Updated: Jun 3
NFL Predictions: AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Written by: Andrew Felton
With the longest NFL regular season finished and all the fantasy football leagues wrapped up, it is now time to look forward to the drama of the NFL playoffs, to see which team will be heading to Super Bowl LVI.
After a dramatic week 18 with the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the Indianapolis Colts, forcing them to miss out on a playoffs spot which was almost a certainty, the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off somewhat of a miracle, with the help of the Las Vegas Raiders, whose win in overtime against the Chargers, ended their season earlier than expected.
With this only being a little taste of what is in store, let's take a look at some predictions for this seasons AFC wild card weekend.
AFC Wild Card Playoff Games
Las Vegas Raiders vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Las Vegas raiders in a AFC wild card game, after what was a wild week 18 for the Raiders with a win or tie guaranteeing them a place in the playoffs, they took on the Chargers, who also only needed a tie to progress. With the game tied after regular time and heading into OT both teams were level until the last kick of the game, where the Raiders were able to clinch victory with a field goal and progress into a wild card place. The win does however, set up a game against high flying Bengals, led by Joe Burrow, who's fantastic season helped the Bengals become the AFC North division champions.
Both these teams have some fantastic individual players with Derek Carr, who was an MVP candidate through the first four games of the NFL season, throwing for 4,804 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, along with Josh Jacobs, who runs a solid ground game, ending up with 872 rushing yards, 9 rushing touchdowns and Hunter Renfrow, who's ridiculous running routes can lead to vital yards and touchdowns, providing 1,038 receiving yards along with 9 touchdowns. The Bengals however, boast one of the stronger offenses in the NFL, starting with quarterback Joe Burrow, who has had an incredible second season throwing 4,611 passing yards, along with 34 touchdowns. As well as, Joe Mixon who covers the vast majority of the ground touches with 1,205 yards, adding 13 touchdowns and also star wide receivers in OROTY candidate Ja'Marr Chase, who broke records for the Bengals with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns, backed up by fellow wide receiver Tee Higgins who also had over 1,000 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns.
With the Raiders riding their luck this season and arguably being one of the worst teams in these playoffs, the Bengals should brush past, taking a spot in the next round, with the offense looking to put on an entertaining display.
Winners - Cincinnati Bengals
Score Prediction - Las Vegas Raiders 17 - 38 Cincinnati Bengals
New England Patriots vs Buffalo Bills
This could be a close entertaining game, with the rookie Mac Jones trying to lead the Patriots back to the Super Bowl where this franchise have enjoyed so much success under Bill Belichick. However, it will not be easy going up against the AFC East champions the Buffalo Bills, who want to better their poor playoff display last season and show what this team can really do.
With Rookie Mac Jones playing a huge part in the Patriots success this season, after early questions on whether he was the right fit for this offense, he has proved he can handle himself in the NFL and is in talks to win OROTY, going up against Ja'Marr Chase. Jones threw for 3,801 yards, with 100+ rushing yards and 22 passing touchdowns. Helped by running back Damien Harris who has played his part in this Patriots offense with 926 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, with New England also having one of the best defenses in the league, looking to stop this Buffalo Bills side. The Bills however, are just as good on defense with players such as Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer always looking to pick off the opposing quarterback, linked to a strong offense, headed by dual-threat quarterback Josh Allen, who's 4,407 passing yards, 763 rushing yards and a combined 42 touchdowns, shows how dangerous Allen can be. The Bills also have one of the best receivers in the league with Stefon Diggs, who had another season with over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
This game could come down to the last play, with two impressive quarterbacks and strong defenses looking to shut out the opposition. However, the Bills may have that little extra talent to help make a game winning play in a clutch situation.
Winners - Buffalo Bills
Score Prediction - New England Patriots 21 - 23 Buffalo Bills
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
Big Ben's last game? I think it could be, after a dramatic week 18, with the Jaguars beating the Colts and a Steelers victory over the Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger's NFL career was extended for at least one more game, after plenty of talk about retirement. However, they are up against previous Super Bowl champions and last years runners up the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pittsburgh will be relying heavily on their first round draft pick Najee Harris, who has had a very impressive first season in the NFL with 1,200 rushing yards, ranking fourth amongst running backs, adding 7 rushing touchdowns and a respectable 467 receiving yards with 3 receiving touchdowns. The Steelers do also have a star wide receiver Diontae Johnson who will be looking to make big plays, adding to his 1,161 regular season receiving yards and 8 touchdowns, to try and overcome the Kansas City Chiefs. A win will not come easy against one of the best teams in the NFL over the past couple of seasons, with quarterback Patrick Mahomes looking for a second Super Bowl ring, after coming in the top 5 for passing yards and touchdowns, largely thanks to his army of wide receivers including Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Byron Pringle, alongside one of the best tight ends in the game Travis Kelce and a duo of running backs with Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, adding to a stacked offensive unit.
I'm not saying the Steelers will be a pushover and the Chiefs have had slow starts to games this season, I just feel Kansas City have too much fire power on offense to lose this one, being able to score in the air and on the ground with ease.
Winner - Kansas City Chiefs
Score Prediction - Pittsburgh Steelers 10 - 41 Kansas City Chiefs