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VOL. 46 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 14, 2022

Wild Card Weekend predictions

Updated 9:18AM
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The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. Here's a look at the matchups and predictions for outcomes.

NFC

Eagles (9-8) at Buccaneers (12-5)

Let’s see, Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champs taking on an Eagles team that has exactly one win (the 9-8 Saints) against a team with a winning record. The Eagles are a bit ahead of schedule and slipped into the postseason thanks to the NFC being top-heavy and not very good past about the top five teams.

Brady simply has too much firepower for the Eagles to hang in this one at Raymond James Stadium.

Prediction: Bucs 41, Eagles 13

When: Sunday noon.

TV: Fox (Channel 17)

49ers (10-7) at Cowboys (12-5)

The 49ers rallied and defeated the Rams on the road in overtime to reach the postseason. They face a Cowboys team that has plenty of talent but a recent history of postseason failure. Both teams have pass rushing stars in Micah Parson for Dallas and Nick Bosa for San Fran.

On the other side of the ball, Dallas has the edge at quarterback as Dak Prescott, who doesn’t have a signature postseason win but still has the edge over the inconsistent Jimmy Garoppolo, despite the latter’s Super Bowl run two years ago.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, 49ers 23

When: Sunday 3:30 p.m.

TV: CBS (Channel 5)

Cardinals (12-5) at Rams (12-5)

The Cardinals have been road warriors this season while mysteriously struggled at home. So maybe it’s just as well they lost the NFC West title to the Rams.

Kyler Murray was electric to start the season, and Arizona had the best record in the NFL for several weeks. But they tailed off badly after DeAndre Hopkins was lost due to injury.

The Rams have had their own bouts with disappointment this year, but still have a potent offense led by Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. L.A. also has a defense led by Aaron Donald and can be dominant at times. This should be a good game.

Prediction: Rams 30, Cardinals 27

When: Monday 7:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN

AFC

Raiders (10-7) at Bengals (10-7)

The Raiders are plenty scrappy, and making the playoffs – in amazing fashion Sunday night vs. the Chargers – is quite the accomplishment after all the team has been through this season.

The Bengals have matured into a contender before our eyes, thanks to their LSU connection of Joe Burrow and JaMarr Chase. The Raiders will put up a fight, but the Bengals have the hot right arm of Burrow to bank on.

Prediction: Bengals 27, Raiders 17

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

TV: NBC (Channel 4)

Patriots (10-7) at Bills (12-5)

These two AFC East rivals meet for the third time in the past five weeks with each team winning on each others home field. The Patriots used their running game to down the Bills on Monday Night Football in the first meeting with rookie QB Mac Jones throwing just three passes on a windy night in Buffalo. The Bills dominated the return match in Foxboro with Josh Allen having a much better game than the first meeting.

The Bills are the more talented team, but don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick doesn’t have something up his sleeve in the rubber match.

Prediction: Patriots 23, Bills 21

When: Saturday, 7:15 p.m.

TV: CBS (Channel 5)

Steelers (9-7-1) at Chiefs (12-5)

Ben Roethlisberger’s Hall of Fame career gets extended, thanks to the Raiders and Chargers not ending in a tie. Big Ben and the Steelers offense has been drab and unproductive for much of the season, and they just got waxed by the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago.

The Steelers do have a good defense, led by T.J. Watt, and that defense will have to find a way to force turnovers to stay in this one. Chances are, though, Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense will be in high gear to open the playoffs at Arrowhead.

Prediction: Chiefs 34, Steelers 10

When: Sunday, 7:15 p.m.

TV: NBC (Channel 4)

-- Terry McCormick

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