Saturday's wild-card slate set the tone for the 2018-19 NFL playoffs. One thing has already been proved: How a team played in the regular season does not matter.
The Houston Texans, who won the AFC South and at one point had a nine-game winning streak, were lifeless at home in a 21-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. A fully healthy Andrew Luck had the Colts offense clicking, while the Texans offensive line couldn't protect quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Even worse for Texans faithful was that star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins finished the game with a Grade 3 AC sprain.
Indianapolis will travel to Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday to face the No. 1-seeded Kansas City Chiefs. The last time those teams met in the postseason, Luck led the then-second-largest comeback in NFL history to stun the Chiefs in 2014.
The No. 2-seeded New England Patriots won't know who their divisional-round opponent will be until the winner of the Baltimore Ravens-Los Angeles Chargers wild-card matchup is decided on Sunday.
In the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys defended their home turf and stifled the Seattle Seahawks 24-22. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott carried the 'boys with 26 carries for 137 yards, while Seattle's usually potent running game was shut down for just 73 total yards by Dallas' championship-caliber defense.
The divisional round in the NFC is still up in the air.
(All odds via OddsShark.)
AFC Wild Card
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) | O/U 42
It was as recently as Dec. 22 that we saw the Ravens stonewall the Chargers 22-10 in L.A during Week 16.
Now, Los Angeles is seeking revenge.
L.A. has been hopeful that tight end Hunter Henry, who missed the entire regular season with a torn ACL, would be able to play on Sunday, but he was officially ruled out on Saturday afternoon. The Chargers could have used the extra offensive help against the best defense in the NFL.
Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers threw two interceptions in each of L.A.'s final three regular-season games—including throwing a pick on the game's first offensive play against both the Chiefs and Ravens. He has to take care of the ball in Baltimore on Sunday.
In Week 16 against the Ravens, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon was kept to only 41 yards on 12 carries. He has been nursing a knee injury throughout the regular season, and he has had a couple more weeks to get healthier.
What the 25-year-old back is able to create on the ground will be crucial in opening up what can be a dynamic Chargers aerial attack.
Remember, the Ravens almost missed out on the postseason entirely. The Cleveland Browns came up two points short in Week 17, and Baltimore's saving grace was an interception of rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield on fourth down.
L.A. posted a 7-1 away record in the regular season, while Baltimore went 6-2 at home. Something has to give, and it's hard to be convinced that the Ravens defense will be what cracks.
This will be rookie Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson's first playoff game—and we saw how that went for Texans counterpart Deshaun Watson on Saturday. Jackson has been poised in his seven NFL starts and must maintain the composure on Sunday.
Not for nothing: On Saturday, Gordon's Uber driver sided with the Ravens without knowing who his passenger was.
Prediction: Ravens repeat Week 16, winning 24-17.
NFC Wild Card
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (-6.5) | O/U 41.5
The story heading into this game is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. As everybody knows by now, Foles stepped in for the Eagles last season when starting quarterback Carson Wentz went down with injury. The back-up led Philly to its first Super Bowl in franchise history and won the Super Bowl MVP.
Since taking over again for the 2018 Eagles in Week 15 under the same circumstances, Philadelphia is undefeated.
However, Foles is battling bumps and bruises of his own. The 29-year-old has had to exit the Eagles' past two games, even if briefly, because of chest pain. It was confirmed after Week 17 that Foles had bruised ribs.
Ahead of Philadelphia's wild-card matchup with the Chicago Bears, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson commented on Foles' injury status, as Evan Macy of PhillyVoice relayed:
"He's doing everything he can, with treatment and rehab protocols we have him on and what he wants to do. He's feeling good. He threw [Thursday]. Did a nice job and we just have to keep — see where he's at again [Friday], but each day he's getting better."
The vaunted Bears defense—featuring the likes of Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks—will show Foles no mercy.
The Bears finished the regular season by winning nine of their final 10 games—two of those matchups without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, which speaks to the dominance of Chicago's defense, even if those wins came against the Detroit Lions and New York Giants.
Foles threw one interception in each of his three starts to finish the regular season, but Chicago's defense leads the NFL with 27 interceptions. We've all seen Foles do what seemed to be the impossible, but this Bears defense has given no reason to be doubted—even in an offense-dominated league and going up against an offense averaging 420 yards per game with Foles under center.
Chicago has listed tight end Trey Burton as questionable with a groin injury.
Prediction: Chicago bears down and ends defending champs' hopes at repeat, winning 20-10.