Here are Jack Green’s NFL predictions for four of the Wild Card playoff games on Saturday and Sunday.
Buffalo Bills (-6.5) vs Indianapolis Colts
The Bills are the hottest team in the NFL, having won six consecutive games, all by a margin of at least 10 points.
Buffalo’s offense has been fantastic all season thanks to the performances of star quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and they scored 56 against the Miami Dolphins last week even as Allen, Diggs and several other starters sat out the second half.
The Colts are a good team who won four of their last five to make the playoffs, but they’ve lost three times on the road this season – including against the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago – and have declined defensively over the second half of the season.
Indianapolis have conceded an average of 26.4 points per game over the last seven games – compared to 19.7 per game over their first nine – so it’s hard to see them containing this potent Buffalo attack.
Seattle Seahawks (-3) vs Los Angeles Rams
Seattle have not been particularly impressive over the final few weeks of the season, but they’ve managed to grind out four consecutive wins and should keep that run going against the Rams, who they beat 20-9 in week 16.
Los Angeles beat the Arizona Cardinals 18-7 last week in a game in which both teams were forced to play their backup quarterbacks due to injury, and it remains unclear whether Jared Goff will be able to return for the Rams this week after undergoing thumb surgery two weeks ago.
The Rams have lost three of their last five games with Goff under centre, though, so it’s hard to trust them to outscore Seattle even if he does play.
The Seahawks ranked eighth in the NFL in points per game this season despite a recent slump, and they’ve been surprisingly good defensively over the second half of the season, conceding an average of just 15 points per game over the last seven weeks.
Baltimore Ravens (-3) vs Tennessee Titans
The Ravens were slow to get going this season and were beaten by the Titans in week 11, but they’ve hit top form over the past few weeks and look primed to gain revenge on Sunday.
Baltimore have won five consecutive games, scoring an average of 37.2 points per game in the process while holding four of those opponents to 17 points or fewer.
The Ravens rank inside the top seven in the NFL in both scoring offense and defence this season, which suggests they are a better team than their 11-5 record would indicate, and it’s hard to see how Tennessee’s 24th-ranked defence will stop the Ravens’ attack in this form.
The Titans have lost twice in the last five weeks, and a narrow 41-38 victory over the 4-12 Houston Texans last Sunday hardly indicates that they’re set up for a deep playoff run.
New Orleans Saints (-10) vs Chicago Bears
The Saints beat the Carolina Panthers 33-7 last week despite their top four running backs all being placed on the Reserve list and therefore unable to play.
New Orleans have now won 11 of their last 13 games. One of their two defeats came with star quarterback Drew Brees sidelined with broken ribs, and the other came when he was not completely healthy in his first week back.
The Saints’ offense should be close to full health this week, which bodes poorly for a Bears team that they beat 26-23 in Chicago back in Week 8.
The Bears started the season 5-1 but went 3-7 the rest of the way to limp into the playoffs, and it’s hard to see them even keeping it close on the road against an elite team like the Saints.
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