Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Jeff Krisko, Football Absurdity Editor-in-Chief
The Texans now have the coveted “let’s get this out of the way” game each season. They host a team that is better than them in most aspects with the Bills. Buffalo will unleash their rushing game against a defense allowing the seventh-most rush yards per game. Take some timely deep bombs from Josh Allen, and you have yourself a Bills victory. Bills 30, Texans 24.
Waleed Ismail, Football Absurdity CFO
This is probably the toughest game to call. Buffalo is the number 2 scoring defense in football and a powerhouse. Their offense, on the other hand, is in the bottom third of the league. Meanwhile, the Texans are just kind of middle of the pack on offense and defense. However, Houston has Deshaun Watson, whereas the Bills only have Josh Allen. In the end, I’m not sure Buffalo’s defense will be able to overcome their offensive deficiencies. Texans 17 Bills 14
Evan Hoovler, Author of Riveting Wild Card Predictions Articles
Two of the most exciting, young mobile quarterbacks square off. Only one of those QBs has a great defense and an electric running game, though, and it’s not the team starting two running backs that played for Cleveland. The Bills starters should play well enough to compensate for any first-time-playoff-nerves that Josh Allen may have. Final score: Houston [some points] – Buffalo [a few more points]
Mike Maxwell, Football Absurdity Weekly Columnist
So, the return of JJ Watt versus the ultimate 2019 wild card in the Buffalo Bills. This should be a really fun close one to watch with Watson escaping Houston infamy with a fourth-quarter drive to ice the game. Texans 27 Bills 17
Mike Valverde, FA Weekly Columnist & Podcast Host
With the home-field advantage and Vegas favoring Houston by three points, it will be difficult for Buffalo to roam. However, the Texans’ defense is soft and should allow Josh Allen to find open receivers. The possible good news is J.J. Watt is now designated to return and officially active. Deshaun Watson will need to be on his best behavior as the Bills defense is one of the best. The outcome should come down to which quarterback has the best day, and I can’t trust the guy who completes just 57 percent of his passes in Josh Allen. Houston takes off and wins in a boring contest, 24-21
Karl Leslie, FA Writer
Get your tables ready, because this will be a fun one: Two very different teams battling it out for the chance to lose to the Ravens! Offense vs. defense, the firepower of the Texans takes on the thick hide of the Buffalo (a tale as old as America). My hope is the Bills come out on top, they have had some tough beats the last few weeks and it would be nice to see them finish with a win. But my money would go to the Texans, they had a chance to rest some key starters and they also get the bonus of a J.J. Watt late-season cameo.
Bryan Sclar, FA Weekly Columnist
I really want to feel good about the Bills. Lord knows the loyal inhabitants of that wintry land of nothing could use a playoff win, and I think they can steal one in Houston. Both teams are well-rested, and the Bills defense is better than the Texans offense. Bills 23, Texans 19
La Femme Football, FA Writer
I spent a few years in Houston’s unique climate, learning strange ways to deal with the humidity. However, I’m not sure how much Josh Allen would benefit from my tip of “put ultra-absorbent paper towels under your bra.” Still, I can tell them that Houston allowed the seventh-most yards to mobile quarterbacks and faces a Bills run offense that’s peaking. Buffalo has allowed the 6th-most yards to running backs, but Houston has rushed for less than 70 yards two of their last four games. Houston’s offense is too one-dimensional to fool a savvy Buffalo defensive 11. Buffalo stays in control for the entire game and wins.
Michael Nitzani, FA Writer
This game is a case of a blue state vs a red state. A cold-weather team vs a warm-weather team. Here’s why Houston will win: Never underestimate a rabid fan base smarting from epically devastating playoff losses both in last year’s playoffs, and those Oiler losses to the Bills in the early 1990s. A combination of Houston fans’ ferocity and new-to-the-playoffs Josh Allen will make the difference for Houston. Prediction: 27-14 Houston.
