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NFL Wild Card Weekend 2018: TV Schedule, Live Stream and Predictions for Sunday

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2018

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills rushes during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints will try to avoid the same fate as the home teams from Saturday of Wild Card Weekend. 

The pair of home favorites are attempting to become the first two home victors of the postseason after the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams were knocked out during Saturday's play. 

Jacksonville's mighty defense will square off against a Buffalo Bills offense dealing with the ankle injury to running back LeSean McCoy in the early afternoon contest, while New Orleans' high-powered offense led by quarterback Drew Brees and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram will try to overpower the Carolina Panthers for the third time this season. 

      

Sunday TV and Live Streaming Schedule

Buffalo at Jacksonville (1 p.m. ET, CBS, CBS Sports App)

Carolina at New Orleans (4:40 p.m. ET, Fox, Fox Sports Go) 

      

McCoy Questionable for Bills' First Playoff Game Since 1999

After a boisterous celebration that lasted a few days in western New York, the Bills got to work this week to try and figure out how to thrive on offense without McCoy at full strength. 

McCoy is officially listed as questionable for the road game in Jacksonville, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter

In the final seven games of the regular season, McCoy averaged 77.6 yards on 18.6 carries per game. In three of those contests, the running back recorded 20 or more carries. 

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: LeSean McCoy #25 of the Buffalo Bills runs the ball against the New England Patriots during the first half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

McCoy also became a larger part of the passing game plan over the last three weeks, as he caught 11 balls for 144 yards. 

If McCoy is affected by his ankle and can't get into a groove on Sunday afternoon, it could damage any productivity the Bills have on offense. 

The backup option for the Bills at running back is Mike Tolbert, who has a bevy of experience but isn't as shifty as McCoy. 

The 32-year-old picked up 39 yards on seven carries in Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins, but he hasn't run more for than 42 yards in a single game this season. 

BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Mike Tolbert #35 of the Buffalo Bills in action during NFL game action against the New Orleans Saints at New Era Field on November 12, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

If McCoy is ineffective and Tolbert can't get by the Jaguars defense, quarterback Tyrod Taylor will be forced to get the job done against the top passing defense in the league. 

Jacksonville will rely heavily on its defense, which is the second-best unit in the NFL behind the Minnesota Vikings, to slow down Buffalo's offense and make quarterback Blake Bortles' life much easier with momentum and short field position. 

Prediction: Jaguars 27, Bills 16

       

Saints Vying for 3rd Win over Panthers 

Beating an opponent three times in a season is a feat even the best teams in football have trouble achieving.

The Saints and Panthers are familiar foes, but Sean Payton's team has all of the prior experience ready to overwhelm its NFC South foe and move on to Minnesota for the divisional round. 

In order to make the trek north for next Sunday, the Saints must follow the same formula that led them to the duo of regular-season triumphs over the Panthers. 

Kamara and Ingram will likely see the ball around 15 times each as the Saints look to force the Panthers to focus on the run before Brees opens up and unloads on the Carolina secondary with his receivers in potential one-on-one situations. 

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24:  Alvin Kamara #41 of the New Orleans Saints and  Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints talk during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo b
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Saints have the second-best total offense in the NFL, and their passing and rushing games rank fifth in their respective standings. If the Saints are able to record anywhere close to their average of 391.2 yards per game, they'll pummel the Panthers defense and give the opposing offense little room to play catch up. 

In order for the Panthers to gain an early foothold and stay competitive throughout the second half, quarterback Cam Newton must avoid turnovers and spread the ball out in the passing game. 

The usage of running back Christian McCaffrey could be vital, especially in short-yardage situations. Letting the rookie loose would be an ideal strategy that way the dominant Saints secondary has another weapon to worry about, which could lead to open receivers on a few plays if Carolina designs the plays properly. 

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 17:  Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers during their game against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium on December 17, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 31-24.  (Photo by Grant Halverson
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Defensively, the linebackers led by Luke Kuechly will be a vital second layer of defense against a Saints team that ran for 297 yards in the two regular-season meetings between the NFC South rivals. 

Prediction: Saints 24, Panthers 17 

      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

All statistics obtained from ESPN.com

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