Wildcard Weekend

TB
He’s been counted out before but the pressure has never been on Tom Brady and the Patriots like it is now. (Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Are the Patriots cooked…

Can the Texans get over the playoff hump…

Will Alvin Kamara get going…

Are the Eagles making up the numbers…

Wildcard Weekend poses many questions.

And they’ll all be answered across Sunday and Monday morning and with many of us still on holidays (for those who are not, I’m sorry!) we can watch every snap.

Here’s a quick preview of each contest and something worth keeping your eye on as a subplot;

BILLS at TEXANS
Josh Allen is a gamer and the Bills have toughed out big wins all season long. Meanwhile, in Houston the pressure would be immense on a team who has had multiple playoff failures.
Deshaun Watson won a National Championship at Clemson, so winning a playoff game should not be outside his abilities. It’s a mouthwatering clash!

Keep an eye on: Former LSU standout corner Tre White’s matchup with dominant WR DeAndre Hopkins.

Tip: Bills 22 – 20

TITANS at PATRIOTS
They lost at home to Miami. Are they gone? Tom Brady ain’t Tom Brady no more and the defence has dropped away from its historically great levels from early in the season. Belichick will have spent all week working out how to slow down Derek Henry – the NFL’s rushing king.
Ryan Tannehill has thrown 22 scores with only six picks since taking over as QB but he faces a large task beating Bill and Brady inside freezing Foxborough.
Tennessee have been mightily impressive late in the season but you’d still need to be a brave person to pick against New England at home, in the cold, in the playoffs.

Keep an eye on: Belichick versus King Rhino – can Dereky Henry overrun – literally – this Patriots defence who will be all-out in trying to stem the rush.

Tip: Patriots 24 – 17

VIKINGS at SAINTS
Kirk Cousins looks awesome against bad teams and bad against awesome teams. He needs a big kill as Minnesota QB and this is a huge opportunity but also a huge huge challenge.
New Orleans have looked like the best team in football at different stages – usually when Drew Brees has been tossing the ball toward Mike Thomas.
Their major worry has been Alvin Kamara’s drop-off this season with career-lows in touchdowns and receiving yards despite the departure of Mark Ingram.
Dalvin Cook’s availability and production is key for the Vikings because he sets up the play-action game, gives Cousins another receiver and is often able to gain yards from minimally advantageous plays.
It would surprise to see the Saints exit the playoffs so soon when for most of the season I expected them to have a bye on Wildcard Weekend.

Keep an eye on: Alvin Kamara – his productivity will determine how far the Saints can go.

Tip: Saints 33 – 24

SEAHAWKS at EAGLES
11-win Seattle has to travel cross-country to face 9-win Philly. It’s ordinary but complaining about it is pointless but a point made nonetheless.
Onto the game – Philadelphia are banged up with eight players all questionable to play. Zach Ertz, Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox are three on that list who are must-plays otherwise I give the Eagles no hope.
Russell Wilson gives you a chance against anyone and after racking up a great regular season, it’s more likely the ‘Hawks can advance rather than the inconsistent and beat up Eagles.

Keep an eye on: Beastmode – whether Marshawn Lynch can be a legitimate factor for the Seahawks is unknown.

Tip: Seahawks 23 – 17

 

 


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