Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019-20 NFL playoff predictions (Part 1 - Wild Card)

Happy New Year! As we begin 2020 and a new decade, it’s time to make the first of many NFL playoff predictions. This post will focus on the Wild Card games; future posts will predict the outcomes of the Divisional and Championship games, and eventually the Super Bowl.

Let’s go.


#6 Tennessee Titans vs. #3 New England Patriots
What’s the deal with the Patriots this year? After opening the season by winning eight in a row, the Patriots are 4-4 since the beginning of November. They have lost to all the other AFC Division winners, but most embarrassingly to the Miami Dolphins in the season finale – the loss meant that the Patriots would not enjoy a first-round bye for the first time in a decade. The Patriots have struggled ever since losing to the Ravens in Week 9.

Still, the Patriots remain a formidable foe. The Titans have a strange obsession with going 9-7, doing so for the fourth straight year. The Titans enjoyed a four-game winning streak from Week 10 through Week 14, and the Titans have posted twenty-plus, thirty-plus, and twice forty-plus points on the board across all their victories. The Titans' defeats often but did not always occur when they scored less than twenty points.

Bottom line: the Titans need a lot of points to stave off any magic Tom Brady might wield. Will it be enough to upset the Super Bowl champs?


Expect Tom Brady to fire on all cylinders and dash the Titans’ hopes, just as he did two years ago.

Prediction: Patriots win, 35-18.

Result: Titans win, 20-13.

Comments after the game:


In recent years, the playoffs belonged to the Patriots. They always found a way to win. The last-second magic of Tom Brady always delivered victory, most notably against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. In what turned out to be a close battle, the Titans and Patriots fought valiantly in Foxborough, each determined to strike the other down. Finally the time came, and Tom Brady prepared to work his trademark magic.

By throwing an interception. A pick six.

And so ends a dynasty, a whimper of an ending to a Patriots season that began with eight straight wins. After that fateful loss against the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season, the Patriots have lost control. Worse, the Patriots ran into a tank tonight, one named Derrick Henry. The Patriots had no answer, thus ending their season a month earlier than hoped.

The Titans dethrone the Super Bowl champions but now face the most feared opponent of them all: the Baltimore Ravens.


#5 Buffalo Bills vs. #4 Houston Texans
Twenty years ago – 1999 – was the last time the Buffalo Bills had ten or more wins during the regular season. Twenty years later, the Bills have reached the ten-win mark again and have returned to the playoffs for the second time in three years. The Bills enjoyed a relatively stable season but ended it on a sour note after dropping three of their last four games. More concerning is that of those ten wins, only one came from a team that made the playoffs – the Tennessee Titans.

The Texans, meanwhile, noticed a pattern emerge this season: lose a game, win two, lose a game, win two, rinse and repeat. The Texans have posted impressive wins this season, winning over the Patriots and the Chiefs. The regular season, however, ended on a foul note for the Texans with a brutal home loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Texans and Bills both have recent playoff experience, but it hasn’t ended well for either team. The Bills lost an insomnia-curing game against the Jaguars two years ago, while the Texans’ playoff journeys in recent years have always ended in disaster.

The Texans should be able to live to fight another day.

Prediction: Texans win, 24-21.

Result: Texans win, 22-19 (OT).

Comments after the game:

Let's see how the Buffalo Bills are doing. Last I heard they were up 16-0 and -



The Bills were in complete control most of the game, and then the second half happened. The Bills spontaneously combusted, surrendering 19 points in the second half. A last-second Bills field goal forced overtime, a prolonged overtime that seemed to be going nowhere until DeShaun Watson survived a huge sack and made a mind-blowing play that ultimately set up the game-winning field goal. 

The Texans stave off another playoff implosion and advance to face the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Bills' playoff victory drought continues.


#6 Minnesota Vikings vs. #3 New Orleans Saints
The Vikings have a few small problems: they dropped three of their last five to end the regular season, they’re stuck at the sixth seed, and their Wild Card opponent is a New Orleans Saints squad still seeing red after last season’s debacle in the NFC Championship game. Not to mention the Saints still remember that last second debacle in the NFC Divisional game against the Vikings two years ago.

Good luck with that, Minnesota.

Prediction: Saints win, 31-14.

Result: Vikings win, 26-20 (OT).

Comments after the game:

Three years in a row now the Saints have crumbled in playoff games, and two of those losses were inflicted by the Vikings. No excuses this year - the Saints fell behind, clawed back, then failed to get a defensive stop in overtime. The Vikings advance to face an even greater test: the San Francisco 49ers.

First Brady, now Brees. The end of dynasties?


#5 Seattle Seahawks vs. #4 Philadelphia Eagles
A Seahawks squad that can’t seem to play a full sixty minutes versus an Eagles squad with so many injuries they’ll name a hospital after this team.

The Seahawks’ greatest issue is their defense, o-line, and consistency; Russell Wilson and the offense are clearly capable, but they can’t do everything themselves. The Seahawks need consistent efforts for the full sixty minutes, otherwise it’s a one-and-done affair.

The Eagles enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, but the Eagles were shaky and inconsistent before that string of wins. If the Eagles can salvage what remains of their injury-plagued squad, victory is still attainable. This will be a close battle, one from which Seattle will emerge victorious – barely.

Prediction: Seahawks win, 27-24.

Result: Seahawks win, 17-9.

Comments after the game:

Solid victory by the Seahawks - their first playoff victory in three years! The Seahawks held the Eagles to a trio of field goals while Russell Wilson and the offense worked their magic. The Eagles put up a valiant effort, but there's only so much a team can endure before they no longer need a hospital but a morgue.

The Seahawks advance to face the Green Bay Packers!

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