The regular season is done, nine teams from each conference are now at home focusing on Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft preparations, but also keeping a beady eye on what happens in this week’s Wildcard fixtures.
With a new and expanded playoff system to feature seven teams from each conference, only one team from each conference claimed a Bye in this wee. They were the Green Bay Packers in the NFC and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
The remaining six teams will play off in a trio of conference Wildcard games to decide which three will join the Packers and Chiefs next weekend in the Divisional Round. Three games will be played Saturday, with the remaining half played Sunday.
We have gone through each of Saturday’s big Wildcard showdowns and with odds provided by partner site DraftKings Sportsbook, we have picked who we think will win each of the trio of playoff clashes.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ Buffalo Bills (13-3)
The bookmakers have the Bills as the big favourites here and that isn’t surprising given that Josh
Allen has thrown for a franchise record 45 touchdowns this season and over the last three games, they have averaged just shy of 48 points per game.
Don’t rule out the Colts though. This is a solid team that does everything well with solid rankings for defense, offense and also special teams. They’ve added a stellar running game in the last few weeks too to give their offense a little added fizz. Quarterback Philip Rivers experience here will also be invaluable to them against a Bills side not overly familiar with playoff football.
On home soil, if the Bills get it right as they did last week against the Miami Dolphins in ending their playoff dreams, they could do likewise to the Colts here. I can’t back against the Bills for the win, but I do feel that the Colts will make this a lot closer than many people expect.
Score Prediction – Indianapolis Colts 23 Buffalo Bills 28
Moneyline Odds – Colts +255, Bills – 305
Los Angeles Rams (10-6) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
The first of two divisional matchups in the Wildcard Round this year sees NFC West rivals the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks lock horns once again. Both teams won their home game between each other in the regular season which suggests there is little between them heading into the second Wildcard game of the day.
What has been apparent in both the games in the regular season between the teams was that the Rams had more of the ball, but struggled against the Seahawks defense at times, particularly in Seattle. Seattle managed to win that game despite having the ball for a shorter time than the Rams and not moving the ball as far on offense.
Of the two teams, it is Seattle that are in the better form of the two having won six of their last seven, while the Rams have only managed to win three of their last six. The Seahawks are the slight favourites here, but I think they should be a slightly shorter price than that and I am backing them to win this one relatively comfortably.
Score Prediction – Los Angeles Rams 13 Seattle Seahawks 27
Moneyline Odds – Rams +180, Seahawks -205
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) @ Washington Football Team (7-9)
One team that gambled on a superstar line up of veterans in Free Agency faces a team that
stumbled into the playoffs with a record no better than at least six teams that missed out in other divisions. The Tampa Bay v Washington clash is certainly one that is intriguing for Saturday’s late game.
Washington’s defense is going to be a thing of beauty in a couple of years and it is this which has propelled them into the playoffs as the winners of the awful NFC East. In contrast, the Buccaneers had a strong season and had a playoff spot locked up on Week 16.
Now you only need to say Tom Brady and the playoffs to note that the Bucs have a big advantage here and the bookies tend to agree with that assessment. Let’s just say Washington are about the most fortunate team to be in the playoffs, but their good luck is not going to last particularly long.
Score Prediction – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38 Washington Football Team 17
Moneyline Odds – Buccaneers -400, Football Team +330
*All odds shown were correct with DraftKings Online Sportsbook at the time of writing.