NFL PLAYOFFS: It’s about to get real, folks: the regular season has limped to its conclusion and we’re about to get a heavy dose of intense playoff football. Wild Card Weekend consists of six games over three days, with every remaining team in action aside from the top seeds in each conference. It simply doesn’t get much better for degenerate football fans like us.

Instead of choosing my favorite games to write up, we’ve taken a quick look at all of this weekend’s action and provided some thoughts. Here’s what I’ve got:


Cleveland Browns @ Houston Texans (CLE -2.5, 44) *SATURDAY 16:30 EST*

The Browns beat the Texans by two touchdowns just three weeks ago, but Houston was without rookie QB C.J. Stroud, who has been tremendous this season and is the primary reason why the Texans were able to win the AFC South. Stroud plays fearless and has proven his doubters wrong at every turn. That said, he’ll be facing a defense here that is better than any he’s seen this season, as the Browns lead the NFL in both total yards allowed and pass yards allowed. Since veteran QB Joe Flacco arrived to stabilize the offense Cleveland has won 4 of 5 games (not counting Week 18, when Flacco and several other starters sat), and with their defense and running game the Browns feel like a dark horse Super Bowl contender to me. Prediction: Cleveland 24, Houston 17


Miami Dolphins @ Kansas City Chiefs (KC -4.5, 43.5) *SATURDAY 20:15 EST*

Enjoy this game from your couch and don’t envy the poor folks at the stadium– with sub-zero kickoff temps expected and a wind chill that would make an Eskimo shiver, this is expected to be one of the coldest games in NFL history. Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa, who is from Hawaii and played collegiately in the South, is 0-4 in his career in games with kickoff temps below 45 degrees, and it’s going to be way, way colder than 45 in this one. Speaking of cold, the Kansas City offense absolutely wilted over the second half of the season, with opposing teams finally figuring out ways to interrupt the Mahomes-to-Kelce connection and the supporting cast being unable to pick up the slack. The high-scoring Miami offense received all the accolades throughout the year, but the Dolphins defense was one of the best units in the league over the second half of the season and I expect them to make life really difficult for Mahomes and Co. in this one. Can Tua engineer the upset in Arrowhead, though? I have my doubts, but this should be a good one. Prediction: Kansas City 21, Miami 20


Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills (BUF -9.5, 34.5) *SUNDAY 13:00 EST*

We get one laugher every Wild Card Weekend, and this one sure feels like it’s going to be that kind of game. The Bills have been rolling for the past month, winning five straight games to rocket up the standings and claim the AFC’s 2 seed. Their reward is a matchup against a dreadful Pittsburgh team that Mike Tomlin somehow, some way, dragged into the playoffs. Only four teams scored fewer points than the Steelers this season, while the Buffalo defense ranked 4th in the league with 18.3 ppg allowed. It’s difficult to imagine Pittsburgh having any sustained success on offense in this game, which is a big reason why the posted total is a mere 34.5. And it’s not like the Steelers are dominant defensively, either, as they ranked in the bottom-half of the league in total defense and their best player on that side of the ball, T.J. Watt, will miss this game after injuring his knee last week. The Bills are 13-2 in home playoff games since 1970. Blowout incoming. Prediction: Buffalo 31, Pittsburgh 3


Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys (DAL -7, 51) *SUNDAY 16:30 EST*

These teams have played some memorable playoff games over the years, and ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy now being on the Dallas sideline adds a little extra spice to this one. The matchup to watch here will be the quarterbacks: Dallas signal-caller Dak Prescott is coming off the best season of his career, putting up 4,500 passing yards and leading the NFL with 36 TD passes, but his counterpart here, Green Bay’s Jordan Love, has been turning heads with his play the past few weeks and will be full of confidence and swagger heading into this one. Love will be facing a Dallas defense that surrendered the second-fewest passing yards in the NFC, however, and he’ll be having to dodge Micah Parsons, one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushers. The Green Bay defense, meanwhile, really struggles to stop the run, surrendering 128.3 rush ypg (28th in NFL) and 4.4 ypc, so Dallas RB Tony Pollard should have an opportunity for a big game. An upset is not out of the realm of possibility here, but it’s tough to go against a Dallas team that has looked like a Super Bowl contender for much of the season. Prediction: Dallas 34, Green Bay 27


Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions (DET -3, 51.5) *SUNDAY 20:15 EST*

Matt Stafford returns to Detroit, where he spent the first 12 years of his career, to try and spoil the Lions’ first home playoff game in 30 years. It’s poetic, isn’t it? And Stafford will have a good chance, as his Rams have been playing some great football lately, winning 4 straight games and 7 of 8, making them one of the hottest teams in the playoff field. The Lions were 3-2 in their last five, but all three wins came against losing teams, and you get the sense that they’ve lost some momentum since their red-hot stretch earlier this season. They also struggle in the secondary, ranking 27th in the NFL in pass yards allowed, and that could be bad news against an explosive Rams passing attack that features a pair of dynamic weapons on the perimeter in Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. Prediction: Los Angeles 35, Detroit 31


Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (PHI -3, 43.5) *MONDAY 20:15 EST*

I know, I know: the Eagles have fallen apart, losing 5 of 6 to barely sneak into the playoffs after spending much of the season as a contender for the NFC’s top seed. The offense is stuck in neutral, and the defense has allowed 30.3 ppg over the team’s past six games. But… they’re still better than the Bucs though, right? I mean… they’re not going to go down to Tampa and lose to Baker Mayfield, are they? The Bucs beat some bad teams towards the end of the season to win the worst division in football, but they’re still a team that ranks in the bottom-half of the NFL in both total offense and total defense, and they’ve only beaten 1 team with a winning record all season. Plus, they lost to this Philly team by two touchdowns back in Week 3. I don’t think the Eagles have fallen quite this far, I really don’t. But if I were a fan, I would be nervous. Awfully nervous. Prediction: Philadelphia 20, Tampa Bay 17


THE STRIKER Tues: ARSENAL v CHELSEA
THE ULTRA Tues: LAZIO v JUVENTUS
THE EDGE IPL Tues: Chennai Super Kings v Lucknow Super Giants
DAQMAN Mon: Pontefract NAP
DAQSTATS Mon: Pontefract NAP
THE ULTRA Mon: Serie A Preview
THE EDGE IPL Mon: Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
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