NFL Playoff Predictions: NFC Wild Card Round

NFC Wild Card
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The NFL regular season is over, which means it’s time for playoff predictions. The postseason officially kicks off on Saturday, and betting sites have already released the opening spreads. Due to there being six games, I have broken this article into two pieces. This section will cover the upcoming slate of NFC games in the Wild Card Round. 

NFC Wild Card Round Predictions and Spreads

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9) vs Philadelphia Eagles

Nobody thought the Philadelphia Eagles would make it this far. After trading away Carson Wentz in the offseason, Jalen Hurts proved to be an actual upgrade, as his playmaking ability combined with an elite offensive line and an opportunistic defense led the Eagles to an unlikely postseason run. 

That said, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a different level. Even though the defense hasn’t played all that well this year, you cannot bet against this offense. Tom Brady is in the thick of the MVP race and, even without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, still has Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. This defense will not be able to slow down this passing attack, and Jalen Hurts probably isn’t ready to keep up in a shootout with the greatest to ever do it. He can, however, keep it close, and that’s all that matters when the spread is this large. 

Prediction: Buccaneers win, don’t cover spread

Dallas Cowboys (-3) vs San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers took a while to find their stride in 2022, but it’s hard to find a team that played better football down the stretch. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a world beater, but he’s capable of leading a high-octane offense when he’s healthy. He started slowly in Week 18 but looked like he knocked off the rust by the end of the game. Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the game, and the trio of George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk are nearly unstoppable when everything is clicking. 

The Cowboys, meanwhile, haven’t looked like their old selves in quite some time. And no, I’m not including Week 18’s blowout victory against a Philadelphia Eagles team that didn’t play their starters. The talent is obviously there, but Dak Prescott and company need to prove that they can still move the ball against a strong defense. 

This game is going to go down to the wire and could easily go either way. However, I believe the 49ers offense is a little more reliable right now, and the defenses are fairly equal. 

Prediction: 49ers win

Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) vs Arizona Cardinals

These two teams have a lot in common. These NFC West foes both started the season on an absolute tear before returning to mortality in the back half of the year. This is an old refrain for both teams, as this trend has happened throughout the duration of Sean McVay and Kliff Kingsbury’s time with their respective teams. 

The Rams, however, have been playing much better football of late. Matthew Stafford’s showing the slightest bit of decline, but he’s still an above-average quarterback in a phenomenal scheme. Kyler Murray, meanwhile, just hasn’t looked the same since coming back from his midseason injury. The Cardinals have dropped four of their last five and weren’t particularly competitive in any of the losses. Unless Arizona figures out something fast, the Rams should win this one comfortably. 

Prediction: Rams win, cover spread

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