is giving defensive coordinators nightmares. They are lead by Todd Gurley II who is having an M.V.P. season, and Jared Goff who is playing lights out with his star-studded receiving corp of Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and Copper Kupp.
What the Rams lack in experience they make up for in star power and a high motored offense and defense. Atlanta will struggle to keep pace with this Rams group, and being knocked out early.
Prediction: Rams continue hot streak, 34-24
Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 P.M. Eastern, CBS
Who would have thought that the Buffalo Bills would break the drought and make the playoffs after 17 straight seasons of heartbreak? They benched Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nate Peterman at the start of week 11, and after Peterman threw five interceptions and Buffalo lost 54-24, all hope seemed lost. But thanks to a last-second touchdown throw by Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd to win the game for the Cincinnati Bengals, sealing the fate of the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills are in the playoffs.
After all that though, Buffalo has to go through the tough "Sacksonville" defense that has been on fire all year.
Buffalo may be able to win though if Blake Bortles reverts to his old ways, and the offense, that has not wowed this year, gets stuck in the mud. But, it will be hard for Buffalo to keep the Jags' defense at bay for the entire game.
Even though Buffalo is a seven and a half point underdog, if LeSean McCoy is able to play even if limited, I see Buffalo being able to force enough mistakes on defense allowing the offense to not have to overperform.
The Bills are the only team in the NFL with two players who have five or more interceptions in Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, and with rookie Tre'Davious White playing really well in his first season, The Bills won't go down without a fight.
Prediction: Buffalo's magic continues, 20-17 Buffalo
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints, 4:40 P.M. Eastern, Fox
This will be the last game of Wild Card weekend, and this has the possibility to turn into a shootout or a run away with no in-between.
The Panthers have been the quietest 11-5 team, and that's due to the inconsistencies on offense which have made the Panthers look terrible at times. But, Carolina has shown the ability to make things happen with Cam Newton at quarterback and Christian McCaffrey at running back.
Carolina faces a Saints team that beat them twice during the regular season, a quarterback in Drew Brees that is having a pretty great year that no one is talking about, and one of the best running back duos in the entire league in Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. They also have a rookie of the year and defensive rookie of the year candidate in Marshon Lattimore who has been playing lights out defensively.
With everything seeming to fall into place to create the juggernaut that is the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers, or anyone, won't be stopping them this postseason.
Prediction: 45-21 Saints