NFL Wild Card Weekend 2014: Predictions for Sunday's Games

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIApril 7, 2017

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 29: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears on December 29, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

If the last day of Wild Card Weekend is anything like the first one, then NFL fans are in for a treat.

The first two games of the NFL playoffs featured an epic 28-point comeback from the Indianapolis Colts to take down the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite three interceptions, Andrew Luck led his team to a win thanks to five total touchdowns, including one off a fumble recovery.

A few hours later, the New Orleans Saints came away with a one-point win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Below is a look at the two games on Sunday, with breakdowns and predictions of both.


San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Date: Sunday, January 5

Time: 1:05 p.m. ET


Prediction: 28-24, Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals look like one of the most complete teams in the AFC heading into the playoffs, and they'll be up against the San Diego Chargers, who barely squeaked into the postseason thanks to a dramatic win over the Kansas City Chiefs and losses from both the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens.

Offensively, the Chargers are still probably in good shape, even against the Bengals and their stingy defense. Philip Rivers threw for 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions while completing 69.5 percent of his passes this season, which gave him a 105.5 passer rating. Ryan Mathews had a career year as well, putting up 1,255 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.

But the problem for the Chargers will be on defense. They struggled against the pass all season, allowing 258.7 passing yards per game and a 96.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks. Andy Dalton isn't the most consistent quarterback, but when he's hot, he can go off, especially against a pass defense like this.

With players like A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Giovani Bernard, the Bengals have too many weapons for San Diego to handle. Rivers and company won't go down quietly, but Dalton will have a good game and give Cincinnati a much-needed playoff victory.


San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

Date: Sunday, January 5

Time: 4:40 p.m. ET

TV: Fox

Prediction: 30-27, 49ers

All of the talk heading into this game is about the weather. According to the NFL on ESPN, the low on game day is expected to be minus-18.

But there's so much more to this game than the polar temperature. This is a rematch between two teams that have seen quite a bit of each other over the past couple of years, and the Green Bay Packers are looking to finally take down the San Francisco 49ers.

The last time they met in the playoffs, Colin Kaepernick ran for more than 180 yards, while San Francisco as a whole went off for 323 yards on the ground. The run defense for the Packers is still a major concern, as they finished 25th in the league and allowed 125 yards per game on the ground.

With how often the 49ers run the ball, this is a serious problem.

The good news for the Packers is that Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb are finally back, and they looked to be on the same page in Week 17 against the Chicago Bears. The Packers also have something that they lacked in their last few games against the 49ers: a run game.

Eddie Lacy is making a serious case for Rookie of the Year after running for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. With him and James Starks in the backfield, Green Bay could open up the field by establishing a ground game and giving opportunities to Rodgers to make big plays.

But considering the top-five defense they're going against, it's hard to believe that the Packers will win this one. The 49ers are one of the best teams in the league with few glaring weaknesses, and they should run over the struggling Packers defense once again and pull out a close victory.