Wild Card Preview: Part One

Author: Sam Gemini

MADISON – Let’s break down Saturday’s playoff matchups for this year’s wild card weekend.

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills

Despite the fact that these are seeds two and seven, the first game of Super Wild Card Weekend is riveting. The Colts are a very complete team with veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and rookie running back Jonathan Taylor. They also have a strong offensive line and a top ten defense that ranks second in the league in rushing yards against. The trouble is, Buffalo is the hottest team in football. Josh Allen has developed into an elite quarterback in the NFL with a completion percentage of sixty-nine point two percent, thirty-seven touchdowns, ten interceptions and a rating of 107.2. This will be a serious problem for Indianapolis, whose biggest weakness is the pass defense. Give me Allen and the Bills’ offense in a high-scoring game, 42-31.

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Take the opposite of every aspect of Bills-Colts, and that’s what we have in this NFC West showdown. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen anything like what has happened with Seattle. The first seven weeks of the season, this defense was a pile of hot garbage and Russell Wilson was looking like the sure MVP, carrying them to a record of 6-1. Since then, Wilson and the passing game have inexplicably deteriorated, and suddenly the defense that was pathetic out of the gates has become the driving force of this team heading into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Rams – whose offense was stagnant enough with Jared Goff at the helm – may have to go to Seattle with backup John Wolford, a very athletic but very inaccurate quarterback who made his first NFL start in Week 17. Los Angeles would have no hope if it weren’t for its defense, which is, quite simply, the best in the world. I love a lot of aspects of the Rams’ team, but I simply cannot trust their quarterback. Expect the punters to earn their money as Seattle wins 16-10 if Goff plays or 23-3 if not.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team

This Saturday night special has the potential to be much closer and more interesting than people realize. Tom Brady and Tampa Bay’s star-powered offense are heavily favored against the 7-9 Football Team that qualified for the postseason by winning the pitiful NFC East. The Washington offense certainly won’t put up points against the elite Buccaneers defense. But one thing has always been true about Brady: he does not like to get hit. Strong pass-rushes have made the legend’s life difficult in the past and thrown him off his game, and Washington’s good defense boasts one of the best pass-rushes in the league, led by monstrous rookie edge-rusher Chase Young.

This matchup also features one of the greatest comeback stories in sports history – the story of Washington quarterback Alex Smith. After breaking his leg and contracting a serious infection from surgery, the doctors went from hoping he could play football again, to hoping he wouldn’t have to lose the leg, to hoping they could save his life. Two years removed from the injury, Smith defied all odds by returning to the field midway through this season and leading Washington to the playoffs. It would be an incredible cap to an all-time comeback if Smith could win a playoff game.

Unfortunately for Washington, Chase Young felt the need to publicly talk smack about Tom Brady, saying he is “coming” for him, and: “I want Tom.” I guess he saw how well that worked for Jamaal Williams and the Packers, who got slaughtered 38-10 by Tampa after Williams publicly called out Brady. I don’t understand what would possess Young – who has done exactly nothing in his career and only made the playoffs because he’s in the worst division in history – to challenge the greatest football player who has ever lived. All of these storylines – and the fact that Washington is at home – make this one of the most fascinating games of the weekend. I’ll take the G.O.A.T. and Tampa Bay’s defense by a score of 24-13.