It's been an exciting NFL season. And it should only get better from here.
The regular season came to a close on Sunday, as the San Francisco 49ers secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the NFC West title, the Philadelphia Eagles captured the NFC East title and the Buffalo Bills nabbed the second AFC wild-card berth. That finalized the field of 12 teams for this year's postseason.
Now, it's time to turn our focus to the upcoming playoff action. There will be four games this weekend in the Wild Card Round, with the two AFC games taking place Saturday followed by the two NFC games on Sunday.
Here are predictions for each of the four wild-card matchups.
Bills notch their first playoff win in more than two decades
In the early 1990s, the Bills were on top of the AFC. They reached the Super Bowl in four straight seasons from 1990-93. Buffalo wasn't quite as successful in the latter part of that decade, but it still made the playoffs four times in five seasons from 1995-99.
Then, the Bills didn't make the playoffs again until 2017. Their postseason losing streak has now reached five games, as they haven't notched a playoff victory since beating the Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card Round in the 1995 season. However, it's time for Buffalo to end this long streak.
Although the Bills are on the road on Saturday, they're taking on the Texans, who haven't won more than two games in a row this season and have been inconsistent all year. At 10-6, Houston had the worst record of the four AFC division winners and the same mark as Buffalo.
It'll be the Bills' defense, which is ranked No. 3 in the NFL at 298.3 total yards allowed per game, that will lead them to victory. However, they'll then have to face the top-seeded Ravens in the AFC Division Round because of what will happen in the conference's other wild-card matchup.
Patriots bounce back with a vengeance against Titans
With the level of success the Patriots have had over the past two decades, it likely feels like a disappointment for them not to have a first-round bye. Especially because they would have secured one with a win on Sunday, but instead they lost to the lowly Dolphins 27-24 at home.
Now, New England will have to play a wild-card game for the first time since the 2009 season, after it had a first-round bye every season from 2010-18. And after losing three of their last five games, the Pats will be motivated to bounce back in a big way.
That should happen against the Titans, who went 9-7 for the fourth consecutive year and have the worst record of any of this season's 12 playoff teams. Tennessee lost two straight games before its Week 17 win at Houston, and it was aided in making the postseason by Pittsburgh's collapse to end the regular season. (The Steelers lost three straight games to end the year.)
The Patriots' No. 1-ranked defense should shut down the Titans' offense, and veteran quarterback Tom Brady will continue to add to his storied postseason career by leading New England to another playoff win.
Saints begin path back to NFC Championship Game with a victory
Last year's NFC Championship Game is likely still fresh in the memory of Saints fans heading into this postseason. That was when New Orleans lost in overtime to the Rams, falling just short of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season.
Unlike last season, the Saints don't have a first-round bye this time, despite going 13-3 during the regular season. So, if they're going to get back to the conference championship game, it's going to take two wins, starting with Sunday's wild-card matchup against the Vikings.
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, Minnesota won 29-24 in the NFC Divisional Round two years ago.
However, the Saints have too many playmakers, including running back Alvin Kamara and wide receiver Michael Thomas, and the Vikings won't be able to stop their offense. Expect New Orleans to pull away for a sizable home victory, advancing to play Green Bay in the next round.
Seahawks take down Eagles in Philadelphia again
After losing at home to the 49ers on Sunday night, the Seahawks are stumbling into the postseason. It was Seattle's third loss in its last four games, and now it will likely be on the road for its entire playoff path.
That's not going to be an issue on Sunday, though. The Seahawks are facing the Eagles in Philadelphia, and it wasn't long ago that they traveled there and notched a victory. Seattle won in Philadelphia in Week 12, when it secured a 17-9 victory.
The Eagles are playing better now, as they won their last four games to capture the NFC East title and reach the playoffs for the third straight season. However, they will likely be outmatched by the Seahawks, who are too talented of a team to have their season end here.
Combined with New Orleans' win, Seattle's victory will lead to the Seahawks traveling to San Francisco for a rematch with the 49ers in the NFC Divisional Round.