2015 NFL Wild Card Preview

The 2015 NFL Wild Card round is will begin this weekend and there will be four great contests. All of the “few notes” are from ESPN Stats and Information.

Saturday Games

Arizona vs. Carolina

I would not want to face the Panthers in the post season. This team is smoking hot. They’re riding a four game win streak and the defense is firing on all cylinders. They beat Atlanta 34-3 last week to get into the playoffs. Just because they are 7-8-1 DO NOT take this team lightly. Since Cam Newton’s wreck they have seemed to be invincible.

For the banged up Cards, they must be feeling like they are the most underrated team remaining. Injuries have mounted at nearly every skill position, but they have been able to implement the next man up philosophy. Ryan Lindley is a third string quarterback who will have to lead this team to possibly four victories. Is it possible?

Few Notes

  • Over the last 10 seasons, the Panthers are the 5th team to make the playoffs with a record of .500 or worse…each of the previous 3 teams went on to win in the Wild Card round.
  • Teams that finished .500 or worse in the regular season have won 5 of their last 6 Wild Card games. No team that finished .500 or worse has made it past the Divisional Playoffs, however.
  • From Elias: If Ryan Lindleystarts for the Cardinals, he will be the 7th QB since the 1970 merger to start a playoff game after having 1-or-fewer regular-season wins as a starter. Those QBs are a combined 2-4 and haven’t won since Gifford Nielsen won in 1979 for the Oilers.

Who wins?

I believe that this game will not be close. Bruce Arians has done a phenomenal job at motivating his team and preparing his troops for the next battle. However, Carolina is clicking and it will be tough for Arizona to stay in it.

Score: 27-10


Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh

This is the only divisional contest this weekend and it is fueled by hatred and that alone. The squads split the regular season contests by both winning on their home turf. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 17-14.

Baltimore clinched the final playoff spot by defeating the Browns in there finale 20-10. They have a balanced offense that is being fueled by the strong running of Justin Forsett. He shockingly ran for over 1200 yards.

It’s still no secret that I have had it in for the Steelers all season. The Philadelphia 76ers have been more consistent than the Steelers. Remember this is the same team that lost to both the Bucs and Jets. They have won four games straight so they will be looking to keep their spark lit. The biggest question mark for Pitt is the health of arguably the best running back in the NFL, Le’Veon Bell. He has a right knee injury and he did not practice on Thursday.

Bell said, “I feel really good. I didn’t expect to be feeling this well this early. But I am, so I’m just going to take it day by day and see where it goes.”

Few Notes

  • Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 17-14
  • The Steelers were an NFL-best 6-1 against teams that finished over .500 this season.
  • The Ravens are 6-1 in the Wild Card Playoffs in team history, the best record in the NFL among the 29 teams to play at least 4 Wild Card games.

Who wins?

Well if I have not been that excited the Steelers through the regular season, do you really think I pick them now. Baltimore wins by a field goal.

Score: 23-20


Sunday Games

Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis

I have no idea what to expect in this contest. Both teams have the ability to put up points, but they can also stink up the joint. On paper we can expect a high scoring game, but if it is low scoring I would not be surprised.

The only way Cincinnati can win is if AJ Green plays. He did not practice on Friday due to the NFL concussion protocol. Can Andy Dalton lead this team to victory win it counts? Will the Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard run for at least 150 to take some pressure off of Dalton? There are way too many questions and I have no answers.

I have the same doubts about Indy. They can’t run the ball. The defense is more off pitch than Idina Menzel singing at a New Year’s Eve performance. Click here for the performance.

Few Notes

  • Marvin Lewis has lost his 1st 5 postseason games as head coach. Lewis has won 100 games in the regular season and joins Jim Mora as the only coaches with at least 100 wins and 0 postseason wins in NFL history.
  • The Colts defense allowed just 7 pass TD and a 27.1 Total QBR at home this season, both best in the NFL.
  • The Bengals had 135 yards of offense and went 1-of-13 on 3rd down in the Week 7 shutout loss to the Colts. It was the Bengals worst offensive performance since getting shutout in Week 17 against the Jets in 2009, when the starters didn’t play the full game.
  • Andrew Luck has thrown 8 interceptions in 3 career playoff games. Luck is the 1st QB to throw 8+ interceptions in his 1st 3 playoff games since Dan Fouts (1979-80 seasons).

Who wins?

By default I have to give the win to the Colts.

Score: 27-17


Detroit vs. Dallas

This will be the best matchup over the course of the weekend. This will be a battle of the lines. Can the Cowboys o-line stop the Detroit d-line? The Lions have been the best team against the run this season only allowing 69 yards per outing.

Matthew Stafford will have to have a perfect game if he wants to beat the ‘Boys. I’m sure Joique Bell and Reggie Bush will some pressure off of Stafford, but he cannot have another playoff letdown.

Dallas very well may be the best team in the league. They can pass, run, and defend. Murray and Romo have both made claims for the MVP award. They finished 6-1 to polish a very good regular season.

Few Notes

  • If history tells us anything, the Cowboys should go ahead and pack their bags for Green Bay. Matthew Staffordis 0-16 in road games against teams that finished the season with a winning record, the 3rd-most losses without a win in such games for any quarterback since the 1970 merger.
  • The Lions allowed an NFL-low 3.3 yards per rush on first down during the regular season. Only three teams have allowed fewer yards per rush on first down in a season in the last five years.
  • With Nick Fairleyreturning to practice, the Lions run defense could get another boost after Ndamukong Suh’s suspension was overturned earlier in the week. The Lions allowed 2.48 yards per rush against 86 carries with that duo on the field together this season. Those numbers dropped off significantly when 1, or both were out of the game.

Who wins?

How ‘bout the Cowboys????

Score: 31- 20

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