NFL Playoffs Preview


Pike Temple, Sports Editor

The NFL Playoffs are upon us. The slate is set, and Wildcard Weekend is here. After such an exciting end to the regular season, the playoffs will not disappoint. 


Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

The Seahawks needed the Packers to lose to the Lions on Sunday night and their wish came true. Seattle will play their division rival, the San Francisco 49ers, in the Wildcard round. Geno Smith now holds the Seahawks single season passing yards record, but the 49ers defense is elite. Seattle has surpassed expectations this year, but even with Brock Purdy at QB, the 49ers are one of the stronger teams in the playoffs from a roster standpoint on the NFC side. The Seahawks are a solid playoff team historically, but the 49ers have won 10 straight and are the better team. I believe that Mr. Irrelevant will lead San Francisco past their division rivals and convincingly keep his winning streak alive.

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Coming off a week 18 loss to the Broncos, the Chargers should enter the playoffs hungry for a win. Although a wildcard team, Los Angeles finished with a 10-7 record, where the Jaguars went 9-8 after winning the final 5 games of the year to win the AFC South. Both teams have impressed at times throughout the season, but the winner will likely be determined by the quarterback play and the turnover differential. That being said, this game could be one of the more entertaining matchups this weekend. However, the Chargers will cage the Jaguars and leave them behind in Jacksonville. Justin Herbert is playing playoff caliber football and the Jags are still a year away from being legit playoff contenders.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills

The Dolphins, without Tua, squeaked out a win against the Jets and Joe Flacco. The awkward 11-6 victory was an accurate reflection of how the Dolphin’s offense would look without Tagovailoa at the helm. With one of the more explosive offenses throughout the year, Tua’s recurring head injuries could be a concern. The concussion prone QB sat out week 18, but a return is uncertain. On the other side of the ring, the Bills have been fueled by Damar Hamlins’ extraordinary recovery after suffering cardiac arrest against the Bengals on MNF. After the emotional rollercoaster over the past couple weeks. The Bills will beat up on the Dolphins and win another game for Hamlin.

New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings 

The New York Giants lost to the Eagles in week 18, but without starting quarterback Daniel Jones, that was to be expected. The Giants haven’t been the most dominant team, on offense or defense, over the course of this season, but HC Brian Daboll has turned a mediocre roster into a playoff team in the span of a year. Over in Minnesota, the Vikings had a hot start to the year, but on multiple occasions this season, Kevin O’Connel’s team has practically gotten shutout altogether. Justin Jefferson is having one of the best seasons ever for a WR, but he was locked down by Jaire Alexander in week 17 and was held to under 50 yards in week 18. The offense has struggled as of late, and so has the defense. The Giants will pull off the upset and move on to the divisional round.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Baltimore Ravens will also play a division opponent in the wild card round. The Ravens have been without star QB Lamar Jackson down the final stretch of the year, and it is uncertain that Jackson will play against the Bengals. However, if he does, Lamar is a game changer. The Bengals, in comparison, haven’t lost a game since October, and look like one of the hotter teams entering the playoffs. Outside of the canceled game against Buffalo in week 17, Cincinnati has won 8 straight. Due to Lamar’s possible unavailability, the Bengals are almost guaranteed to move on to the divisional round. If Jackson is somehow cleared to play, the Cincinnati defense would be challenged by the more potent Jackson. Nevertheless, the Bengals offense is still more dangerous and Cincinnati is simply the better team.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In week 18, the Cowboys got steamrolled by the Washington Commanders. However, the team has shown promise throughout the course of the season. The 40-3 win over Minnesota is an obvious example of Dallas’ potential, but over the years, the inconsistent Cowboys have consistently not lived up to their potential, specifically in the playoffs. This loss to Washington is a serious red flag, and proof that Dallas isn’t prepared for playoff football. On the other hand, the Bucs haven’t had the greatest year themselves. Although Tampa Bay won the NFC South, the Buccaneers managed to make the playoffs with a losing record, due to the division’s lackluster play. Without a string of impressive wins on their résumé, the Bucs don’t appear to be one of the stronger teams in the NFC, but the Tom Brady effect cannot be overlooked. Brady tends to play well in the playoffs, and the Cowboys don’t, so I believe the Buccaneers will send Mike McCarthy and the Cowboys packing come Monday night.


Early Super Bowl Prediction: Buffalo Bills

In the NFC, the Philadelphia Eagles are the clear and obvious favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. In a much weaker conference than the AFC, the Eagles path to the big dance is the easiest, thanks to the bye and #1 seed. The Eagles have looked like the best team all year in the NFC and it isn’t even close. In the AFC, the Bills and the Chiefs are two tough outs, but like last season, if a team such as the Bengals gets hot at the right time, a lower seed could definitely make the conference championship. 

I don’t see any team eliminating the Bills with what has culminated over the last few weeks of the regular season. A team playing with a cause and a purpose is a dangerous one, and the Bills have won big games the entire season. I predict that the Buffalo Bills will defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-28.