Each week through the 2019 season, former NFL defensive back and current BBC analyst Jason Bell will highlight five things to look out for that weekend. Watch Jason twice a week on the BBC.
Here are some key things to look out for on Wild Card Weekend.
This will be a tough game. Luckily for the Houston Texans they will be at home. The main thing I'll be looking at is Deshaun Watson and that passing attack on offense verses the top pass defense of the Buffalo Bills. Watson has always had success against top pass defenses. The Texans will be depending on his ability to throw down the field. On defense they need to stop the run. This weekend will see the return of JJ Watt which will help in that area. The Bills will be looking to have success with their physical running game, but I think the Texans will get the win.
The Tennessee Titans are one of the hottest teams in the league and they are playing well. Ryan Tannehill is the highest rating passer and Derrick Henry is leading the league in rushing. They also have their electric receiver AJ Brown. However, the New England Patriots defense is still a dominant force. After what happened against Miami last week, I can't see the Patriots playing bad again. Bill Belichick and his coaching staff are too experienced for that and they will find a way to win. Mike Vrabel is not scared of the Patriots at all so this team will be ready. I think the Patriots can keep this game tight and below 20 points. It will be a nail bitter and probably come down to some big special teams plays but I just can't see the Patriots losing again at home.
It's hard to beat the New Orleans Saints at home in their own stadium. Drew Brees has been in fine form, especially these last four games. Him and Michael Thomas are doing special things and the Saints are looking great. The Minnesota Vikings have struggled lately in their offense, they haven't been running the ball well. Kirk Cousins hasn't been too great as a passer in this last quarter of the season. So, it feels like these two teams are going in different directions. On defense the Saints are good at stopping the run, something the Vikings are going to have to establish if they have any chance of winning this game.
You've got to give the Philadelphia Eagles a lot of credit for what they have been able to do with all their injuries. They literally have limped into the playoffs. They should be very happy to have Carson Wentz as their long-term Quarterback of the future. This is his first career playoff start and I'm excited for him. The problem for the Eagles is they have another injury on offensive line with Brandon Brooks along with Lane Johnson getting hurt, that was their strength. When you have two guys on the same side get hurt that really affects you. I think that will hinder their ability to move the ball. The Seattle Seahawks' defense hasn't been great, but I think they will have enough on offense to get through. With what Russell Wilson can do and the magic he can make they should be able to score enough points to win the game. It's not going to be easy for them going to Philadelphia on the East Coast, but they have been training early in the mornings, so they are ready for this.
What will the bye teams be doing?
When you look at the teams that are on the bye, I'm focusing on the Ravens because they are getting healthy. Mark Andrews and Mark Ingram were both injured so the two weeks rest is really going to help them. The bye week is so important for all of the teams. It's all about getting healthy and also an extra week of film preparation. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid does well when he has extra time to prepare for an opponent. Teams will be getting a lot of rest and recuperation, but they'll also be preparing well. Having the week off gives you a lot of advantages and that's why team work hard in the season to get one.