NFL Wild Card Round: Preview & Predictions

The 2023/24 NFL regular season is officially complete and the only 14 teams are left competing for Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. First up in the playoffs is Super Wild Card Weekend, which will kick off on Saturday. A total of 5 games will be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Cleveland Browns (5) at Houston Texans (4)

Kick-off- Saturday, Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

The Texans were able to steal the AFC South crown with a win over the Colts last Saturday and a loss by the Jaguars. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud has shown he can handle the pressure moments and has grown a lot throughout the season. He could become the youngest starting QB to win a playoff game (since 1950). 

The Browns have been all over the place in the quarterback position, starting five different QBs this season. They do however seem to have found what they were looking for with veteran Joe Flacco. The former Super Bowl winner has loads of experience in the playoffs and should be very reliable on Saturday.

Prediction: Flacco’s experience wins out and the Browns win a close game.

Houston Texans cornerback Desmond King II helicopters over the top of Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco
IMAGO / Icon Sportswire

Miami Dolphins (6) at Kansas City Chiefs (3)

Kick-off- Saturday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET

The reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs will take on the Dolphins in what should be a matchup full of storylines. Arguably the biggest one is the return of star wide receiver Tyreek Hill back to Arrowhead Stadium since the Chiefs traded him to the Miami Dolphins in 2022. These two teams played each other earlier this year in Germany where Hill had just 62 receiving yards in the Dolphins’ 21-14 loss. 

Miami led the AFC East for most of the season but let the division slip to Buffalo in the last week. Over the last two seasons, the Dolphins are 4-9 in December/January which isn’t a good sign heading into the playoffs.

Mahomes and the Chiefs have not been much better lately. The Super Bowl MVP had career worsts this season in passing yards per game, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interceptions.

Prediction: This matchup will likely come down to which team comes out firing. We expect the Chiefs to edge out the Dolphins in a high scoring game.

Pittsburgh Steelers (7) at Buffalo Bills (2)

Kick-off- Sunday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. ET 

Pittsburgh is in the playoffs for the first time since 2021.  With Mason Rudolph as the starting QB there isn’t much postseason experience in the position. It should be noted though that he is 3-0 as a starter this season and is completing 74.3% of his passes. The big blow to the Steelers is the loss of pass rusher T.J. Watt, who finished the year with 19 sacks this season. He suffered an MCL sprain that will have him sidelined for the game.

The Bills came out of nowhere to take the AFC East. They started a disappointing 6-6 in the season but won their last five games and are in red hot form. This season, the Bills are 7-1 at home and have outscored their opponents by an average of 14.8 points.  

Prediction: Expect Josh Allen to have a big game as the Bills handle the Steelers rather easily.

Green Bay Packers (7) at Dallas Cowboys (2)

Kick-off- Sunday, Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. ET

This matchup has Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy going up against his former team in Green Bay. McCarthy coached the Packers from 2006 to 2018 and was able to win the Super Bowl XLV title during the 2010 season with Aaron Rodgers at QB. 

Dallas is 8-0 at home and has looked unbeatable on their own turf, averaging a margin of victory of 21.5 at home. Jordan Love is expected to have a hard time against the high-flying Dallas defense that leads the league in turnovers. 

Prediction: Cowboys should win this one by double digits.

Rams (6) at Lions (3)

Kick-off- Sunday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET

Maybe the most anticipated matchup on Wildcard weekend, the Lions/Rams game should be very entertaining. It’s the Lions first home playoff game ever at Ford Field and they are looking to win their first playoff game since 1992. 

Stafford, a former Lion, was traded to L.A. and went on to win Super Bowl LVI the following season. Both teams have big offensive weapons with Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the mix. The winner might just come down to which team can turnover the ball less.

Prediction: The Lions win their first playoff game since 1992.