NFL Wildcard Weekend BOLD Picks and Predictions

By Antwon Smith
Jan. 04, 2018

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It's wildcard weekend in the NFL and it's win or go home this time of the year. Last year's two Super Bowl contestants made it back and they are looking to make another run, so here's my picks for this weekend:

Saturday's games

Titans @ Chiefs

The Titans have been up and down all season, but they managed to get in anyway. Marcus Mariota has been very turnover prone the second half of the season, but against this KC defense he will have to be the X factor. Tennessee's strength is the running game, but Demarco Murray will not play, so look for Derrick Henry to get a bulk of the carries. The Chiefs have to also not make mistakes but that something they do very well. Alex Smith protects the ball and RB Kareem Hunt is a game changing type player, but Kansas City's defense as I said early will be the key. Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson have to use their experience to guide this team to a win.

Key matchup: Marcus Mariota vs Chiefs front 7

Mariota has stuggled and the Chiefs rush the quarterback as well as any team in the NFL, so if the Titans are to pull the upset Mariota will have to take them.

Prediction:

Chiefs 24 Titans 13

Falcons @ Rams

This may be the most anticipated and exciting game of the weekend, with two offenses that can put up points. Atlanta was a Super Bowl team last season and they are looking to make a strong run. Matt Ryan is the key to that happening, however the Rams have one of the most dominant defensive players in the game, so look for Donald to try to disrupt the timing of the Falcons offense. The two offensive stars Julio Jones and Todd Gurley will be the focal points of the both offenses, so the key maybe with defense can stop the offensive playmaker of the other team.

Key matchup: Julio Jones vs Rams secondary

Los Angeles has been hit a lot the by the injury bug in the back in of the secondary, so the defensive live will have to get pressure constantly. If Julio gets any breaks on the line or gets any opening's it'll be a long day for the back in for that defense.

Prediction:

Falcons 27 Rams 23

Sunday's games

Bills @ Jaguars

Buffalo has been a surprise all season simply because they traded some of their key players, so they have been playing off of great chemistry. Tyrod Taylor has been able to keep the ship steady but may be without Shady McCoy who will be a game time decision. The Jaguars will solely depend on how well their QB Blake Bortles plays and how their young receiver core can adjust to a playoff atmosphere. Jacksonville's defense is strong so it shouldn't be any question that they will hold their end of the deal.

Key matchup: Tyrod Taylor vs Jags Defense

This matchup is key on so many levels, if Taylor can get any kind of run game going it will open up the jags defense and the passing game, whether its a screen, a scramble or a deep pass, Taylor will have to find way to move the football. If he can do that, they have a chance.

Prediction:

Jaguars 20 Bills 14

Panthers @ Saints

These two NFC south rivals go into round 3 ready to slug it out in New Orleans. The Panthers and Saints are two of the top defensive teams and strongly depend on the running game. That's why the team that can make the big plays the passing game will likely be the victor this contest. Drew Brees and Cam Newton have a special skill set that they both will have to use. Drew with his precision passing and Cam with his dual threat ability. Keep an eye out Sunday on these superstar quarterbacks.

Key matchup: Panthers run game vs Saints Front 7

The Panthers rely heavily on their run game which sets up their pass game. If they can't get Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey going early, then its likely they will not be able to keep up. The Saints can move the ball, so keeping Brees on the sideline may be the biggest key.

Prediction:

Saints 30 Panthers 20

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