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Predicting The Outcome Series: Wild Card Round

There’s only one rule: “Don’t get eliminated!” - Schlasser, aka UrinatingTree

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we’re finally here. After eight articles covering every single division, we’ve now reached the postseason. Before I get into the playoff predictions, here is a quick look at the final regular season standings.


  1. Ravens 14-3 (Clinched 1st round bye)
  2. Chiefs 14-3
  3. Bills 12-5
  4. Jaguars 11-6
  5. Bengals 13-4
  6. Jets 12-5
  7. Dolphins 11-6
  8. Browns 10-7
  9. Broncos 10-7
  10. Steelers 8-9
  11. Chargers 8-9
  12. Texans 7-10
  13. Patriots 4-13
  14. Titans 4-13
  15. Colts 3-14
  16. Raiders 2-15


  1. Niners 15-2 (Clinched 1st round bye)
  2. Eagles 13-4
  3. Vikings 12-5
  4. Saints 11-5-1
  5. Cowboys 12-5
  6. Lions 12-5
  7. Seahawks 11-6
  8. Panthers 10-7
  9. Packers 9-7-1
  10. Giants 5-12
  11. Commanders 5-12
  12. Bears 5-12
  13. Rams 3-14
  14. Falcons 3-14
  15. Cardinals 1-16
  16. Buccaneers 1-16

A few observations. First of all, there wasn’t a ton of separation between non-playoff teams in the NFC. I honestly don’t know why that is, but it’s completely unrealistic. I couldn’t imagine three teams in the same conference all going 5-12, a pair of 3-14 teams, and two 1-16 teams! That’s absolute madness.

The AFC has a larger gap between bottom-feeders, but not by much. The Raiders stand alone as the worst team in the conference, followed closely by the Colts. Then there’s a hodgepodge of two 4-13 teams, two 8-9 teams, and two 10-7 teams. In retrospect, I wish I could’ve added more of a distinction between non-playoff teams. It’s a lot easier to do power rankings than it is to predict the outcome of every single game.

Speaking of power rankings, there’s a few teams on here whose record does not match the ranking I gave them back in May. The biggest risers are the 7-10 Texans (ranked 29th), the 10-7 Panthers (ranked 23rd), and the 10-7 Browns (ranked 20th). My immediate takeaway here is that I think highly of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, so that personal bias came into play. Also, I’m still a believer in Kevin Stefanski so my opinion of the Browns is higher than most.

On the flip side, the biggest fallers include the 8-9 Chargers (ranked 11th), the 5-12 Giants (ranked 15th), and the 4-13 Patriots (ranked 18th). I have a bias against Daniel Jones and Mac Jones, and I’m not entirely convinced that they can carry their teams to the playoffs. I think the Giants overachieved last year, and the Patriots offense doesn’t excite me. As for the Chargers, I still don’t believe in their defensive playcalling, even after the changes they made at defensive coordinator. Brandon Staley is still the head coach, after all.

I think my old power rankings will end up being a lot more accurate than the divisional predictions. Oh well, on to Cincinnati.

Wild Card Round

(Bold text indicates winner)


#2 Chiefs vs #7 Dolphins

#3 Bills vs #6 Jets

#4 Jaguars vs #5 Bengals

I have the Chiefs beating the Dolphins in a close game. Although the Dolphins are a very well rounded and well coached team on both sides of the ball, I think Mahomes will pull out his usual magic tricks and do just enough to beat the Dolphins defense.

Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills will choke another playoff game against Aaron Rodgers and an elite New York Jets defense. This may be the thing that sets off Stefon Diggs, who will post some cryptic tweets before saying: “It’s time for a new beginning.”

The other “upset” isn’t really an upset. I expect Joe Burrow to beat Trevor Lawrence handily. The Jags are another team that probably aren’t as good as people make them out to be, even though they’re the favorites to win a weak AFC South.


#2 Eagles vs #7 Seahawks

#3 Vikings vs #6 Lions

#4 Saints vs #5 Cowboys

The Eagles beating the Seahawks is pretty self-explanatory. Philly has an elite o-line and d-line, an elite quarterback, and an elite wide receiver corps, plus Dallas Goedert, a very good tight end who is still not better than T.J. Hockenson, sorry, Joe Spinosa. Seattle is decent, but they’re no match for the Eagles.

I have the Vikings losing at home to the Lions which will put an unceremonious end to the Kirk Cousins era in Minnesota. I’m not afraid of Jared Goff, but I think there’s a real chance that the Lions will have a top 10 defense. That’s what scares me.

Finally, we round out the Wild Card round with Dallas beating Derek Carr and the Saints in New Orleans. The Saints have a slightly above average quarterback and a solid defense, while the Cowboys have a slightly above average quarterback and an elite defense, plus better weapons on offense. I’ll bet on dem boys to win this one.

Next up: Divisional Round