Vince’s View: NFL Predictions – Wildcard Round Weekend

Vikings S Harrison Smith / Credit: Minnesota Vikings

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Here’s the schedule for Wildcard Weekend in the NFL Playoffs.

With the games and times listed you’ll find a lot of great and informative notes directly from the NFL Communications office.

My predicted winners are in CAPS AND bold..

2018 Season Prediction Record: 167-100 (63%)
2019 Week 16 Prediction Record: 11-5 (69%)
2019 Season Prediction Record: 167-90 (65%)


NFL POSTSEASON KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND

The NFL’s 100th season has reached the playoffs, and the playoff field is as strong as it’s ever been.

Six playoff teams – the BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4) and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) from the AFC, and the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3), GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3) from the NFC – won at least 12 regular-season games, tied for the most such teams in a single postseason in NFL history.

The seasons with the most playoff teams that won 12-or-more regular-season games:

SEASON TEAMS
2019 6
2011 6
2003 6
Many 5

The combined winning percentage (.708, 136-56) of this season’s field is the highest in 14 years, since it was .719 (138-54) in 2005.

The NFL postseason begins Saturday with four games on Wild Card Weekend.

Saturday, January 4
AFC Buffalo at HOUSTON 4:35 PM ET ESPN/ABC  
AFC TENNESSEE at New England 8:15 PM ET CBS  
         
Sunday, January 5
NFC Minnesota at NEW ORLEANS 1:05 PM ET FOX  
NFC SEATTLE at Philadelphia 4:40 PM ET NBC  

The final 12 teams in contention for the Vince Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LIV in Miami:

American Football Conference National Football Conference
1. Baltimore (14-2), AFC North champion 1. San Francisco (13-3), NFC West champion
2. Kansas City (12-4), AFC West champion 2. Green Bay (13-3), NFC North champion
3. New England (12-4), AFC East champion 3. New Orleans (13-3), NFC South champion
4. Houston (10-6), AFC South champion 4. Philadelphia (9-7), NFC East champion
5. Buffalo (10-6) 5. Seattle (11-5)
6. Tennessee (9-7) 6. Minnesota (10-6)

The playoffs continue with the Divisional round on January 11-12, the Conference Championship Games on January 19, and Super Bowl LIV on February 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami (FOX, 6:30 PM ET).

Five teams – the BUFFALO BILLS and TENNESSEE TITANS from the AFC, and GREEN BAY PACKERSMINNESOTA VIKINGS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS from the NFC – made the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2018. Since 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

A look at the four games on Wild Card Weekend:

BUFFALO BILLS (10-6) at HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6) (Saturday, ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET)       

  • Buffalo clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three seasons.
  • Houston captured the AFC South division title for a second consecutive season, and the fourth time in the past five years. For the fourth time in franchise history (2002-19), Houston won at least 10 games.
  • Houston head coach BILL O’BRIEN joined ANDY REIDMIKE TOMLIN and JOHN HARBAUGH as the only active head coaches with five winning seasons over their first six years. O’Brien has guided the Texans to four AFC South titles in those six years.
  • Buffalo head coach SEAN MCDERMOTT, in his third season as a head coach, has led the Bills to the playoffs for a second time.
  • Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN (nine) and Texans quarterback DESHAUN WATSON (seven) ranked first and tied for second, respectively, in rushing touchdowns among QBs in 2019. Allen, in his second NFL season, threw for 3,089 yards and 20 touchdowns. Watson joined Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE YOUNG as the only quarterbacks ever with 25-or-more touchdown passes and five-plus rushing touchdowns in multiple seasons.
  • Watson
  • Houston wide receiver DEANDRE HOPKINS tied for the AFC lead this season with 104 receptions.
  • Buffalo CB TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions.

TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) (Saturday, CBS, 8:15 PM ET)      

