Last Week’s Record: 9-7
Final Regular Season Record: 167-89 (65.2%)
Tennessee was extremely fortunate to face a Jacksonville team who had nothing to play for in week 17, and played like it. Prior to that, this Titans team had lost 4 of its last 6 games, with the two wins coming against the rather pathetic Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. Kansas City is riding a 4-game winning streak into the playoffs, and appear to have recovered from their mid season slide. This shouldn’t be close, as Alex Smith will be back under center for the Andy Reid’s squad.
Atlanta Falcons @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams season finale loss to San Francisco surprised me at first, until I realized that not one of Los Angeles’s starters played. That extra week of rest is always helpful heading into the playoffs, especially for a Rams team with players who aren’t used to playing at this time of the year. Meanwhile, the Falcons enter the playoffs in rough shape health wise, as notable stars on the offensive side (Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Taylor Gabriel) all took major hits in Sunday’s win over Carolina and are unlikely to be 100% this weekend. The Rams top scoring offense will be rested and firing on all cylinders, and their dream season will continue another week.
Buffalo Bills @ Jacksonville Jaguars
So, who had the Bills and the Jaguars in the playoffs before the season started? No one? That’s what I figured. Buffalo finally ended its 17-year playoff drought, but face a tough test against the league’s toughest defense in Jacksonville, who finished 2nd in the NFL in sacks, interceptions, and total defense. A tall task already, LeSean McCoy was carted off the field with an ankle injury last weekend and is going to be a “close call” for Sunday’s game, meaning best case scenario, he won’t be at 100%. Buffalo shocked a lot of people by making the playoffs, but won’t surprise many with an early exit.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
A divisional rivalry should make for a great end to Wild Card Weekend, with a marque quarterback match up between Drew Brees and Cam Newton. The Saints went 2-0 against Carolina in the regular season, winning by double digits in each and holding the Panthers under 300 yards in each. New Orleans made huge strides this seasonal defensively, and with rookie corner Marshon Lattimore shutting down opponents this season, Carolina’s passing game will likely struggle. Oh, and let us not forget the 2-headed monster, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, in the Saints backfield.