Published: Jan. 3, 2020 at 10:18 a.m.
Updated: Jan. 3, 2020 at 01:46 p.m.

Which Wild Card Weekend team is most likely to earn an upset win?

Print

Intrigue abounds heading into the first round of the NFL playoffs, especially with the reigning champion New England Patriots making their first Wild Card Weekend appearance since 2009. They are one of four teams that will host a game this weekend. The AFC tilts kick things off on Saturday, followed by two NFC contests on Sunday:

Saturday, Jan. 4

» No. 5 Buffalo Bills at No. 4 Houston Texans; 4:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
» No. 6 Tennessee Titans at No. 3 New England Patriots; 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS

Sunday, Jan. 5

» No. 6 Minnesota Vikings at No. 3 New Orleans Saints; 1:05 p.m. ET, FOX
» No. 5 Seattle Seahawks at No. 4 Philadelphia Eagles; 4:40 p.m. ET, NBC

Which lower seed is most likely to earn an upset this weekend?

Bills advance to Divisional Round for first time since 1995
Everything has aligned for the Tennessee Titans to beat the New England Patriots, but that's not my upset pick. To be honest, a Titans victory wouldn't feel like an upset at all given the state of those two teams right now. Instead, I'm going to stick with the Buffalo Bills, who I've been backing since last summer. Sean McDermott has a dangerous team that's built to win on the road in Houston with a stout defense, explosive run game and a young quarterback who's ready to take the next step.
Titans ride Derrick Henry to road win
The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans are trending in opposite directions heading into Wild Card Weekend. Tom Brady struggled down the stretch, while Ryan Tannehill played some of the best football of his career. But as well as Tannehill has played, I expect the Titans to lean on Derrick Henry to extend drives and control the clock. This season's rushing champion has been incredible since Week 10, running for 896 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing Week 16 with a hamstring injury. The Titans have all the tools to stick it to New England. That's exactly what they'll do Saturday in Foxborough, ending the Patriots' quest for a seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Russell Wilson leads Seahawks to win in Philly for second time this season
The lower seed feels like a near-favorite to me in three of these games. The Vikings have the toughest task of the four lower seeds, as they have to visit the Saints. However, the team most likely to earn an upset is Seattle. I mentioned in my Offensive Player Rankings earlier in the week that Russell Wilson has been the difference-maker for the Seahawks this season. The banged-up Philadelphia Eagles have done a great job getting to this point considering the number of injuries they have overcome, but I don't think they have enough juice to overcome Wilson and Co., even though Seattle is dealing with injury woes of its own.
Buffalo's defense dominates vs. Texans
The Buffalo Bills will defeat the Houston Texans thanks to Sean McDermott's No. 2 scoring defense. This unit allowed more than 24 points only once this season (Week 8 vs. Philly) and is built to quiet Deshaun Watson and Co. The highlight of this game will be Tre'Davious White shutting down DeAndre Hopkins. White did not allow a single pass TD in coverage this season, and his 84 targets without allowing a TD are 30 more than the next-best CB (Denver's Isaac Yiadom allowed zero TDs on 54 targets), per Pro Football Focus. The young cornerback is playing at a high level at the perfect time. He'll force Watson to try to make plays with his favorite target blanketed, ultimately causing Houston to fall short.
Seattle Seahawks can make deep playoff run
The Seahawks are considered an "underdog" as a wild-card team this weekend, so technically, they would qualify as an upset candidate. Thus, I'm rolling with Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and Seattle to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles. I mean, come on. The Seahawks were ONE INCH away from clinching the NFC West and hosting a game this weekend. They are the best road team of Wild Card Weekend and will advance to the Divisional Round.
Print

Related Stories: