It’s deja vu, all over again in NFL Wild Card Weekend. Each of the six first-round playoff matchups has already happened this year — at least once. So we hope you like rematches because if not, you’re out of luck. Who are we kidding? It’s football. You’ll watch. And if you’re reading this, you’ll probably bet.
Get ready for the madness with our NFL Wild Card Weekend predictions column. All lines are as of Wednesday and courtesy of Caesars.
NFL Predictions: Wild Card Weekend
Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
49ers -10; 49ers -475, Seahawks +380; O/U 42.5
Winners of 10 straight, the San Francisco 49ers are the NFL’s hottest team. And they’re probably the NFL’s best team, from top to bottom, as well. That includes at quarterback, where Brock Purdy has a chance to follow a path first tread by another Bay Area QB.
Injury forced little-known and lightly-regarded Tom Brady into the lineup in 2001, and he turned opportunity into hardware, leading the New England Patriots to their first of six Super Bowl titles. But compared to Purdy, Brady entered the league as a can’t-miss prospect.
MORE: Early NFL Wild Card Round Predictions and Picks Against the Spread
Purdy, just nine months ago, was the last player taken in the NFL draft. On Saturday, he’ll become the first Mr. Irrelevant to start a playoff game at quarterback.
Since taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 13, Purdy has completed 67.1% of his passes for 1,374 yards, 13 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He ranks sixth over that stretch in EPA+CPOE composite (.122), ahead of the likes of Trevor Lawrence, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow.
So even with Geno Smith’s dream season, there might not be a single positional matchup that favors the Seattle Seahawks in this game. But don’t take our word for it. Simply look at the season series, which the Niners swept by an average of 14 points per game.
Adam Beasley: 49ers 28, Seahawks 16
Dalton Miller: 49ers 30, Seahawks 23
Dallas Robinson: 49ers 29, Seahawks 22
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Chargers -1.5; Chargers -125, Jaguars +105; O/U 47.5
Trevor Lawrence vs. Justin Herbert sounds like a great way to spend Saturday night. They’re big. They’re strong. And they’re both going to be around for a long time.
Lawrence has been on an absolute heater, throwing 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions over his last nine games. The Jags won seven of those nine to storm into the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Lawrence’s success rate since the beginning of that run in Week 9 — 53.2% — is third-best in football.
The Jaguars have won five straight, scoring 146 points during that stretch. In other words, Jacksonville is a much better team than when the Jags and Bolts met early in the regular season — and that’s bad news for Los Angeles.
The Jaguars stomped the Chargers at SoFi 38-10. A big reason why: The Jaguars owned the line of scrimmage, out-rushing the Chargers 151-26.
Adam Beasley: Jaguars 27, Chargers 21
Dalton Miller: Jaguars 24, Chargers 20
Dallas Robinson: Jaguars 25, Chargers 21
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
Bills -13; Bills -750, Dolphins +535; O/U 43.5
There’s no crying in baseball, but there should be some sympathy in football. Because the Miami Dolphins will almost certainly look back in 2022 as a “what could have been?” situation. At or near full strength, the Dolphins would have a real chance against the Buffalo Bills.
The Dolphins and Bills split the season series, with Miami winning at home by 2 and Buffalo winning at home by 3. But Tua Tagovailoa started those games. He’s out Sunday with a concussion. And backup Teddy Bridgewater is no sure thing either. That means Skylar Thompson is in line to start behind a patchwork offensive line.
And as a reminder: Josh Allen absolutely owns the Dolphins. His career splits against Miami are absurd: 8-2 as a starter with 27 passing touchdowns (plus four rushing), five interceptions, a passer rating of 106.1, and 8.74 average passing yards per attempt.
Adam Beasley: Bills 31, Dolphins 17
Dalton Miller: Bills 33, Dolphins 16
Dallas Robinson: Bills 31, Dolphins 14
New York Giants vs. Minnesota Vikings
Vikings -3; Vikings -165, Giants +140; O/U 48
Fraud Bowl! OK, that’s not nice. But it’s not altogether inaccurate.
The Giants are 21st in DVOA. The Vikings are 27th. The Giants are 25th in net yards per drive. The Vikings are 22nd. The Giants are 24th in yard differential. The Vikings are 26th. The Giants are 16th in point differential. The Vikings are 15th. (Both are underwater in that pretty revealing stat.)
So these might not be great teams. But that doesn’t mean they won’t play a great game. As the stats suggest, these are two evenly matched clubs, and their regular season meeting — which Minnesota won 27-24 at home — bore that out.
The Vikings won on a 61-yard Greg Joseph field goal as time expired — one of 11 one-score Vikings victories this season.
Adam Beasley: Vikings 25, Giants 23
Dalton Miller: Vikings 28, Giants 21
Dallas Robinson: Giants 26, Vikings 24
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Bengals -7.5; Bengals -345, Ravens +270; O/U 42
Another intra-division showdown. Another game that will depend on the health of one team’s starting quarterback. Lamar Jackson missed the last five games of the regular season with a knee injury but could be back for Sunday’s game.
It’s hard to see how the Ravens can win without him. They have scored just 65 points in the five games he’s missed, and Jackson’s backup — Tyler Huntley — is banged up as well. An available Lamar Jackson at 90% isn’t ideal. But it’s far better than third-stringer Anthony Brown at 100.
MORE: Ravens vs. Bengals Prediction
We don’t have to imagine what Brown would look like against the Cincinnati Bengals. We have a pretty good data point from just last week. Brown completed just 19 of 44 passes for 286 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions in a 27-16 Week 18 loss to Cincinnati.
The Bengals know who their quarterback will be. Joe Burrow finished sixth in passer rating this season (100.8), although he wasn’t overly impressive in games against the Ravens in 2022. Baltimore limited Burrow to 5.6 yards per attempt and a passer rating of just 81.7 in their two meetings.
Adam Beasley: Bengals 23, Ravens 20
Dalton Miller: Bengals 27, Ravens 21
Dallas Robinson: Bengals 27, Ravens 17
Dallas Cowboys vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cowboys -2.5; Cowboys -145, Buccaneers +122; O/U 45.5
This will be the third time the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet in the last 17 months. The Buccaneers won each of the previous two meetings, including a 19-3 defensive masterpiece in Week 1 of the 2022 season.
The Cowboys were bad on offense to start the season. And they were bad on offense to end the season. Much of the blame has been directed at Dak Prescott, and justifiably so.
MORE: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Prediction
Prescott threw a league-high 15 interceptions in just 12 games this season and saved his worst for last. Prescott went 14 of 37 for 128 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a Week 18 loss to the Washington Commanders. His passer rating in that game — 45.8 — was the third-worst of his career and his worst in more than five years.
Tom Brady, meanwhile, seems to have gotten his act together at the best possible time. Brady, since Week 17, has completed 47 of 62 passes for 516 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Could Mike McCarthy be one-and-done again? It’s certainly possible.
Adam Beasley: Cowboys 25, Buccaneers 20
Dalton Miller: Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 23
Dallas Robinson: Buccaneers 27, Cowboys 24
Regular Season Records
Adam Beasley: 165-104-2 straight up, 122-140-9 against the spread
Dalton Miller: 164-105-2, 118-144-9
Dallas Robinson: 175-94-2, 125-137-9