  • Tennessee clinched a playoff berth for the second time in the past three years. The Titans won at least nine games for a fourth consecutive season, the franchise’s longest streak since the Oilers strung together seven winning seasons from 1987-93.
  • New England (37) needs a win to extend its NFL record to 38 postseason victories. Pittsburgh ranks second all-time with 36. The Patriots have been to the Super Bowl in four of the past five years, including a victory in Super Bowl LIII last season.
  • Patriots quarterback TOM BRADY is the NFL’s all-time postseason leader in games (40), passing attempts (1,589), completions (1,005), passing yards (11,179) and touchdown passes (73).
  • New England wide receiver JULIAN EDELMAN (115) has more postseason receptions than all but Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (151). Edelman (1,412) also ranks second behind Rice (2,245) in career postseason receiving yards. And with 100 receiving yards Saturday, Edelman would have seven 100-yard games in his postseason career and claim sole possession of No. 2 on the NFL’s all-time list, breaking a tie with Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL IRVIN (six). Rice (eight) owns the league record.
  • Tennessee quarterback RYAN TANNEHILL led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating, the fourth-highest single-season mark among qualified passers in NFL history.
  • DERRICK HENRY, who led the NFL with a career-high 1,540 rushing yards, has averaged 149.3 rushing yards over his last six games with 10 rushing touchdowns in that span.
  • Titans rookie wide receiver A.J. BROWN has four touchdown catches of at least 50 yards in 2019 and joined ISAAC CURTIS (five in 1973), WILLIE GAULT (four in 1983) and Pro Football Hall of Famer RANDY MOSS (five in 1998) as the only rookies with at least four touchdown receptions of 50-or-more yards since 1970.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3) (Sunday, FOX, 1:05 PM ET)      

  • MIKE ZIMMER has won eight-or-more games in five of his six seasons as Vikings head coach, including two playoff berths and at least 10 wins twice over the past three years.
  • SEAN PAYTON has guided the Saints to a division title for a third consecutive season, the longest streak in franchise history.
  • Saints wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS (149) broke the single-season receptions record held by Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (143).
  • New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) and touchdown passes (547). In 15 career postseason games, Brees owns a 100.0 passer rating, having completed 408 of 615 passes (66.3 percent), with 33 touchdown passes.
  • Vikings quarterback KIRK COUSINS is the only quarterback with at least 25 touchdown passes in each of the past five seasons.
  • Minnesota wide receiver STEFON DIGGS, who caught a 61-yard touchdown to beat the Saints in the 2017 NFC Divisional playoffs, posted a career-best 1,130 receiving yards in 2019.
  • The Saints’ CAMERON JORDAN (15.5) and the Vikings’ DANIELLE HUNTER (14.5) ranked third and tied for fourth, respectively, in sacks this season.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7) (Sunday, NBC, 4:40 PM ET)       ​

  • Seattle has won 10-or-more games in seven of the past eight seasons. PETE CARROLL has led the Seahawks to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons as head coach.
  • Philadelphia enters the playoffs having closed the regular season with four consecutive wins, tied for the NFC’s second-longest active streak behind Green Bay (five). The Eagles have won the NFC East for the second time in the past three seasons. In 2017, Philadelphia used a division title as a foundation to win Super Bowl LII.
  • Seahawks quarterback RUSSELL WILSON is the first quarterback in NFL history with a winning record in each of his first eight seasons. Wilson (31, third) and Eagles quarterback CARSON WENTZ (27, tied-fifth) ranked in the NFL’s top five in touchdown passes this season.
  • Seattle running back MARSHAWN LYNCH has 1,064 scrimmage yards (96.7 per game) and nine rushing touchdowns in 11 career postseason games.
  • Seattle linebacker BOBBY WAGNER paced the NFL with 159 total tackles.
  • Eagles running back MILES SANDERS led NFL rookies with 1,327 scrimmage yards.
  • One of five Philadelphia players selected to the Pro Bowl, tight end ZACH ERTZ has 525 receptions since entering the NFL in 2013, the most by a tight end in his first seven seasons in NFL history.

2019 NFL PLAYOFFS GET UNDERWAY

The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday and Sunday, January 4-5, with Wild Card Weekend. On Saturday, the Buffalo Bills play at the Houston Texans (ESPN/ABC, 4:35 PM ET) and the Tennessee Titans visit the New England Patriots (CBS, 8:15 PM ET). Wild Card Weekend continues Sunday with the Minnesota Vikings at the New Orleans Saints (FOX, 1:05 PM ET) and the Seattle Seahawks traveling to face the Philadelphia Eagles (NBC, 4:40 PM ET).

The following week (January 11-12), the Baltimore Ravens (Saturday, CBS, 8:15 PM ET) and Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, CBS, 3:05 PM ET) in the AFC and the Green Bay Packers (Sunday, FOX, 6:40 PM ET) and San Francisco 49ers (Saturday, NBC, 4:35 PM ET) in the NFC host the Divisional Playoffs. The Ravens and 49ers own home-field advantage for the Conference Championship Games (January 19) if they win their Divisional contests.

The 2020 Pro Bowl (ESPN, with simulcast on ABC, 3:00 PM ET) will be played on Sunday, January 26, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, and Super Bowl LIV will take place on Sunday, February 2 (FOX, 6:30 PM ET), at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

TURNAROUND TEAMS & CONSISTENT WINNERS HIGHLIGHT PLAYOFF FIELD

Six playoff teams – the BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2), GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4), NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3), NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4) and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3) – each won at least 12 regular-season games in 2019, tied with 2003 and 2011 for the most such teams in a single postseason in NFL history.

