NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Preview (2023)

I don’t want to waste too many words on an introduction, since this post is all about the six games taking place over the next three days. So, we’ll get to those as quickly as possible.

When it comes to sports, I like stats, but I believe any team, on any day, can win any game. So, when I make my predictions, I’m going with my instincts.

Without any further word usage, it’s time for SUUUPER Wild Card Weekend. The NFL should’ve gotten Tony Chimel to say “SUUUPER” for them. If you don’t get that reference, you’re probably not a wrestling fan.

Enjoy the games and good luck to your team, if they’re in it!

Kansas City ChiefsPhiladelphia Eagles
Buffalo BillsSan Francisco 49ers
Cincinatti BengalsMinnesota Vikings
Jacksonville JaguarsTampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles ChargersDallas Cowboys
Baltimore RavensNew York Giants
Miami DolphinsSeattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks (7) at San Francisco 49ers (2)

The first thing I saw on TV today was that it was raining in The Bay and I thought, “So? Tampa Bay doesn’t play until Monday.” And then I woke up and realized they were talking about the Bay Area.

My initial reaction was that Seattle, as a city, is more accustomed to rain than San Francisco. I was starting to convince myself that this would be an advantage for the Seahawks. They could muck it up. They could find themselves in a low-scoring game of 13-10 and escape with the win.

But then I snapped back to what I’ve felt since I saw this matchup – the 49ers are going to win.

If it is a rainy and windy affair, where ball control and possession rue the day, then the 49ers are equipped to play that style of football. They won’t hesitate to give Christian McCaffrey 20+ touches. They won’t hesitate to run quick slants to Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. They won’t hesitate to find George Kittle in the flat and let him fight for yards.

To steal a baseball term, they will “small ball” it up with the best of them. Heck, that’s basically their game plan on bright, sunny days. The 49ers offence will be just fine.

I think the wet conditions hinder the Seahawks because they can’t afford to be predictable against the 49ers defence. A wet field also slows down a scrambling Geno Smith.

This is just what I think. Maybe the field isn’t that bad. I heard they have a great drainage system, so everything I’ve written could go down the drain and we could see the Seahawks come out on top.

Prediction: 49ers Win, 23 – 14

Los Angeles Chargers (5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (4)

The Chargers decided to play their starters in a meaningless Week 18 game and it cost them one of their top two wide receivers. Mike Williams is out with a fractured back.

I’m not here to call for anyone’s job or insist that someone should be fired, but how does the Chargers management team (at all levels) allow this to happen? You had nothing to play for. Williams had already been banged up during the season. Why is he out there?

Weeks ago, I said that the Chargers receivers have a significant size advantage over opposing secondaries. Williams is 6’4. A quick scan of the cornerbacks and safeties of the Jaguars tells me he would’ve had anywhere from a 3-6 inch height advantage.

Oh, well. That’s out the window now.

If these teams weren’t playing each other, I’d want both of them to win. I like both teams that much.

I believe the Chargers offence will be fine as long as Justin Herbert is locked in from the start. I know it’s his first playoff game, but he can’t afford to wait until midway through the second quarter to get things going.

Feed Austin Ekeler, find Keenan Allen, and hit Joshua Palmer in stride, and you’ll be fine.

On the Jacksonville side of things, they must be riding high after winning the division at home last week. I just hope they didn’t peak with that moment. I don’t want them to go into this game thinking, “We’re at home, we’re just going to duplicate last week’s game.”

Can’t think like that.

Like the Chargers, the Jaguars can be dangerous on offence. If you want to look at the stats, you can look at the stats. My gut tells me the Jaguars might struggle to get things going in this game and “halftime adjustments” will be the theme of the broadcast.

Maybe the funk of two straight seasons at the bottom of the league is still lingering, but I feel like this game is akin to the first day of high school for them. Everything and everyone seems bigger. I don’t know if they’ll be able to handle it, until it’s too late.

Prediction: Chargers Win, 30 – 24

Miami Dolphins (7) at Buffalo Bills (2)

The Miami Dolphins were a really good story for the first three weeks of the season. Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle were doing their “best show on turf: grass edition” impersonation.

If you look at the Dolphins schedule this season, they: Won 3, Lost 3, Won 5, Lost 5, Won 1.

I’m going to spoil my prediction and tell you I think we can add a “Lost 1” to the end of that sequence and make it perfectly symmetrical because I think their chances of defeating the Bills is less than 0.

Why? Well, They’re starting their rookie third string quarterback, Skylar Thompson. Plus, they’re on the road, at Orchard Park, in front of Bills Mafia, with Josh Allen on the other side, and an entire franchise that is inspired by the recovery and presence of Damar Hamlin.

