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NFL Playoff Picks 2020: Odds and Last-Minute Predictions for Wild Card Weekend

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2020

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 1:  Deshaun Watson #4 and DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans on the field during the first half of a game against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Houston, Texas.  The Texans defeated the Patriots 28-22.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

After weeks of anticipation, the NFL postseason is here. Eight teams will be out to keep their Super Bowl LIV dreams alive on Wild Card Weekend.

Getting the action underway on Saturday will be some of the best teams the AFC has to offer, with last year's Super Bowl winners, the New England Patriots, hosting the Tennessee Titans.

Earlier in the day, the Buffalo Bills are at the Houston Texans in the other AFC wild-card clash. On Sunday, it's the turn of the NFC franchises, with the New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles welcoming the Seattle Seahawks.

Here is the Wild Card Weekend schedule, a prediction for each match and a closer look at the two AFC tussles.

                

Wild Card Weekend Schedule (Prediction)

Saturday, Jan. 4

No. 5 Buffalo at No. 4 Houston (-3), 4:35 p.m. ET (21-28)

No. 6 Tennessee at No. 3 New England (-5), 8:15 p.m. ET (24-21)

            

Sunday, Jan. 5

No. 6 Minnesota at No. 3 New Orleans (-7.5), 1:05 p.m. ET (18-30)

No. 5 Seattle (-1.5) at No. 4 Philadelphia, 4:40 p.m. ET (33-28)

  

Odds courtesy of Caesars

             

Buffalo at Houston

For Bills fans, the excitement will be palpable on the brink of their showdown in Houston as they make a rare trip to the postseason after a brilliant campaign.

Buffalo has been one of the surprise outfits of the year, finishing 10-6 overall. Quarterback Josh Allen has been consistent throughout, while the team has excelled with its defensive play, allowing the third-fewest yards-per-game on average this season.

Per Audience Sports, they will be seeking to end a longstanding playoff drought in Houston:

AUDIENCE Sports @AudienceSports

The Bills playoff win drought is wild. https://t.co/MDrZ2AlHHb

The Texans, like the Bills, were able to sit some of their key players in Week 17, meaning the likes of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins will be fresh for the battle at NRG Stadium.

In another boost, J.J. Watt is also active again; PFF summed up how effective the defensive end can be:

PFF @PFF

J.J. Watt leads the Texans with 52 pressures. He hasn't played since Week 8. https://t.co/WGtGibGMY6

Although the Bills will be difficult to beat, they lack the star quality of the Texans on offense. With that in mind, as well as Watt's return and home-field advantage, Houston will advance.

                 

Tennessee at New England

The Patriots will need to find some of their trademark postseason spark on Saturday, when they face the Titans in a rare Wild Card Weekend appearance.

New England's shock loss to Miami Dolphins in Week 17 saw them slip behind the Kansas City Chiefs into the third seed in the AFC, giving them an extra game to negotiate.

Nick Wright of First Things First put the Patriots' recent struggles into some context:

nick wright @getnickwright

Since November 1st, the Miami Dolphins have more wins than the New England Patriots.

Even with that record in mind, getting a win at Gillette Stadium is a huge challenge in the postseason. From what the Titans have shown lately, you suspect there will be little in terms of complacency from them.

A win against a much-changed Houston side ensured Tennessee were in the wild-card shakeup. Ryan Tannehill's introduction into the team transformed the Titans' fortunes this season. Paul Hembekides of Get Up put the quarterback's efforts into context:

Paul Hembekides @PaulHembo

Ryan Tannehill this season 117.5 passer rating (4th all-time) 9.6 yards per attempt (8th all-time) 70.3 Comp pct (11th all-time) A legitimately all-time great season. Out of nowhere.

With Tannehill red-hot, Derrick Henry winning the 2019 rushing title and rookie A.J. Brown blossoming, the Titans are a multifaceted threat on offense.

Needless to say, keeping Tom Brady quiet will be crucial to Tennessee's chances. But the Titans are a more rounded outfit than their opponents and can pull off the surprise of the weekend.

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