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Wild Card Predictions

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

The Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans have earned first-round byes and are enjoying a weekend off. But for the 12 other teams in the NFL postseason, it’s already win-or-go-home time. We’ve got six Wild Card games on tap from tomorrow through Monday, and you can listen to them all on our sister station, CBS 1500. Here are my predictions for Wild Card weekend. (Just keep in mind, I went 0 for six last week.)

LAS VEGAS @ CINCINNATI: The Bengals are 5.5-point favorites in this one, and for good reason. QB Joe Burrow has been on a tear lately, and Cincinnati already carved up the Silver & Black, 32-13, earlier in the season. But the Raiders have won four straight and have TE Darren Waller back. I love the Raiders, and their improbable run to the playoffs is one of the season’s best stories, but I think the Bengals’ offense is just too much to handle. Pick: BENGALS

NEW ENGLAND @ BUFFALO: Last week the Bills captured their second straight AFC East title, but their reward is a wildcard matchup against a team that may have their number. The Patriots have won nine of their last 10 visits to Buffalo, and their biggest strength – their running game – happens to be the Buffalo defense’s weakness. Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones has been struggling lately, but he just needs to be a good game manager here. I just refuse to count out that Belichick guy. Pick: PATRIOTS

PHILADELPHIA @ TAMPA BAY: Both teams finished the regular season strong, with Philly winning six of their last eight games and the Bucs winning seven. As you might expect, Tampa Bay is the heavy favorite here – 10 points is the current line – and that seems about right. Tom Brady’s MVP-type season won’t be derailed this weekend. Pick: BUCCANEERS

SAN FRANCISCO @ DALLAS: A lot of people thought the Niners would not make the postseason, yet here they are. Give credit to QB Jimmy G, who has battled questions about his future with the franchise all season, for willing his team to this opportunity against the favored Cowboys. This game could be a nip-and-tuck affair if San Francisco’s defense can hold Dak Prescott in check. I’m thinking it won’t. Pick: COWBOYS

PITTSBURGH @ KANSAS CITY: Does Ben Roethlisberger have won more big game in him? Don’t bet against him, especially when he goes up against a shaky Chiefs defense. But Kansas City is the heavy favorite (-13.5) for a reason. Patrick Mahomes and company have won nine of their last 10 games and are my pick to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LVI. Big Ben’s Hall of Fame run with the Steelers ends on Sunday. Pick: CHIEFS

ARIZONA @ L.A. RAMS: This will be the NFC West Division rivals’ third meeting this season, with each team claiming a win on the road. The Rams are 4.5-point favorites, but I think this could be a blowout. The Cards had a good season, but with the additions of OBJ and Von Miller the Rams have built their roster with the goal of winning right now. In other words, it’s Super Bowl or bust. Beating Arizona is step one. Pick: RAMS

2021 Regular Season Record: 58-50 (.537)

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