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NFL Playoff Bracket 2020: Scenarios and Predictions for Postseason Picture

Jake RillSenior Analyst IJanuary 1, 2020

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 29: Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints during the first half during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

By this time next month, we'll be gearing up for Super Bowl LIV. But first, there are 10 playoff games to be played.

The NFL playoffs get started this weekend with four wild-card matchups, two from the AFC and two from the NFC, featuring four division winners and four wild-card teams. The winners will advance to face the four teams that received first-round byes—the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

Here's a look at this weekend's schedule for the Wild Card Round, followed by predictions for how the matchups will unfold.

      

Wild-Card Schedule

Saturday, Jan. 4

No. 5 Buffalo at No. 4 Houston, 4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC

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No. 6 Tennessee at No. 3 New England, 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS

     

Sunday, Jan. 5

No. 6 Minnesota at No. 3 New Orleans, 1:05 p.m. ET on Fox

No. 5 Seattle at No. 4 Philadelphia, 4:40 p.m. ET on NBC

      

Wild-Card Predictions

Buffalo 21, Houston 14

New England 31, Tennessee 13

New Orleans 34, Minnesota 20

Seattle 24, Philadelphia 17

The AFC Wild Card Round is going to feature a pair of teams from the AFC East winning to advance to the next round. And both will do so on the strength of their defenses.

The Patriots had the top-ranked defense in the NFL this season, as they allowed 275.9 yards per game. The Titans offense played well during the second half of the season, but it's going to have a huge challenge facing this New England unit.

If the Pats needed any extra motivation to try to repeat as Super Bowl champions, then having to play in the Wild Card Round should provide it. This is the first time New England didn't get a first-round bye since the 2009 season, and it's made the playoffs every year since then.

Plus, the Patriots had a disappointing showing in their regular-season finale, losing to the Dolphins 27-24 at home. It's a performance they'll want to quickly bounce back from.

A top-tier defense and an offense led by Tom Brady? Seems like a formula for postseason success. In fact, it's one that the Patriots have used plenty of times before. They're not going to get knocked out in the Wild Card Round, so get ready to see them travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs next weekend.

As for the Bills, they've been on the other side of the postseason spectrum in recent years. They haven't won a playoff game since 1995, and they're making only their second postseason appearance in the past 20 seasons.

Buffalo is due, and it has the defense to get it off to a good start this postseason. The Bills were third in the NFL in yards allowed per game during the regular season (298.3).

The Texans will pose a challenge, as they have playmakers that could break out for a huge game. But the Bills are too strong defensively, and they'll clamp down on Houston while scoring enough points to pull out the victory.

With New England winning, Buffalo will travel to Baltimore to face the top-seeded Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round.

On the NFC side, it will be the Saints and Seahawks, two of the best teams during the regular season, that notch victories to advance.

New Orleans went 13-3 but has to play a wild-card game because San Francisco and Green Bay also each won 13 games and the Saints lost out on that tiebreaker. But this is a talented team capable of making a run to the Super Bowl, and having to play Sunday could just help it gain some momentum.

With a veteran quarterback who has won the Super Bowl before (Drew Brees) and a wide receiver who had an NFL-record 149 receptions during the regular season (Michael Thomas), the Saints offense will outscore the Vikings in a matchup that has the potential to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend.

Count on New Orleans winning and advancing to face the Packers in Green Bay next week.

The Seahawks won 11 games during the regular season, yet they'll be on the road facing the NFC East champion Eagles. Seattle lost three of its last four games, including a crucial Week 17 home matchup against San Francisco, which resulted in the team only getting a wild-card berth.

But the Seahawks will be a dangerous team this postseason while trying to navigate their way to the Super Bowl, even likely without any home games. (They could host the NFC Championship Game if the Vikings also make it.)

Being on the road won't matter this week as Seattle will win at Philadelphia, just like it did in Week 12. Russell Wilson will make enough big plays for the Seahawks to pull away for the victory.

Next week, the Seahawks will travel to San Francisco for a rematch with the top-seeded 49ers.

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