NFL Wildcard preview and predictions

THE SCHEDULE for the entire 2022 postseason. John Breech/CBS Sports

Lucas Rapeepat | Head Editor

January 13, 2022

After the final seconds of the last game of the NFL season, the playoffs are set, as fourteen teams remain in the hunt for the Lombardi trophy.

This year was unique; it was the first 17 game regular season in history. The one seed in each conference, The Tennessee Titans in the AFC, and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC, earn a first round bye, meaning that we will enjoy six battles on Wild Card weekend. 

The rest of the contenders have some work to do. 

Cincinnati Bengals vs Las Vegas Raiders:

The Bengals have been on an absolute tear lately, as quarterback Joe Burrow, with the help of three young star receivers and an underrated defense, has directed his team to the AFC North title with almost 1,000 passing yards, 8 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions in his past two performances. But the Raiders just pulled off a miracle – arguably the most impressive of the entire year – and quarterback Derek Carr’s team has struggled through all kinds of adversity to fight for the 5th seed. This Vegas team is being discredited a little too quickly, but there is a good chance the Bengals’ explosiveness will be too much for them in the end.

Prediction: 31-21 Bengals

New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills

THE FRIGID SHOWDOWN between division rivals is one of the more uncertain games in the super wild card.  Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire, Getty Images

“This is definitely the most difficult game to pick this entire week,” senior Haze Brawner said. “They split their regular season matchups, and both have looked hot and cold throughout the year.” The Bills have been playing better recently, but it’s always difficult to bet against Bill Belichick. Bill’s quarterback Josh Allen is clearly the superior quarterback, but will his team be outcoached in a frigid, low scoring Northeastern bout? This is a matchup for bettors to shy away from.

Prediction: 17-14 Bills

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Philadelphia Eagles

Though the Eagles have given quarterback Tom Brady trouble in the past, the return of injured playmakers such as edge rusher Shaquil Barrett and running back Leonard Fournette should establish them as clear favorites, though Jalen Hurts and his crew will put up a fight. The Bucs defense has underperformed recently, but should be able to control first year head coach Nick Sirianni’s attack. “Tom and the Bucs are not losing in the first round,” senior Evan Lowe said. “There’s a large chance we see them compete for the title again.”

Prediction: 24-17 Buccaneers

Dallas Cowboys vs San Francisco 49ers

This Cowboys team looks different than those of the past that would consistently choke come January. The offense is putting up massive numbers, and the defense led by linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs is the best it’s been in a long time. However, the 49ers are a sneaky team, inconsistent but a lingering problem. At the end of the day, however, San Francisco’s quarterback Jimmy Garropolo is not good enough to match this potent Dallas attack. 

Prediction: 35-21 Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs vs Pittsburgh Steelers:

Even Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisburger admitted that his team is facing a near impossible task against the high-powered Chiefs. The Steelers have barely crawled their way into the playoffs, and are certainly the worst team remaining. Their chances of beating superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes and co, after getting killed by them three weeks ago, are slim. “Big Ben’s retirement game is going to be a blowout,” Brawner said. 

Prediction: 38-13 Chiefs

Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals

After the best start in the league, the Cardinals have fallen off as of late, losing four of their last five games. The Rams, on the other hand, won five straight before losing an overtime battle to the 49ers. Los Angeles has so much talent on both sides of the ball peaking in the homestretch, whereas Arizona has had to rely on Kyler Murray magic while possessing a dwindling defense and run game. “Von Miller, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey, and so many more,” Lowe said. “Their list of threats and x-factors is endless.” 

Prediction: 27-24 Rams

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