Legacy 🔥n Fire Presents: Wild Card Weekend Predictions

By: James Brown

Headline Photo Courtesy: Cincy Jungle

The table has been set and the road to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles will begin this weekend with the Wild Card Round. Let’s take a look at the sleigh of matchups we have to look forward to this weekend.

Saturday afternoon the Las Vegas Raiders travel to Cincinnati to face off against MVP longshot Joe Burrow and the Bengals. The Raiders have overcome a lot to get to this point. The resignation of their Head Coach, the Henry Ruggs situation, the Damon Arnette fiasco, and the passing NFL legend John Madden. Through it, they have rallied, clawed, and found a way to win. Meanwhile, the Bengals have been riding the coattails on the Burrow to Chase connection. The two have been a dynamite combo that has put up big numbers this season. Zac Taylor has turned it around this season as the Bengals won the AFC North for the first time since 2015. Despite their ability to overcome adversity, I believe the Raider’s magic runs out this Saturday in Cincinnati. The Bengals will be looking to win their first playoff game since 1991 and Joe Burrow has this energy about him that just get the team excited and pumped with confidence. Look for the Bengals to take advantage of the Raiders’ weaker secondary with Chase, Boyd, and Higgins. Joe Mixon also provides Burrow another option coming out of the backfield. Look for the Bengals to win 33-27.

The next game of the Saturday doubleheader is the New England Patriots traveling to Buffalo to take on the AFC East rival Bills. These two teams are no strangers to one another as they regularly meet twice a year. This will be their third matchup this season and each side already has a win under their belt against the other. New England has found their way back to the postseason after a short hiatus with rookie QB Mac Jones under center. Belichick will be looking to keep it simple for Jones and the offense Saturday night. Run the ball, take what the defense gives, and don’t turn the ball over. On the other side, Buffalo and the Bills Mafia will be looking to prove they are the top team in the East and that they no longer fear the Patriots. Josh Allen has had another great statistical season leading this Bills offense tossing 36 TDs and adding 6 TDs on the ground as well. The game will come down to which QB makes the least mistakes. Jones is still just a rookie and at times it has shown. New England’s defense will look to give Jones and the offense a few extra possessions by generating pressure on Allen possibly nabbing a few turnovers. For Buffalo to win Josh Allen is going to have to play a near-perfect game. Belichick will be looking to throw everything at Allen to try and confuse or slow him down. Allen’s legs will also be big for Buffalo as he’s been their best runner as well. I think Allen can outduel the Chess Master Belichick and the Bills get the win 27-24.

Sunday things get started with the Philadelphia Eagles taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nobody and I mean nobody expected the Eagles to make it this far. The Eagles have made it this far by riding their RPO game. Jalen Hurts has shown that he has a real handle on this offense and proven that he can be a starting QB that the Eagles can move forward. Tampa will have to be careful as Hurts can hurt them through the air as well as on the ground. The Eagles’ defense still has some crafty veterans as well that could also potentially work in their favor. The reigning champ Buccaneers are looking to repeat their previous year’s performance and help Tom Brady hoist his 8th Lombardy trophy. This season will be a little different as Brady is missing some weapons on offense in WRs Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown. Tampa does have experience on their side as well. Their defense is healthier, and they’ll be looking to get after Hurts and keep him contained in the pocket. The Buccaneers should win this game outright. Despite missing some players Tom Brady has been here before and has won with less offensively and as long as you have #12 on your side your odds are good. Philly will try their best to keep the game competitive, but Tampa will end up pulling away for the win 41-24.

Our next game is reminiscent of a feuded 80s and early 90s rivalry, the next installation of the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Dallas Cowboys. We all remember those moments and the guys that led the way for these two storied franchises Montana, Aikman, Rice, Irvin, Craig, Smith. Now we get to see the next generation of players. Dak Prescott will be looking to prove he was worth the extensive contract extension he received in the offseason and a Dallas win here would be a step in the right direction. Jerry Jones wants another title, and he has paid his players well to ensure he gets one. Dallas has been explosive on offense this season with CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper leading the passing attack for Dak. Zeke also churned out another 1,000-yard season and we saw Tony Pollard provide some spark for this offense as well. The Defense has also stepped up this season especially with the play of Trevon Diggs and rookie standout LB Micah Parsons. The 49ers will be looking to spoil things for Dallas as they’ll be looking to run wild on the Cowboys’ defense and put the pressure on Dak to win the game. Coach Shannahan knows how to scheme up the run whether it be an RB or WR Deebo Samuel lining up in the backfield. The 49ers will be looking to methodically move the ball downfield. We’ve seen a few times this season where San Francisco has imposed their will on teams. Pounding the ball on the ground and keeping the opposing QB on the sidelines. Dallas will look to take an early lead and force the 49ers to put the game on the arm of Jimmy Garoppolo. I see this game coming down to coaching and time management and the 49ers hold the advantage in that category. The 49ers will get the road upset 21-14 against the Cowboys.

We wrap up Sunday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers visiting the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers squeaked their way into the playoffs in what is believed to be Ben Roethlisberger’s final season. The Steelers will try to extend Ben’s career another week unfortunately they drew the Chiefs as their matchup. While both teams are no strangers to the Playoffs they seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Steelers’ future seems a bit murky with Roethlisberger’s future in question and no clear succession plan in place meanwhile the Chiefs have arguably the face of the league for the next decade at QB in Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has already shredded this Pittsburgh defense before as the Chiefs defeated the Steelers 36-10 back in week 16. Pittsburgh’s only hope to win this game is their defense leads the way manages to keep this Chief’s offense grounded. The Steelers do have the likely Defensive Player of the Year on their roster in TJ Watt along with other household names on defense such as Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, I believe Ben is faced to make his decision on retirement as the Chiefs offense will just be too much to overcome. Mahomes is on a mission to add to his ring collection, Chiefs get the win over the Steelers 35-7.

In the first-ever Monday night Wild Card Game we’ll see NFC West rivals square off as the Arizona Cardinals face off against the Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals have been another surprise team this season as they reeled off 8 straight wins to start the season. Kyler Murray was once looked at to be an MVP candidate until an injury caused him to miss some time this season. Injuries seem to always be the Achilles’ heel of the Cardinals. They may be without star WR DeAndre Hopkins and we’re not sure what to expect from J.J. Watt as he is set to return from injury for this playoff run. The Rams and quarterback Matt Stafford will be looking to play for and win a championship in their home stadium. Stafford’s trade to the Rams was one the biggest moves of the offseason and now it’s time to show why the Rams pulled the trigger on the deal. Stafford has put up huge numbers this season in Sean McVay’s scheme and has found his favorite target in Cooper Kupp. This Rams team is full of stars on both sides of the ball they’re looking to bring a Lombardi trophy to the City of Angels. The Cardinals and Rams split their season series with each side winning a game on the opposing team’s turf. While the Cardinals will be able to put up points, I think they just won’t be able to make enough plays offensively to keep the Rams at bay. I’ll the Rams to win a close one 31-28