The combined winning percentage of the 2019 playoff field is .708 (136-56), the highest combined winning percentage among postseason teams since 2005 (.719, 138-54).

There are five new playoff teams in 2019: BUFFALOGREEN BAYMINNESOTASAN FRANCISCO and TENNESSEE.

Since 1990 – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons – at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:

SEASON PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 6 (Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 8 (Buffalo, Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)
2018 7 (Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle)
2019 5 (Buffalo, Green Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco, Tennessee)

Two teams won division titles – Green Bay (NFC North) and San Francisco (NFC West) – after missing the playoffs last season. At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.

The divisions with new champions in 2019:

NFC EAST NFC NORTH NFC WEST
2019 Philadelphia Green Bay San Francisco
2018 Dallas Chicago L.A. Rams

In the 18 seasons since realignment in 2002, 29 of the 32 NFL teams have won a division title at least once. New England has won 11 consecutive AFC East division titles, the longest streak of division championships in league annals.

How the 2019 playoff teams have fared in the 18 seasons since realignment in 2002 (2019 division winners in bold/italics):

TEAM DIVISION TITLES PLAYOFF BERTHS
New England 16 16
Green Bay 10 13
Philadelphia 8 11
Seattle 8 13
Baltimore 6 10
Houston 6 6
Kansas City 6 9
New Orleans 6 8
Minnesota 4 7
San Francisco 4 5
Tennessee 2 6
Buffalo 0 2

Six of this season’s 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl since 1999, capturing 12 of the past 20 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are the Patriots (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII), Ravens (XXXV, XLVII), Eagles (LII), Packers (XLV), Saints (XLIV) and Seahawks (XLVIII).

SUPER BOWL SEASON WINNER
XXXIV 1999 St. Louis Rams
XXXV 2000 Baltimore Ravens*
XXXVI 2001 New England Patriots*
XXXVII 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
XXXVIII 2003 New England Patriots*
XXXIX 2004 New England Patriots*
XL 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
XLI 2006 Indianapolis Colts
XLII 2007 New York Giants
XLIII 2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
XLIV 2009 New Orleans Saints*
XLV 2010 Green Bay Packers*
XLVI 2011 New York Giants
XLVII 2012 Baltimore Ravens*
XLVIII 2013 Seattle Seahawks*
XLIX 2014 New England Patriots*
50 2015 Denver Broncos
LI 2016 New England Patriots*
LII 2017 Philadelphia Eagles*
LIII 2018 New England Patriots*
*In 2019 postseason

The New England Patriots (.649), Baltimore Ravens (.625), Green Bay Packers (.607) and San Francisco 49ers (.600) have the four highest postseason winning percentages in NFL history.

The 12 playoff teams and their postseason records:

TEAM WINS LOSSES PCT.
New England Patriots 37 20 .649
Baltimore Ravens 15 9 .625
Green Bay Packers 34 22 .607
San Francisco 49ers 30 20 .600
Philadelphia Eagles 23 22 .511
Seattle Seahawks 16 16 .500
Buffalo Bills 14 16 .467
New Orleans Saints 9 11 .450
Tennessee Titans 15 20 .429
Minnesota Vikings 20 29 .408
Houston Texans 3 5 .375
Kansas City Chiefs 10 19 .345

YOUTH & CONSISTENCY HIGHLIGHT THE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACKS

The 2019 postseason is filled with young stars on the rise and veterans at the top of their game at the quarterback position.

Three quarterbacks – Buffalo’s JOSH ALLEN, Philadelphia’s CARSON WENTZ and Tennessee’s RYAN TANNEHILL – are expected to make their first career postseason starts on Wild Card Weekend while San Francisco’s JIMMY GAROPPOLO, who has a career 21-5 record as a starting quarterback, will make his postseason debut in the NFC Divisional round.

New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who has led the Patriots to 11 consecutive division titles and six Super Bowl championships, is the postseason’s all-time leader in games played (40), passing yards (11,179) and touchdown passes (73). Brady led New England to the Super Bowl LIII title last season and will face off against Tannehill in the AFC Wild Card round, who led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating this season, the fourth-highest single-season rating in NFL history.

New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES, a veteran of 19 NFL seasons, will make his 16th postseason start in the NFC Wild Card round after leading the league with a 74.3 completion percentage and ranking second with a career-high 116.3 passer rating in 2019. Brees led the Saints to the Super Bowl XLIV championship in 2009.

Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS will make his second career postseason start, and first with the Vikings, in the Wild Card round. Cousins ranked fourth in the league with a 107.4 passer rating in 2019 and is the only quarterback with at least 25 touchdown passes in each of the past five seasons.

Baltimore quarterback LAMAR JACKSON, who has led Baltimore to consecutive AFC North division titles, will make his second career postseason start in the AFC Divisional playoffs. Jackson led the league with 36 touchdown passes, ranked third with a 113.3 passer rating and set the NFL’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,206) in 2019.

Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES will make his third career postseason start in the AFC Divisional round. Since becoming the Chiefs’ starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2018 season, Mahomes leads the NFL with 76 touchdown passes and ranks third in both passing yards (9,128) and passer rating (110).

Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS, in his 15th season, will make his 17th career postseason start in the NFC Divisional round. He has 36 career postseason touchdown passes and can become the fifth quarterback in NFL history with at least 40 career postseason touchdown passes. Rodgers led the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title in 2010.

Houston quarterback DESHAUN WATSON will make his second career postseason start after leading the Texans to back-to-back AFC South division titles. Watson became the first quarterback to have at least 25 touchdown passes and five rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons in NFL history. Watson will face Allen, who became the second-fastest quarterback to reach 15 career rushing touchdowns (22 games) in league annals.

Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who has led Seattle to the playoffs in seven of his eight seasons, will be making his 14th career postseason start on Wild Card Weekend. Wilson led Seattle to a Super Bowl XLVIII championship in 2013 and a Super Bowl XLIX appearance in 2014. Wilson will square off against Wentz, who had a single-season franchise-record 4,039 passing yards in 2019.

A by-the-numbers look at the 12 quarterbacks in the 2019 postseason:

2 Rookie or 2nd-year Allen, BUF; Jackson, BAL
7 1st-round draft picks Allen, BUF; Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Rodgers, GB; Tannehill, TEN; Watson, HOU; Wentz, PHI
3 Drafted No. 75 overall or later, or undrafted Brady, NE; Cousins, MIN; Wilson, SEA
4 Under the age of 25 Allen, BUF; Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Watson, HOU
6 Under the age of 31 Allen, BUF; Garoppolo, SF; Jackson, BAL; Mahomes, KC; Watson, HOU; Wentz, PHI
3 Over the age of 34 Brady, NE; Brees, NO; Rodgers, GB

 

BEST NFL PLAYOFF PERFORMANCES

(Single postseason)​

 

PASSING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON COMP. ATT. YARDS TD INT
Eli Manning, New York Giants
2011
106
163
1,219
9
1
Kurt WarnerHOF, Arizona
2008
92
135
1,147
11
3
Joe Flacco, Baltimore
2012
73
126
1,140
11
0
Tom Brady, New England
2016
93
142
1,137
7
3
Tom Brady, New England
2017
89
139
1,132
8
0
RUSHING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON ATT. YARDS TD  
John RigginsHOF, Washington
1982
136
610
4
 
Terrell DavisHOF, Denver
1997
112
581
8
 
Terrell DavisHOF, Denver
1998
78
468
3
 
Marcus AllenHOF, Los Angeles Raiders
1983
58
466
4
 
Eddie George, Tennessee
1999
108
449
3
 
RECEIVING YARDS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON REC. YARDS TD  
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
30
546
7
 
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
2011
28
444
4
 
Jerry RiceHOF, San Francisco
1988
21
409
6
 
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
2003
18
404
3
 
Charlie Brown, Washington
1983
14
401
1
 
RECEPTIONS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON REC. YARDS TD  
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
30
546
7
 
Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants
2011
28
444
4
 
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
2013
28
306
3
 
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina
2005
27
335
3
 
Wes Welker, New England
2007
27
213
2
 
SCRIMMAGE TOUCHDOWNS
PLAYER, TEAM SEASON TOTAL TD RUSH TD REC. TD  
Terrell DavisHOF, Denver
1997
8
8
0
 
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
2008
7
0
7
 
Larry CsonkaHOF, Miami
1973
6
6
0
 
Franco HarrisHOF, Pittsburgh
1974
6
6
0
 
Sony Michel, New England
2018
6
6
0
 
John RigginsHOF, Washington
1983
6
6
0
 
Jerry RiceHOF, San Francisco
1988
6
0
6
 
Gerald Riggs, Washington
1991
6
6
0
 
Ricky Watters, San Francisco
1993
6
6
0
 
Emmitt SmithHOF, Dallas
1995
6
6
0

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