This is the definition of “stacking the deck”.

I’m sure the Dolphins won’t go down without a fight. It just won’t be a close fight. They won’t have Raheem Mostert, so Jeff Wilson Jr. is going to play a vital role in the running game. Beyond him, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle need to touch the ball as much as possible.

I don’t care if they have to run end-arounds and WR Screens on every other play, put the ball in their hands and let them be the YAC monsters that fantasy football managers know they are.

I do not believe the Bills are invincible, but this week, they are.

Prediction: Bills Win, 27 – 10

New York Giants (6) at Minnesota Vikings (3)

I finally figured out the Minnesota Vikings. They are the #2 seed in the NCAA March Madness tournament. Only they believe they were deserving of a #1 seed, while everyone else is like, “Yeah, they’re just lucky they got #2 in the first place.”

And then when everyone’s filling out their bracket, a small school with the 15th seed is a popular upset pick. Insert George Mason, Oral Roberts, etc. here.

The Vikings are the good team that you cannot trust. Their defence is going to give up points. Their offence will have to try and keep up, which they are very well capable of doing. Let’s not discount Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. When they are on, they are on.

But did the Packers give the rest of the league a blueprint as to how to stop Justin Jefferson? Maybe. We’ll see.

This is the perfect first matchup for the New York Giants because its a defence they can pick apart with Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Will they? Again, we’ll see. I don’t think the Giants are going to be intimidated on either side of the football. I can see their defence making a big play early in the game that swings momentum their way.

The key for the Giants will be to hang onto the momentum as long as they can. They can’t get complacent or celebrate too soon. I don’t want to see the entire defence run to the other end zone for a photo session after an interception 8 minutes into the 1st quarter. You need to be more locked in than that.

This is a tough one for me to predict because my heart says Giants.

Prediction: Vikings Win, 34 – 28

Baltimore Ravens (6) at Cincinatti Bengals (3)

The Ravens are in the same boat as the Dolphins this week.

Lamar Jackson is out and Tyler Huntley is dealing with a shoulder issue, which means they may have to rely their rookie third string quarterback, Anthony Brown. Brown faced the Bengals last week and completed 19 of 44 passes for 286 yards and 2 interceptions.

The Ravens aren’t announcing who their starting quarterback will be ahead of Sunday. That leaves the door open for Huntley to start, but I think the Ravens are just playing games with the Bengals here and forcing them to prepare for two guys, “just in case”.

That’s fine. The Ravens need to play all the games they can think of. We talk about football being a game with three phases. Well, their defence and special teams need to score at least one touchdown on Sunday, if not more. Failing that, they need to put the offence in good field position.

I’m talking about drives that start near midfield, so all the Ravens need to do is run the ball 15-20 yards to get Justin Tucker in range. Don’t be surprised when the Ravens send him out to kick 59-yard field goals all day.

Sure, punting the ball away and playing the “field position battle” is important, but I’m trusting Tucker to make those long kicks, unless there is a swirling wind. The Ravens need to take the points as often as they can.

The Bengals are a great team. That’s it.

Prediction: Bengals Win, 24 – 12

Dallas Cowboys (5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)

I see the Dallas Cowboys as the older brother who dominates their younger sibling at sports, until they get bored and let them win some. And then they remember they get tired of their sibling’s incessant celebration, so they get back to squashing hopes and dreams.

In football terms, the Cowboys could put up 40 points whenever they want. But then there are times like in Week 18, where they put up 6 points against the Commanders and you wonder what happened.

I see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as that person who goes places with their friends, but never initiates the plan to go out. Once they are out and about, they are fine and happy. But they aren’t the one to say, “Hey, let’s do this.” It is not in their nature.

What I mean by that is, the Buccaneers regularly found themselves in close games this season. It may have taken them three and a half quarters to get anything going, but once they did, they thrived. It’s like their opponent is pulling the performance out of them until they finally acquiesce.

Tom Brady is 7-0 against the Cowboys. I don’t know if that means anything, unless it does.

I think the Cowboys have a lot to prove, but I also think the Buccaneers have a lot to prove as well. We weren’t talking about a Tom Brady-led team this season the same way we normally do. I’m sure the Buccaneers want to change the narrative.

This is a tough one to pick because I could see two very different outcomes happening. The first one being the Cowboys blowing the doors off the Buccaneers and the cameras focussing on a dejected Tom Brady sitting on the bench in the 4th quarter as the commentators ask, “Is this it?”

Or, the Buccaneers will win a close game that will come down to the wire.

Prediction: Buccaneers Win, 30 – 27

Who are your picks to win this weekend?

Twitter: @CappyTalks

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