Super Wild Card Weekend

By Steve Tsilimos | Posted 1 year ago

Another January means another start to the NFL playoffs with Super Wild Card Weekend starting things off on Saturday. This weekend 14 teams enter the tournament with one goal in mind – hoisting the Lombardi trophy at SoFi Stadium in February. 

The difference between the top teams in the conference and the seventh team is slim, which means anyone can win this week. Below we will take a closer look at the three games set for Sunday, January 16 and the one matchup on Monday and give three reasons why each team can win their first playoff game. 

No. 7 Eagles (9-8) at No. 2 Buccaneers (13-4) – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, (FOX)

Three reasons the Eagles can beat the Bucs

  1. The Eagles’ No. 1 ranked rushing attack finds success and keeps the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands. The Eagles started the season with a record of 2-5 and needed to figure things out quickly if they were going to make the playoffs. They switched to a ground-and-pound attack which led to them winning seven out of their last 10.

  2. The offensive line is healthy and can control the front seven of the Buccaneers. The Eagles had to do a lot of shuffling around on the O-line this season, but they have their big guys ready to go for Sunday. The Eagles are going to need their offensive line to create some big holes for their backs and to provide a clean pocket for Jalen Hurts if they want to pull off the upset.

  3. Hurts and the Eagles have nothing to lose. Even if they do not make it all the way to the Super Bowl, a win over Brady and the defending champs would make Hurts and the Eagles’ season much sweeter. 

Three reasons the Bucs will beat the Eagles

  1. Todd Bowles has made it clear that his defense is going to stop the run, which has translated to the Buccaneers having one of the top-ranked rush defenses for the past two seasons. The Bucs were one of three teams that gave up less than 93 yards on the ground per game this year. The Bucs will take away what the Eagles want to do offensively. 

  2. Brady has appeared in 10 of the last 20 Super Bowls and has won 32 playoff games – one of Brady’s many postseason records. The unquestioned leader of the Bucs has invaluable postseason experience that will translate into another win.

  3. The Eagles rank last in opponents' completion rate (69.4%). Brady finished with the second-highest completion rate this season (66.7%). The strength of the Bucs offense is the weakness of the Eagles defense – Brady will successfully be able to spread the ball around to whoever is running routes for the depleted Bucs offense. 

No. 6 49ers (10-7) at No. 3 Cowboys (12-5) – Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, (CBS/Nickelodeon)

Three reasons the 49ers will beat the Cowboys

  1. San Francisco was playing in the Super Bowl two years ago and many of the players on that team are still currently on the roster. The 49ers have a roster that would worry any opponent in a must-win game. Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa are all players that have proven to shine in these high-pressure situations.

  2. RB Elijah Mitchell and the 49ers’ rushing attack will create chunk-gains and consistent success against the Cowboys defense. Since Week 9 the Cowboys have given up 130 rushing yards per game which is one of the worst in the NFL over that span. The Cowboys are 2-4 this year when they surrender more than 125 yards on the ground – the 49ers are averaging 127 yards per contest.

  3. The Cowboys’ record is better than they actually are. Dallas was 6-5 against teams that are not in their division this season and if you take away their two wins over the Eagles, they only beat one playoff team this season – the Patriots

Three reasons the Cowboys can beat the 49ers

  1. Defensive playmaking translates to postseason wins. The Cowboys led the league with 35 takeaways, including an NFL-high 27 interceptions. The Cowboys are the only team to average two takeaways a game this season and the 49ers are 2-6 when they turn the ball over two times or more. 

  2. The Cowboys’ receivers are much better than the 49er’s secondary. As long as Dak Prescott has time in the pocket he should be able to exploit this matchup. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb will create separation all game and score multiple touchdowns. 

  3. The 2021 Cowboys are the 3rd team since 1960 to lead the NFL in total offense, scoring offense and takeaways in the same season. The 49ers defense will need takeaways of their own if they want to keep up with the Cowboys. 

No. 7 Steelers (9-7-1) at No. 2 Chiefs (12-5) – Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET, (NBC)

Three reasons the Steelers can beat the Chiefs

  1. The Steelers will pressure Patrick Mahomes all game, which will lead to turnovers. The Steelers racked up 55 sacks, which led the NFL. A big reason was T.J. Watt’s 22.5 sacks, which tied the NFL single-season record. Watt will be lined-up against the Chief’s weakest spot on their offense – their right tackle Andrew Wylie.

  2. Tyreek Hill is not 100% and the Steelers can key on stopping other players. The Steelers only chance to beat the defending AFC champs is to keep it a low scoring affair by limiting big plays. They have a good chance to do this if Hill is hampered by his heel injury.

  3. "We don't have a chance, so let's just go in and play and have fun," Ben Roethlisberger said in his Wednesday media availability. The Steelers are playing on borrowed time in what could be their long-time-QBs last game. A team playing with nothing to lose and added motivation is a dangerous team this time of the year. 

Three reasons the Chiefs will beat the Steelers

  1. The Chiefs already smoked the Steelers the day after Christmas 36-10, proving they are a superior team – that was without star TE Travis Kelce. The score does not show just how much the Chiefs dominated the Steelers just a few weeks ago. 

  2. The Steelers’ offensive line struggles to protect Big Ben or create a push to control the clock with their run game. The Steelers have part of the equation to beat the Chiefs, a defensive line that can pressure Mahomes, but they do not have the offense to control the ball or score enough points to put pressure on the Chiefs to score. 

  3. The Chiefs know how to win this time of the year. The Chiefs have only lost two postseason games since Mahomes has become their QB – one of those games was the Super Bowl last year. Coach Andy Reid will have his team ready to beat another opponent that they are simply better than. 

No. 5 Cardinals (11-6) at No. 4 Rams (12-5) – Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, (ABC/ESPN)

Three reasons the Cardinals can beat the Rams

  1. Kyler Murray will be electric in his first postseason appearance. Murray is undoubtedly one of the NFL’s most exciting players to watch and has the ability to take over games. Murray’s magic carries the Cardinals into the divisional round.

  2. Matthew Stafford is inconsistent and the Cardinals create turnovers. Stafford has been mostly great this year, but then he has horrible halves with errant turnovers. Stafford will feel the pressure of never having won a postseason game in his career (0-3) and if he loses one more, he'll tie Andy Dalton and Y.A. Tittle for the most career playoff starts without a win.

  3. The Cardinals finished 8-1 on the road, becoming one of only nine teams ever to win eight road games in a regular season. The Cardinals already won at SoFi 37-20 in Week 4. 

Three reasons the Rams will beat the Cardinals

  1. The Rams’ downfield passing attack is too much for the Cardinals to defend. Cooper Kupp won the receiving triple crown (most receptions, yards and TDs) this season and he will provide big numbers on Monday. In their past five games, the Cardinals have allowed opponents to complete 62.3% of passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air, for six touchdowns.

  2. The Rams defense creates big plays and gets production out of all their big names. Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald dominate all game while Von Miller and Leonard Floyd provide great edge play. 

  3. The Rams’ rushing attack is firing on all cylinders with Sony Mitchel finding his groove and Cam Akers getting healthy just in time for the playoffs. In their Week 18 loss to the Seahawks, the Cardinals had no answer for Rashaad Penny – he ran for 190 yards and averaged 8.3 yards per rush.

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