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Wild Card Weekend Predictions

The NFL has six games slated for the weekend
Gary Jackson, a Green Bay Packers fan, watches an NFL game as he prepares to watch several of the games slated for this weekend.
Preston Palm
Gary Jackson, a Green Bay Packers fan, watches an NFL game as he prepares to watch several of the games slated for this weekend.

With the regular season coming to a close, it’s time for postseason football. Post season couldn’t come soon enough.  

This season was filled with so many memorable moments and surprises like the Houston Texans. They finished the 2022-2023 season going 3-13-1, ending up with the second overall draft pick in last year’s NFL draft. The Texans selected quarterback CJ Stroud with that pick and it didn’t take long for Stroud to find his groove in the league. The rookie quarterback is almost guaranteed to win Offensive Rookie of the Year and was in the MVP discussion during the regular season. Stroud and the Texans had a 10-7 overall record this season and secured a playoff spot in their week 18 win against the Indianapolis Colts. 

Another big story line during the season was the Philadelphia Eagles, and not for good reason, even after starting the season with a 10-1 record, there were still questions surrounding the Eagles, about their defense and quarterback Jalen Hurts level of play compared to last season when they went to the Super Bowl. The Eagles have been atrocious on defense as they ranked 26th in the NFL according to Fox Sports. Along with the terrible defense, the Eagles finished their last six games of the regular season 1-5.  

There’s been many great storylines this season, but Wild Card Weekend is here. It looks to be filled with great matchups, so these are my predictions for Wild Card Weekend.  


Cleveland Browns vs Houston Texans (Saturday, Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m.; streaming on NBC) 

Maybe the two biggest surprise teams of this season face off this weekend, starting with Cleveland. Week two, their best player, running back Nick Chubb gets injured with a torn ACL and MCL and is out for the rest of the season. Later in the season, their starting quarterback Deshaun Watson got hurt with a shoulder injury and is out for the season as well. So how do the Browns find themselves 11-6 with a playoff game? The answer is Joe Flacco, it’s unbelievable how he and the Browns have looked like world beaters since they signed the 38-year-old player. He is turning back the clock with how well he’s played since signing with Cleveland in week 12. He isn’t the only reason for their success though, the Browns defense has allowed the least amount of offensive yards out of all NFL teams and has been the reason they won most of their games.  

Houston wasn’t supposed to be here either though. Stroud has been phenomenal this season and along with the new receivers they have this season, the Houston offense has looked great ranking 12th overall in the league said Fox Sports. While the Texans have played above expectations, the Browns might be the biggest threat to the number one seed Baltimore Ravens in the AFC. I think the Browns will bring Stroud back to earth and beat the Texans.  


Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins (Saturday, Jan. 13 at 7:10 p.m.; streaming on Peacock) 

Miami is one of the hardest teams to judge at this point in the season. They’ve shown flashes of greatness, but for the most part, when they face other good teams, they’ve come up short. Last week when they faced off against the Buffalo Bills with the division title on the line, they lost that game 21-14. However, when you have wide receiver Tyreek Hill as your best weapon and he’s playing against his former team, then points will be scored on offense. While Hill is electric, their other weapons might not participate as wide receiver Jaylen Waddle and running back Raheem Mostert are both listed as questionable going into this weekend.  

The Chiefs have had their fair share of problems as well though. This is without question the worst offense that quarterback Patrick Mahomes has had at his disposal in his career. The wide receiver core has dropped the most passes in the NFL and been inconsistent all year and while they have tight end Travis Kelce, he alone hasn’t always been enough to carry the offense this season.  

While both teams have question marks, it’s hard to go against the best quarterback in the NFL in Mahomes. Not to mention it’s also supposed to be freezing temperatures in Kansas City so that gives the Chiefs an advantage over Miami. I believe the Chiefs will send the Dolphins home in this playoff bout. 


Pittsburgh Steelers vs Buffalo Bills (Sunday, Jan. 14 at 12 p.m.; streaming on CBS) 

This matchup is probably the easiest to pick out of the Wild Card games taking place this week. Not only were the Steelers favored to lose when their best player, linebacker TJ Watt was healthy, but he’s now ruled out of the game. This makes them even more of an underdog to beat the red-hot Buffalo Bills led by quarterback Josh Allen. The Steelers even being in a playoff position is a testament to head coach Mike Tomlin and how great he is at leading a football team. He now has 17 consecutive years of achieving a winning record.  

The Steelers just don’t have enough to overcome the Bills, who over the past few weeks have been playing their best football, winning their last seven games. Buffalo finished the year 11-6 and won the AFC East. Allen led the league for touchdowns thrown this season and should be able to exploit the Steelers defense this weekend. Pittsburgh will do their best but ultimately fall to the Bills. 


Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, Jan. 14 at 3:30 p.m.; streaming on FOX) 

In the first-year post Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are in a rebuild year and have found themselves a spot in the playoffs as they go up against the Cowboys. Quarterback Jordan Love has been solid this season, and while Love struggled at first, he has been consistent since week 11. He has thrown 18 touchdowns to one interception over the last eight weeks. However, Green Bay doesn’t have enough for Dallas, who has an explosive offense led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who with the second highest quarterback rating in the NFL and one of the best wide receivers in the league, Ceedee Lamb. Dallas also has a scary defense on all levels, Pass rusher/linebacker Micah Parsons is one of the best players in the NFL, making 14 sacks on the season. Along with that, their secondary leads the NFL in pick sixes. I think Dallas will win this game by a wide margin and advance to the NFL divisional playoff round. 


Los Angeles Rams vs. Detroit Lions (Sunday, Jan. 14 at 7:15 p.m.; streaming on NBC) 

This is where Wild Card Weekend gets fun. After spending his first 12 seasons in Detroit, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford makes his return in an attempt to spoil the great season the Lions have had. This will also be the first home playoff game in Detroit in 30 years, and it’s fitting that it comes against one of the best quarterbacks to put on their uniform.  

The Rams have found some young gems in wide receiver Puka Nacua, who broke the rookie receiving record in a season. Along with Nacua, running back Kyren Williams ran for 12 touchdowns and 1,144 yards this season despite only playing 12 games this season. Detroit has an elite running back pair in David Montgomery and rookie Jahmir Gibbs who have over 1900 rushing yards combined this season 

Detroit’s Achilles heel this season has been their secondary which only has nine interceptions on the entire season. With Stafford and the Rams’ skill players coming in healthy, the Rams can spoil the Lions return to the playoffs in his revenge game. I predict the Rams will beat Detroit with Stafford’s return.


Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday, Jan. 15 at 8:15 p.m.; streaming on ESPN/ABC) 

What in the world is going on with Philly? Finishing the season in turmoil going 1-5 in their final six games, last year’s Super Bowl runner up has looked mediocre and at times bad this season. Their “tush push” offense has been seemingly predictable, and their defense has struggled against teams that they shouldn’t have trouble with. Hurts has been decent but not great like he was last season as he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are in a perfect position to upset the Eagles as they won the NFC South division and will have homefield advantage 

Numbers wise, quarterback Baker Mayfield has been on par, if not better than Hurts this season. He has more touchdowns thrown with less interceptions and throwing for more passing yards. This is the perfect opportunity for Tampa Bay to make a statement at home and beat the Eagles while they seem to be more vulnerable than ever. My prediction is tht the Bucs will beat the Eagles in a low scoring game.


Preston Palm is a third-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributor
Preston Palm, Senior Writer
Preston is a fourth-year communication major from Boone, North Carolina.   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: Aug. 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - July 2023