Updated: Sep 6
NFL Predictions: NFC Wild Card Playoffs
Written by: Andrew Felton
After reviewing the AFC wild card playoffs previously, it's time to look at the NFC wild card weekend and which games will be the ones to watch.
Making it through to the wild card playoffs are the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and last year's Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with the Green Bay Packers through as the Number one seed.
NFC Wild Card Playoff Games
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Rams
This is arguably one of the best match ups across the whole wild card playoff games. With the Arizona Cardinals finishing the season with an 11-6 record, including a nine-game winning streak, only halted by injuries from week 10 onwards to Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, JJ Watt and Budda Baker. The Rams were NFC West divisional champions with a 12-5 record and had an impressive season, thanks to the key signings of Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller, turning this Rams team into somewhat of a super team.
The Cardinals will be hoping their dual threat quarterback Kyler Murray, can secure them a spot in the next round, after a season which saw him throw 3,787 yards passing, 24 passing touchdowns, 423 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. The Cardinals also have a strong running back in James Conner who provided a total of 18 touchdowns, with a host of receivers such as Christian Kirk, A.J Green, Zach Ertz and DeAndre Hopkins all looking to help take Arizona to a Super Bowl. A new quarterback for the Rams saw Matthew Stafford come into the fold and contribute 4,886 passing yards, along with 41 touchdowns. Similar to the Cardinals, the Rams have an impressive arsenal of receiving targets, which include record breaker Cooper Kupp who had 1,947 receiving yards, with 16 touchdowns, Van Jefferson, Tyler Higbee, Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr and Desean Jackson. As well as the receiving threats, Los Angeles have a strong running game which includes Sony Michel, Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers who has had a miraculous recovery from an Achilles injury, just in time for the playoffs. The Los Angeles Rams have also built a strong defense including one of the best defensive players in the league with Aaron Darnold, supported by Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller.
With this game set to be a fantastic spectacle, we should see the Los Angeles Rams take the win in a high scoring game, due to what is possibly the best all round team in these playoffs.
Winner - Los Angeles Rams
Score prediction - Arizona Cardinals 34 - 41
San Francisco 49ers vs Dallas Cowboys
The 49ers have quietly gone about their business this season with an impressive 10-7 record and a place in the wild card playoffs, that possibly was not expected at the start of the season. They go up against a Dallas Cowboys team who are desperate to be in the Super Bowl with high expectations from owners and fans, who would have been pleased with the 12-5 winning record this season, thanks to their strong offense.
After reaching the Super Bowl in 2020, the 49ers will look at their key players in wide receiver Deebo Samuel who impressed with 1,405 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns, 365 rushing yards with 8 touchdowns, tight end George Kittle, rookie running back Elijah Mitchell, who rushed for 963 yards in just 11 games due to a knee injury and defensive star Joey Bosa who recorded 15.5 sacks this season, as they look to once again reach the playoffs. Progressing will be no easy feat as they face a Dallas Cowboys team who have a whole list of star players, starting with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott who featured in the top 10 for both passing yards with 4,449 and passing touchdowns with 37. A dual threat of running backs with Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard, who rushed for a combined 1,721 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns, with threats in the receiving positions from players such as Ceedee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Dalton Schultz who combined for 20 receiving touchdowns. Not only does the offense standout, but the Cowboys have strength on defense with linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs who led the league in interceptions, recording an impressive 11.
Comparing what both teams have to offer on both offense and defense, it is hard to look past a win for the Dallas Cowboys, thanks to plenty of options on offense and a cornerback who will most likely pull off a pick 6 for the favorites.
Winner - Dallas Cowboys
Score Prediction - San Francisco 49ers 10 - 44 Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Coming second in the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles will have a road game against the current NFL champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which could either be a fantastic battle between the Eagles and Tom Brady or a complete blowout, in favor of the current champions.
There is no denying the fantastic job Jalen Hurts has done at quarterback this season for the Eagles, throwing for over 3,000 yards. The most impressive stat, however, is Hurts leads the Eagles regular season rushing yards with 784 yards and 10 touchdowns. It is hard to pick out many other stands out players for the Eagles, but rookie Devonta Smith showed why he was a worthy pick with 916 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns. This is compared to a Tampa Bay squad stacked with incredible talent starting with the goat Tom Brady, who is a front runner for the MVP award with 5,316 passing yards and 43 passing touchdowns, adding a huge 81 rushing yards, which has to be impressive for a 44-year-old quarterback. Not only do they have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, but they also have the luxury of two wide receivers with 1,000+ yards each in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans including 19 combined touchdowns, a veteran tight end call Rob Gronkowski who has added his fair share of big plays and Leonard Fournette who rushed for 812 yards in 14 games with 8 rushing touchdowns as well as 454 receiving yards showing his flexibility.
With all this said, it looks easy to choose a winner, with the Buccaneers making a strong case to breeze past the Eagles with not just a fine display from their all-round offense, but also with one of the better defenses entering these playoffs.
Winner - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Score Prediction - Philadelphia Eagles 14 - 38 Tampa Bay Buccaneers