2019 NFL Wild Card Playoffs Preview

Russell S. Baxter

2019 NFL Wild Card Playoffs Preview

By Julie Voigt and Russell S. Baxter (VIBE)

Special to Pro Football Guru

The chase for the Lombardi Trophy begins this weekend with the first four of the 11 postseason games that will decide the champion of the 2019 NFL season. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots are back looking for a fourth straight appearance in the “Big Game.” So is the team that won the NFL title one year earlier in the Philadelphia Eagles, in the playoffs for a third straight year.

This year’s field also included four other teams that won their divisions a year ago in the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints. The Seattle Seahawks are a wild card team for the second consecutive year. The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings are back for the second time in three years and the Green Bay Packers return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Then there’s the San Francisco 49ers, who finished 13-3 after a four-win campaign in 2018 and are in the playoffs for the first time since ’13. Got all that?

So here is PFG Vibe’s somewhat-unique look at the AFC-NFC Wild Playoffs. Julie Voigt (VI) and Russell S. Baxter (BE) offer their quick analysis on each contest (All times ET).

Saturday, January 4

Buffalo Bills (10-6) at Houston Texans (10-6), 4:35 pm

VI: As the Buffalo Bills look for their first playoff win since 1995, it will not go unseen that Bill O’Brienn’s team welcomes back defensive end J.J. Watt on Saturday. The Texans have not been dominant throughout the season and with wide receiver Will Fuller not expected to play, Houston may have a problem. Buffalo is on the rise and on the verge of something special.

BE: Both of these clubs have sound running games. And the Texans will need Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson to keep their shaky defense off the field, even with Watt slated to return. The Bills have been solid away from home, boasting a 6-2 road record this season.

Tennessee Titans (9-7) at New England Patriots (12-4), 8:15 pm

VI: It has been said that this is the start of the crumbling for the dynasty known as the New England Patriots. Meanwhile, the Titans have snuck in to this wild card round with the help of Ryan Tannehill. With a victory, the Titans face the Baltimore Ravens in the next round. But can the Patriots’ defense bounce back from last week’s home loss to Miami?

BE: So much discussion about the future of Tom Brady and the possible end of a dynasty. The latter point would take some time. More importantly, there’s a game this weekend in Foxborough and the Patriots’ last home playoff loss was in the 2012 AFC title game. The Titans will have to come up with some sort of amazing effort to pull it off, even with 2019 NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry.

Sunday, January 5

Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at New Orleans Saints (13-3), 1:05 pm

VI: In its simplest form, it’s the New Orleans’ defense vs. the Minnesota offense. And for what it’s worth, the Vikings’ last playoff win was two years ago vs. the Saints courtesy of Case Keenum, Stefon Diggs and the Minneapolis miracle.

BE: The Saints may be the league’s most complete team but to dismiss this Vikings’ club would be a huge mistake. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has enjoyed a big year and Mike Zimmer’s club is relying more on its offense these days. And does Minnesota have anyone who can cover Michael Thomas?

Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-7), 4:40 pm

VI: Both of these teams have been dealing with injuries: Seattle with its running backs and Philadelphia at wide receiver. Pete Carroll’s team has played better on the road this season (7-1) opposed to home (4-4) and beat the Eagles earlier this year at Philly.

BE: It’s the one game this weekend where the teams met earlier this year. Back in Week 12 at Philadelphia, the Seahawks claimed a 17-9 win over the mistake-prone Birds. This is a Seattle team that has allowed 398 points this season and enters this contest off two straight losses.

Julie Voigt (@JulieNoted_PFG) and Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) are the co-founders of @pfgVIBE. Julie is also an NFL feature writer for SI Pro Football Guru, while Russell writes for FanSided, NFL Spin Zone and Elite Sports NY.

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