Brandon Andreason, FA Weekly Columnist
The key to this game is going to be Texans wide receiver Will Fuller. The Houston offense has stagnated without him in the lineup like a Texas Rose without water and/or some magic Stephen King horse-puckey. Plus, the Bills defense has been good enough to slow down better teams than the Texans. Deshaun Watson is going to be running for his life all game, and a late turnover is going to save this game for the Bills. I’ll take the Bills over the Texans.
Will Button, FA Writer
Watson and Hopkins go together better than Steve Urkel and his cousin Myrtle (both played by acclaimed actor Jaleel White) but the Texans haven’t had many impressive victories beyond defeating the Patriots in week 13. Their previous two victories were both by a 3 point margin. The Bills aren’t much more impressive, but clearly have the advantage with their top-five pass defense. Family Matters? More like defense matters. I’ve got the Bills winning this one 26-20.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
JK – I’m of two minds with this one. On one side, my heart and eyes tell me what I want to happen. They remind me of what the Titans spent two months doing. On the other side, my brain tells me that Tom Brady’s Reign of Terror isn’t over. Like Robespierre, he’ll go out swinging and cut off a head or two along the way. This one could go either way, as A.J. Brown, Derrick Henry, and Ryan Tannehill will put up a big fight (tell me back in August that I’d be saying that). Patriots 23, Titans 21
WI – This is a tale of two second halves. On the one hand, after starting out terribly, the Titans won 7 of their last 10 games to squeak into the playoffs and are one of the hottest teams in football. On the other hand, after starting out 8-0, the Patriots finished their season playing .500 football, including dropping their final game to a tanking Miami Dolphins team to cost them the bye. Having said all that, I’ll stop betting on the Patriots when they stop winning championships. Patriots 20, Titans 17
EH – I decided to leave emotions at home and look at this matchup scientifically. Now, methodically-speaking, I really want the Patriots to lose. I was at a family event when I found out they had lost the bye, and I cheered so loudly I was shushed by several other mourners. However, I’ve been on a streak of luck lately: I won my fantasy league, my book got published, and my 40-year-old-liver is still able to take a half dozen 12 oz punches every day. So I suspect the universe will roll against me and the Patriots will crush the Titans and my spirit. Scientifically speaking, of course.
MM – The more a commentator talks up a trend the more likely it will end up in the game eventually, if not the next few minutes. This matchup has a lot of potential for a tense game. Titans 24 Patriots 20
MV – The last thing any team wants to do is wake a sleeping giant, err Patriot. The Titans have turned their offense around and have had a solid defense for several seasons now. Unfortunately, the Patriots are battle-tested and very difficult to defeat in Foxborough. Titans will need to rely on Derrick Henry to control the clock and have Ryan Tannehill find the open receivers. It just happens that the Patriots defense is one of the best and Bill Belichick is a mastermind. The Titans get their God-card removed and the rebels take this one, 27-20
KL – Last time the Patriots lost a Wild Card game was in 2009 to the Baltimore Ravens and I think now, a decade later, they will lose again. The combo of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry behind one of the better offensive lines in the league will prove to be too much. The never-evil empire is not falling, it’s just a down year for a team with a history of Super Bowl runs.
BS – Why didn’t the Patriots cheat more and get a bye? Even though Tannehill has been playing at another level like everyone who leaves Miami for greener pastures (I see you, Kenyan Drake), I just don’t see the Titans coming out of Foxborough on top. The Patriots playoff journey may end sooner rather than later, just not this soon. Patriots 27, Titans 15
LFF – Besides their loss to the Dolphins last week, the Patriots only lost to Houston, Baltimore, and Kansas City: Three strong playoff teams. Their missing a bye should not be construed as reflective of a poor team; Brady and Belichick have made careers of playing around their weaknesses. While Tannehill’s start is hotter than California’s brush in summer, this is a true test against playoff wizards. I expect New England to play far smarter than the Titans, and come out on top.
MN – Brady. Belichick. Home Game. Newspaper editors can enjoy a little extra family time this holiday by cutting and pasting snippets from Brady’s previous 13 first-or-second-round playoff victories. The byline will read like this: The Patriots were business as usual and pulled away in the second half of a hard-fought game in Frigid Foxborough. Patriots win, 20-10.
