NFL Playoff Bracket 2019: TV Schedule and Predictions for Wild-Card Weekend

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2019

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
John Froschauer/Associated Press

The NFL wild-card round contains a pair of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks attempting to lead their teams back to the championship and another who has stood on the sideline and watched one of the league's best young talents take over. 

Seattle's Russell Wilson is the first of the past Super Bowl champions to take the field in the first weekend of January, as he opposes the Dallas Cowboys.

Nick Foles has an opportunity to finish off the weekend with a victory to extend Philadelphia's remarkable run, but he faces a difficult task against the Chicago Bears defense. 

Baltimore's Joe Flacco appears to be on his way out of the franchise, but before he departs the Ravens, he'll get a chance to watch rookie Lamar Jackson marvel in at least one more game. 

The one wild-card matchup that doesn't feature Super Bowl winners under center pits a pair of head coaches who experienced title runs as either a player or a coach. 

                        

Wild-Card Schedule and Odds (via OddsShark)

All Times ET. Picks against the spread in bold.

            

Saturday, January 5

Indianapolis at Houston (-2) (4:35 p.m., ESPN/ABC) 

Seattle at Dallas (-2.5) (8:15 p.m. Fox) 

           

Sunday, January 6

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore (-2.5) (1:05 p.m., CBS) 

Philadelphia at Chicago (-6) (4:40 p.m., NBC) 

                 

Predictions

Seattle 20, Dallas 14

One of the most intriguing matchups of wild-card weekend pits Wilson against the Dallas defense. 

Back in Week 3, Wilson threw for 192 yards and a pair of touchdowns, as the Seahawks knocked off the Cowboys 24-13 at CenturyLink Field. 

While that victory counts for something when previewing Saturday night's clash at AT&T Stadium, it's worth noting both teams are much different now. 

The Cowboys didn't turn a corner until November, when they started a five-game winning streak to move into first place in the NFC East.

During that stretch, the Dallas defense jumped into the national spotlight by holding the New Orleans Saints to 10 points in Week 13. 

Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are the top players on the Dallas defense, and they'll be tasked with not only limiting the production of Seattle's running backs, but containing Wilson when he tries to break free from the pocket with his legs. 

In December, Wilson took off running on 26 attempts and gained 145 yards, and while that's not as much as other running quarterbacks like Jackson gained during that span, it was enough to keep opposing defenses honest. 

While Dallas' defense will do a nice job limiting the times Wilson can scamper for first downs, the Seattle quarterback still catches the Cowboys off guard on a few occasions.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

With Wilson extending a few drives with his legs, he'll make a few explosive throws to Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin to set up short touchdown runs out of Chris Carson. 

Although Dallas' defense is more than deserving of the praise it receives, Seattle has a unit that demands some respect as well. 

The Seahawks forced 26 turnovers in the regular season, which was six more than the Cowboys earned. 

Pete Carroll's team was one of five franchises to give up less than 10 touchdowns on the ground, and that's significant, with the NFL's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott lining up against it Saturday. 

There will be a window for Dak Prescott to take advantage of a Seattle passing defense that ranks 17th in yards conceded per game, but the difference-makers on defense will be the Seahawks front seven, led by linebacker Bobby Wagner. 

By forcing Dallas to settle for field goals when it reaches the red zone, Seattle keeps the game close and eventually works its way into the lead behind Wilson in the second half. 

                            

Chicago 21, Philadelphia 13

Foles and the Eagles have an opportunity to capture their second straight Super Bowl crown thanks to their wild-card opponent. 

With Chicago's win over Minnesota in Week 17, the Eagles leapfrogged the Vikings and landed a Sunday afternoon trip to Soldier Field. 

While the Eagles are happy to be in the playoffs, they won't be pleased with the result that comes out of the final wild-card game. 

Although Foles delivered some late-season magic in the pocket, he was far from perfect, as he threw an interception in four of his five starts in the regular season.

The turnover trend continues Sunday, as Chicago's menacing defense, which ranks first in total turnovers and interceptions, changes the game with an interception or two. 

David Banks/Associated Press

The only reason the Eagles stay in the contest for as long as they do is their defense, which holds the Bears to a few field-goal attempts, and that's the last thing Bears fans want to hear after Cody Parkey missed seven field goals in the regular season.

While Foles and the offense received much of the praise in December, the Philadelphia defense enters the postseason on the heels of a shutout against Washington. 

As long as the Eagles are able to contain Tarik Cohen out of the backfield, they should be able to limit the progress of the Bears. 

Although Philadelphia puts up a valiant effort, a pair of former Philadelphia players finish off the Eagles' dreams of repeating. 

Trey Burton, who was involved in the "Philly Special" play in Super Bowl LII, catches the game-winning touchdown pass from Mitch Trubisky, while Parkey scores the game's final point on a PAT. 

                      

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

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