NFL 21–22 Super Wild Card Predictions
It’s that time of year where we all pretend to not know what will happen, only for Tom Brady to reach the Super Bowl and win it once again.
Over the course of this season I’ve managed to get 60% of my predictions correct. More precisely, I was 163–108–1 in the Win-Loss-Tie columns. Over the last five weeks, I’ve gone 12–2, 11–5, 12–4, 13–3, and 11–5, clocking in at a solid 75.6% on my picks over that span (if you’re wondering how I got an overall 60% on the year, let’s just say… mid-season definitely beat me up on some of those). All this to say: I’m on a hot streak, and I hope to continue it. I’m like the Miami Dolphins, except without the whole having a terrible road game, falling out of the playoff race because of it, and firing your up-and-coming coach that has helped the team overperform in recent years. So, not the Miami Dolphins, I guess.
I’m hoping to go 100% in the playoffs, which means I’m likely going 6–7 during these next couple of weeks.
Such is the way of things.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cincinnati Bengals (Saturday, 4:30pm on NBC, Peacock)
Is it really an AFC Playoffs without the Raiders?
Usually, yes, but not this time, with Las Vegas having squeezed out its last 4 games en route to a playoff berth, culminating in an incredible game between them and the Los Angeles Chargers. These two teams played earlier this season and the Raiders managed to keep it close through three quarters before the Bengals pulled away for a 32–13 win in Vegas. This Raiders team feels a bit different from that team we saw a couple months ago, but don’t let them fool you. After losing by 39 to the Chiefs, the Raiders won by 2 against the Cleveland Browns (not a playoff team), by 4 against the Denver Broncos (not a playoff team), by 3 against the Indianapolis Colts (not a playoff team), and by 3 against the Los Angeles Chargers (not a playoff team). The Bengals, meanwhile, are an absolute menace that have knocked out KC once this year (unlike the Raiders, who have a -66 point spread against them in their two games). The Raiders’ pass rush can be a problem, but Joe Burrow has already demonstrated that he doesn’t need time to lob perfect throws up to Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals defense is also feisty, and will create issues for this Raiders offense. Therefore, sorry Raiders, but your season is coming to an end. Cincinnati 34, Las Vegas 21
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills (Saturday, 8:15pm on CBS, Paramount+)
This series has given us two great games already this season, and I don’t expect anything less than that on Saturday night between these division rivals. This might end up being one of the coldest playoff football games to ever happen. Buffalo has looked a little sloppy lately, but I have an inkling that they’ve been waiting to rev the engine back up come playoff time. New England, meanwhile, has lost 3 of their last 4 games, their lone win coming against the Jacksonville Jaguars. They beat Buffalo earlier this season in an insanely windy game where New England QB Mac Jones threw just 3 passes. This is not a sustainable model, and I’ve got Buffalo 23, New England 16
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sunday, 1:00pm on FOX)
Tom Brady hates the NFC East. He despises it with every fiber in his body. They took 3 Super Bowls from him. Will they take a 4th? Maybe, but it won’t be this NFC East team doing it. Tampa Bay is injured, that’s a given, but its defense is getting healthy again. LaVonte David is coming back. On the offensive side of the ball, Giovani Bernard and Leonard Fournette are also coming back at RB. An unhealthy Bucs team would still be a challenge to this young Eagles team, but with a couple more pieces coming into place, I’ve got Tampa Bay 33, Philadelphia 23
San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 4:30pm on CBS, NICK, Amazon)
I really want to pick San Francisco. I really, really do. But there are too many mismatches here. If San Francisco wants to win this game, they will have to run the ball like crazy and not let Jimmy G make any mistakes. Dallas’s vaunted pass rush tends to be weaker against the run. However, Dallas’s offense and San Francisco’s defense is a complete mismatch in the making. Dallas struggles against teams that can rush the passer while also covering well, shown in its losses to Denver, Kansas City, & Arizona. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers have a decent pass rush, but this is not a team that can defend the pass for long periods of time. If Nick Bosa can’t get home, this team is in trouble. Dallas 36, San Francisco 18
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 8:15pm on NBC, Peacock)
This matchup occurred a couple of weeks ago at Arrowhead (KC). The 36–10 blowout the Steelers allowed was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen. At one point, CBS pulled away from the game to watch Derek Carr take a couple of knees. The Steelers came out flat in that game, but I don’t expect them to do the same in this one. They will find a way to stay in this game for way longer than they should, but ultimately Kansas City pulls away towards the end to the tune of Kansas City 29, Pittsburgh 16
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams (Monday, 8:15pm on ABC, ESPN)
I’m going to be honest, I have the least amount of confidence about this game. I’m going to pick the Rams, though, and here’s why: as the season has gone on, this Rams team has progressed, whereas the Cardinals have regressed. Since losing a winnable game in Green Bay following the bye, the Rams have won all but one of their games, the loss being against the 49ers, who’ve famously had their number over the past few years. And even that matchup should have been won by the Rams. This team is sneaking up on some people, whereas the Cardinals are the epitome of a wild card team. They can 100% win this game if they have one of their good days. If they have one of their bad days, it could get ugly. I think this Rams team is still better defensively, better coaching-wise, and better consistency-wise, so I’ll take them in a thriller. Los Angeles (R) 28, Arizona 24