Finally, it’s here. After a grueling 16-game regular season, only 12 teams remain to contend for the NFL’s ultimate prize – the Lombardi Trophy. The Baltimore Ravens, the AFC’s top seed, get a first-round bye as do the Kansas City Chiefs. The same holds for the NFC’s top two seeds, the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.
The rest of the field begins play this weekend in the Wild Card round. Here’s a preview of the action.
Injuries Key for Houston
With WR Will Fuller in the lineup, Houston QB Deshaun Watson’s quarterback rating is 77.3. Without him, it’s 64.4. Fuller missed much of the second half of the season and sat out a meaningless Week 17 game. He is listed as questionable for Saturday.
The Texans defense may also get a boost if J.J. Watt can play. The perennial All-Pro suffered a torn pectoral muscle that put him on injured reserve earlier this season. Watt is needed as the Texans were just 27th in sack rate and 31st in the league in yards allowed per drive.
The Bills defense is one of the league’s best. Buffalo allowed 24 or fewer points in 15 of its 16 games this season. Since 2018, the Bills defense has allowed only 26 plays of 30 yards or more. The problem for Buffalo is the offense. In five games against playoff teams, Buffalo QB Josh Allen’s completion percentage was just 51.6 percent. Not surprisingly, the Bills went 1-4 as the offense averaged 14 points in those five games.
Can Patriots Reach AFC Title Game?
New England will have trouble making it past Tennessee on Saturday. The Patriots had the best offense and defense in the league early in the season before the offense tanked. It didn’t help that OT Isaiah Wynn, FB James Develin, and K Stephen Gostkowkski got hurt, but the Patriots just don’t have many weapons. Can they beat anybody with James White and Julian Edelman as their main weapons?
Tennessee is riding the wave of QB Ryan Tannehill. Since taking over as the starter in Week 7, the Titans are 7-3. Tannehill averages 9.6 yards per pass attempt, a full yard better than his closest competitor. Running back Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing and the Titans are absolutely tearing it up in the red zone.
Since Tannehill has taken over at quarterback, Tennessee is scoring touchdowns on 80.5 percent of their red zone trips. If that stays consistent on Saturday, the Titans could pull the biggest upset of the postseason.