AFC Wild Card Preview

I previewed the NFC yesterday and gave my predictions for all of the games this weekend. I went with the favorites in all three games because the NFC doesn’t seem to have exciting matchups. Next week will be different as you have big name quarterbacks potentially squaring off. On the AFC side, things are a lot more interesting. Four of the six teams sit at 11-5 and had to battle it out the whole second half of the season just to get into the playoffs. Kansas City gets the bye but I’m not completely sold on their roster this year. They are not playing like the squad we saw win the Super Bowl last year. Let’s dive into what we have this weekend.

No. 7 Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Gametime: Saturday 1:05 pm
Spread: Bills -6.5
Total: O/U 51.5

What to Know: This Colts team has a defense that could give Josh Allen and the Buffalo defense some problems. They are very sound and don’t give up big plays so Allen will have to take care of the football and lead the Bills on long drives. For the Colts to win, they have to get him to turn it over at least once. I don’t know if they have it in them as this is Allen’s chance to put his name near the top of the QB list in the league.

On the other side, Philip Rivers has shown his age and made some terrible decisions down the stretch of games. They’ve been able to work through it in a few games but are 3-4 against playoff teams. The Bills defense is much like the Colts in the sense that they will make you earn every single yard. I think the Bills come out slow but come on strong in the second half for a convincing win.

Gambling Tip: The over is 5-0 in the Colts’ last five games against teams with a winning record.

Prediction: Colts 34 Bills 24

No. 6 Cleveland Browns (11-5) at No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
Gametime: Sunday 8:15 pm
Spread: Steelers -3.5
Total: O/U 47

What to Know: The Browns were able to narrowly pull out a victory last week against the Steelers despite Pittsburgh resting most of their best players. T.J. Watt is back in the lineup and will cause havoc in the Browns backfield all day. He’ll have to make up for the loss of Bud Dupree as he had two sacks in the first matchup between these two teams.

Reports out of Pittsburgh are that Ben Roethlisberger feels rejuvenated in practice after taking last week off. The Browns pass defense ranks 25th in Defense-Adjusted Value over Average and let this Steeler offense put up 315 with Mason Rudolph at quarterback. Good for Browns fans for getting to see their team play in the playoffs but this is going to be a quick exit.

Gambling Tip: Browns are 9-25-1 against the spread in their last 35 against the AFC North.

Prediction: Browns 17 Steelers 31

No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at No. 4 Tennessee Titans (11-5)
Gametime: Sunday 1:05 pm
Spread: Ravens -4.5
Total: O/U 54.5

What to Know: The Ravens are possibly the hottest team in the league as they’ve won five straight in convincing fashion. The defense was strong all year while the offense took some time to get going . Lamar Jackson has hit his stride, getting back to what the expectations were to begin the season.

That defense that I talked about was the second best scoring defense in the league this year. On top of the talent they have, they have a chip on their shoulder after the performances that Derrick Henry has put up against them both this season and last playoffs. He had 133 in the Week 11 victory and 195 yards in last years 28-12 win. As good as Derrick Henry is when the weather gets cold, I think the Ravens step up and throw their hat in the ring for scariest team in the AFC.

Gambling Tip: The under is 7-0 in the Raven’s last seven playoff games when they are the favorite.

Prediction: Ravens 24 Titans 16

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