2023 NFL Super Wild Card Weekend Preview

The 2023 NFL Playoffs are here!


Credit: Sporting News


The regular season finish came down to a close battle for the final spot in both the AFC and NFC. The Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks managed to secure the 7th and final seed in each conference respectively. The Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles both secured the 1st seeds, giving them a bye this weekend. This article will focus on the matchups and story lines from the first round of the playoffs, or Super Wild Card Weekend. It will also offer predictions for the score and winners of each game. Please feel free to comment your own predictions for each of the games.

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: Sat. Jan 14th. (4:30 PM)

Credit: The Seattle Times

This NFC West matchup has been dominated by the 49ers this season, however in the playoffs anything can happen. Geno Smith, Seahawks QB has been very efficient passing against the 49ers but has been unable to create big yardage plays in order to extend drives. While at the beginning of the season, the 49ers were able to dominate the Seahawks, the week 15 game was a much closer battle. The 49ers dominant defense should hold strong to keep the Seahawks from scoring often.

Matchup Fact: Both of these quarterbacks will make their first ever playoff starts. However, Geno Smith has been in the NFL since before Brock Purdy graduated high school.

Keys to the Game: The Quarterback play from both teams, while cliche, will largely decide the outcome of this one. While neither the names Geno Smith or Brock Purdy jump out as elite passers, they have been extremely dynamic this season earning passer ratings of 100.9 (Smith), and a league-best 107.3 (Purdy).

Prediction: Seahawks: 16, 49ers: 24

Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars: Sat. Jan 14th. (8:15 PM)

Credit: Big Cat Country

The Jaguars have completed the unlikely turnaround of 2 consecutive years with the 1st overall draft pick to AFC South division champions. The Chargers have repeatedly defied the odds this season with injuries all over the team but have been dynamic lately and are regaining some players. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert are both playing like top-10 quarterbacks, arguably both also being within the top-5. These quarterbacks will both have a chance in their first ever playoff games to seriously prove themselves as franchise leaders for the future.

Matchup Fact: Both starting quarterbacks in this game are younger than Georgia’s recent starting quarterback and CFP National Championship MVP, Stetson Bennett. They will both make their first playoff appearances and Bennett will enter the NFL Draft.

Keys to the Game: The Jaguars defense will need to slow down Austin Ekeler in order to keep the game within reach, as they were able to minimize big plays from Derrick Henry in week 18. For the Chargers, Justin Herbert will need a receiver, most likely Keenan Allen to have a productive game as Mike Williams may not play this week due to a back injury.

Prediction: Chargers: 20, Jaguars: 23

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills: Sun. Jan 15th. (1:00 PM)

Credit: Buffalo Bills

Coming in having won 7 games in a row, the Buffalo Bills are as hot of a team in the NFL as anyone else. The Damar Hamlin injury and subsequent recovery has also added a greater bond between members of the Bills roster. The Dolphins are the exact opposite: ice cold. After a difficult year of head-related injuries during Tua Tagoviloa’s breakout season, the Dolphins have very few options on offense. Especially due to a costly ankle injury to Tyreek Hill in week 18, leaving him questionable for this matchup.

Matchup Fact: The Bills are 4-1 all time at home in wild card games while the Dolphins are just 1-3 away in wild card games.

Keys to the Game: The Dolphins will need strong leadership at quarterback from Skylar Thompson, who is in line to make just his 2nd career start ever, coming in this crucial game. Nothing aside from a stellar performance will allow the Dolphins to advance against this extremely unified Buffalo team that shows no immediate weaknesses. Buffalo must be themselves on offense and protect the ball to not allow extra chances for the banged up Dolphins.

Prediction: Dolphins: 16, Bills: 31

New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings: Sun. Jan 15th. (4:30 PM)

Credt: Pro Football Network

The Giants have been led on an unlikely run this season by first year head coach Brian Daboll. He has revived the career of both former first-round picks Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. The Vikings have seen an extended period of peak performance out of Kirk Cousins this season along with Justin Jefferson. The team also has a great ability to win close games as they have won 11 of their 13 games by one score, which could be a key factor to making a deep playoff run.

Matchup Fact: The Vikings have lost 4 of their last 5 wild card games at home. The Giants have lost 3 of their last 4 wild card games on the road.

Keys to the Game: Kenny Golladay must maintain the high level of output we saw in his receiving performance in week 18 (Sorry Giants fans, if any exist at AMHS). On the other side, Justin Jefferson claimed the regular season receiving title this year and needs to extend that 100+ yards per game average for the Vikings to have success.

Prediction: Giants: 17, Vikings: 20

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals: Sun. Jan 15th. (8:15 PM)

Credit: NBC Sports

This AFC North rivalry will be an interesting matchup because these teams just faced off in the same stadium last week, ending very poorly for the Ravens. A late touchdown by Kenyan Drake was the only thing that made the score relatively close. QB injuries severely impacted the Ravens in week 18, causing Anthony Brown, the 3rd string to make the start for the injured backup Tyler Huntley. The Bengals will begin their quest to return to the Super Bowl this season after coming up just short last season to the Rams.

Matchup Fact: The Bengals are hoping to return to the Super Bowl, but teams historically that have lost the Super Bowl the year before have only won the big game 8 times in the following season. The Ravens have failed to make a run past the divisional round since their 2012 Super Bowl victory under Joe Flacco.

Keys to the Game: Without Lamar Jackson available it is likely that Tyler Huntley will be most crucial for the Ravens, with his status to play remaining questionable. He will need help from J.K. Dobbins in the run game in order to give the Ravens any chance. The Bengals defensive front will be key to containing Lamar and stopping the run up front.

Prediction: Ravens: 13, Bengals: 31

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sun. Jan 15th. (8:15 PM)

Credit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The notorious choking of the Cowboys in recent playoff history will need to be overcome in order to avoid yet again, another first round exit. This regular season has been a hopeful sign for the Cowboys with both the 4th highest scoring offense and a defense allowing just the 5th most points per game of any NFL team this season. Having played 47 career playoff games, Tom Brady is a beast not to be messed with due to his career win percentage of 0.745 when chasing a Super Bowl title. While the Bucs have the worst record of any team in this year’s playoffs, Brady can never be counted out on the biggest stage.

Matchup Fact: Tom Brady has never lost a wild card game as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and that streak will be tested. Dak Prescott is 1-3 all time in the playoffs and will need to learn from his last few playoff outings to prove himself a worthy playoff quarterback.

Keys to the Game: Tony Pollard must return to a high volume of production similar to his performances earlier in the season. He can be a factor in both the run and pass game and will need to be in order for the Cowboys to have a good chance. For the Bucs it all comes down the 45 year old Tom Brady. This game will hinge on if we see the vintage GOAT or a shell or his former self.

Prediction: Cowboys: 24, Buccaneers: 27

Final Thoughts:

No doubt we will see some exciting games to start off this year’s NFL Playoffs, however with a plethora of top level teams it is unclear who will make a run at the Super Bowl.