BA – These are two teams passing each other in the night sky, like Belka and Strelka, look it up. The Texans are shooting in the right direction while the Patriots are fading quickly. Do the Patriots have an answer for Derrick Henry? Everything has seemed to click for the Titans with Henry on the field. Meanwhile, the Patriots have come undone on offense. Tom Brady looks like he is actively blaming the rest of the offense for the fact that the ages of time are breaking him down. Some might consider this the upset of the week, but I don’t consider it an upset at all. Titans are going to win.
WB – Brady can’t be happy about dropping a loss to Miami in week 17 at home. That’s one of those sentences you don’t get to type very often. Some might say there’s a Full House of running backs in New England with Rex Burkhead, James White, and Sony Michel scampering around. Brady is going to be bent on revenge, like when Uncle Jesse found out Uncle Joey was using his hair products and cut off his pinky finger (unaired episode). The Titans have had some luck with Tannehill, but simply put, Tennessee needs to outplay the Pats on both sides of the ball, and they just won’t. I’ve got the Patriots winning this one 31-16
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
JK – The Superdome is one of the hardest places to play in the NFL, and the Saints have revenge on their minds. Don’t overthink this one in what should be an easy victory for the Saints. Drew Brees over Kirk Cousins with two relatively evenly-matched teams is a no-brainer. Saints 38, Vikings 28.
WI – In the game of the week, you have two of the most balanced teams in football facing off. The Saints and Vikings both have top ten offenses in yards and points. The Saints are a top-five scoring offense, whereas the Vikings are a top-five scoring defense. These teams both have strong head coaches and deep rosters. To keep it simple, I’m just sticking with the Saints because a) they are at home and b) if another Minneapolis Miracle happens, we might have Sean Payton’s blood on our hands. Saints 28 Vikings 24
EH – First, I was instructed to write 2-3 sentences about Minnesota vs. New Orleans Wild Card game. Second, I have currently used two of those sentences. Finally, Minnesota sucks and chokes and New Orleans is good and will win.
MM – On paper this seems like an exciting way to open the NFC wild card but we all know how Kirk Cousins handles pressure, expectations, and the playoffs. Saints are a team out to avenge too many ghosts this postseason. Saints 31, Vikings 21
MV – After a disastrous season in 2018, the Vikings made a turnaround and got into the playoffs in 2019. However, they get treated NOLA style and will be eight-point underdogs, which is the largest spread of the weekend. Dalvin Cook should be ready to go, but his recipes to defeat New Orleans may not be. The Saints won’t need to invoke their holy religion to get through this game, as that once stout Viking defense is elderly and not what they used to be. Look for Drew Brees to light up the secondary and use Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to advance into the next round. Holy Men in victory 34-20
KL – Well it’s not a prime-time game, so the Vikings have that going for them. But the Saints still feel like a very complete team and the spread shows it. Both Vegas and I have a feeling this won’t be too fun to watch. It’s a known fact that Kirk Cousins doesn’t curse, so keep an eye on his ‘frick’ count- it could be a fun drinking game.
BS – The Saints have re-applied for the position of the best team in the NFL, and they’re getting called back for an interview. Sorry, Vikes. You just don’t have the firepower to keep up in this one. Saints 33, Vikings 20.
LFF – It’s known that Minnesota can’t play in front of national media. They lost important MNF matchups to Seattle and Green Bay. Green Bay wasn’t even close, and the vaunted Vikings offense gave up 27 second-half points to the Seahawks. I just can’t see them going to the Superdome and beating a veteran Saints squad. This is one of the easier wild card games to call: Saints win in a laugher.
MN – New Orleans outflanks Minnesota in skill positions. Brees is a fine wine who has gotten better with time. He finished 2019 with 27 touchdowns vs 4 interceptions. The game will be won in the trenches where New Orleans’ quality offensive line will contain Minnesota’s tepid pass rush, opening the holes for the New Orleans offense to slice and dice the Vikings’ defense Omakase style. Saints crush it, 42-17
BA – Two things: the Saints offense is operating at a nearly unstoppable level currently. Also, Kirk Cousins is one of the worst quarterbacks ever when he is on national television. It’s almost uncanny how bad he is when the spotlight shines brightest. This one won’t be close. Saints all the way.
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
JK – Russell Wilson, like life, will find a way. Even if Pete Carroll does his best to not let him find a way, Russell Wilson will figure out how to win in the playoffs. The Eagles currently have a receiving corps made up of a Roomba with a bucket on it, the fan sitting in section 209, row H, seat 6, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (gross!). Also, Miles Sanders is banged up now. Seahawks 30, Eagles 17
WI – Let’s be real here. The Eagles are only a playoff team because they are the least bad team in the NFC East. The only reason the Seahawks aren’t a division winner is that the 49ers are a powerhouse. The Eagles have no receivers to speak of and very little hope to win this game. Seahawks 28 Eagles 17
EH – To research for this wild card game, I found a Youtube of an eagle fighting a seagull. In my opinion, the Eagle was never able to hit the seagull, and that’s what I think will happen in Sunday’s game. The Eagles will get an early lead but will be too streaky to put the consistent Seahawks away. From this, Russell Wilson engineers a late winning drive.
MM – Please don’t spout off about the Seattle record versus the Philly record. The Eagles are a team of grit, determination, and duct tape. Look forward to Pete Carroll botching another clock management opportunity as Marshawn laughs into the sunset. Eagles 20, Seahawks 16.
MV – The Eagles wings are clipped and have flown into several windows over the course of the season as they have a litany of injuries. However, Seahawks fly too, and they are also hurting. Seattle had to go and get Marshawn “Skittles” Lynch off the street to fill out the running back room. However, Travis Homer could be the “guy,” as he played well against San Francisco in Week 17. Philadelphia has had to rely on wide receivers such as Deontay Burnett, Greg Ward, and Robert Davis.
However, Seattle is one of the worst teams against the tight end, and you won’t need Google to search for the names of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. For Seattle to win, they will need to rely on the magic of Russell Wilson and their emerging superstars in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Philadelphia has won three-straight games, are playing in Philadelphia, and even if Miles Sanders can’t go, Boston Scott looked good enough to continue their winning ways. The Eagles swoop away with this one 27-24.
KL – Two bird teams will battle it out to see who is the second-best bird team in the league this year. One team is lacking in its ground game and the other its air. Based on what we saw last week I feel safe resting my faith in Seattle for the round. The Bubble Gum Man has a few more tricks up his sleeve and the Homer/Lynch combo created enough of a ground game vs one of the best defenses in the league for me to expect the ‘Hawks to execute their usual game plan.
BS – If you can only watch one game this weekend, this is it. After that heartbreaker in San Fran last week, the Seahawks are going to be coming in HOT. Meanwhile, the Eagles have lost half their opening day roster to injury, and have resorted to recruiting players through Craigslist’s “men seeking men” section. Seahawks 24, Eagles 23
LFF – Last time the Eagles made the playoffs, they were the number one seed and beat New England in the Super Bowl. This time, they are one win above .500 and over half their wins came against the NFC East. That’s right, the divisional equivalent of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Meanwhile, they face a Seattle squad mixed with playoff veterans and high-draft-capital upstarts. If this is a boat race, Seattle has more gas with way better wide receivers. If this is a defensive slog, Philadelphia has the skills to go toe-to-toe with Seattle. I have trouble picturing a narrative where they both hold Seattle’s skilled offense and use their own totally-injured offense to move the ball into scoring position three times. Seattle has this one in the bag.
MN – It’s not where you start, but where you end up, and the Philadelphia team went on a gritty streak to end the season. Their machine is running on all cylinders. Meanwhile, a young Seattle squad is dealing with the pressures of expectations from their previous victory on the road before the Eagles got hot, hosting a playoff game, and being favored. Sometimes having too many advantages can be a detriment (it’s a thing, look it up). And while you look it up, the Eagles will lock it up, 28-24.