Both quarterbacks will be able to rest this winter with a feeling of accomplishment. With the Browns, Joe Flacco came out of retirement to show young people that it was still possible to be effective at 38 years old. Among the Texans, C. J. Stroud proved that he was truly the best quarterback of the latest crop of the draft. We need to focus more on the defensive aspect to try to determine which team will advance to the next round. In attack, both teams will be able to compete. But on defense, the Browns have been flawless this season. The Texans’ rookie quarterback could be stunned quickly. Led by the always dominant and unflappable Myles Garrett, the Browns defense has allowed the fewest total yards and air yards this season. To beat the Browns, the Texans will have to be perfect. Houston is the team with the fewest turnovers, while the Browns are at the opposite end of the spectrum. However, due to numerous injuries, such as Tank Dell, resources could be lacking in the Texans camp.
Prediction: Browns 21, Texans 17
Kansas City is forecast to feel between -15 and -20 degrees Celsius. In principle, this factor could have very little influence. On the other hand, this duel involves the Dolphins, which changes the situation considerably. Miami plays in one of the hottest climates in the league and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has never played in this kind of context, between his childhood in Hawaii, his studies in Alabama and his professional debut in Miami. Patrick Mahomes, too, could be somewhat disoriented, as the ball is expected to travel very little. The Chiefs are, however, the team that has attempted the most aerial plays this season. However, Miami also throws a lot. No team had more passing yards per game in 2023. It will be up to the defense. And although there has been very little mention of it in recent months, the Chiefs’ defense has excelled. She ranked second in the league in the number of points allowed per game and the number of yards allowed per game. Then again, who really wants to bet against Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid? Especially knowing that Miami has a habit of crashing against good teams.
Prediction: Chiefs 24, Dolphins 18
The Steelers’ only hope of staying alive rested on the shoulders of T. J. Watt. True captain of this defensive unit, the most productive quarterback hunter in the NFL will have to be absent due to a knee injury. The future of the Steelers is now in the hands of quarterback Mason Rudolph. Bad news, therefore, for the supporters of Pittsburgh. This scenario is probably the best possible one for the Bills. They made us doubt, they gave us cold sweats, but they are still there, standing, confident and unapologetic, at the top of their division for another season. Josh Allen was sensational late in the season with five passing and six rushing touchdowns in the final five games. He makes mistakes and he is reckless, but we will have to start learning to live with that. The Bills are uncompromising in key moments, whether on first or third down. The Bills have played in the shadows this season and it has benefited them. With Stefon Diggs, Khalil Shakir, Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox, as well as James Cook and Leonard Fournette on the floor, the Bills won’t be too worried at the start of the playoffs.
Prediction: Bills 32, Steelers 17
Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb have become the new Ding and Dong: you never know what to expect, but it always turns out something nice. Lamb has scored 12 passing touchdowns, including 4 in his last 3 games. His quarterback has been stellar this season, throwing for an NFL-leading 36 touchdown passes. Who came in second in this category? Jordan Love, with 32 hits. The Packers’ center doesn’t get enough credit. In a team in a sort of reconstruction, without a leading receiver and in a particularly unstable context for two years, he has worked small miracles. Even if he has everything to succeed, including an extremely competent head coach in Matt LaFleur, the task will be too big. The Cowboys have too many good players to lose. Their defense, led by Micah Parsons and DaRond Bland, has been highlighted many times, but their offense has been overachieving this season. Their new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has arrived as a breath of fresh air. No team has scored more points than Dallas. The Cowboys will need to stay disciplined, but with an 8-0 record at home, Dallas shouldn’t worry.
Prediction: Cowboys 34, Packers 27
The Lions have everything they need to succeed. An explosive offense, tons of targets for Jared Goff, a hard-to-block ground game in the pay zone, a versatile, consistent and scary defense and an emotional and involved head coach. But their opponents also have all of these elements, with a little extra in each aspect. This match will be the best of the weekend, but it will allow us to see that the Lions are still missing a little. This duel will be emotional for several reasons, the main one being that these two teams have exchanged their quarterbacks in 2021. Motivated, Matthew Stafford will play a playoff game in Detroit, something he has never done in 12 seasons with the Lions. The quarterback will also be wonderfully supported by recruits Kyren Williams and Puka Nacua. They were smoking hot at the end of the campaign. Obviously, Cooper Kupp is still a big part of this offense. On defense, Aaron Donald remains a factor. If Sam LaPorta is absent, the California defense will be able to focus more on Amon-Ra St-Brown. Sean McVay does not intend to slow down and with seven victories in their last eight games, the Rams enter the playoffs without any inferiority complex.
Prediction: Rams 33, Lions 30
The end of the Eagles’ season had all the appearances of bad summer theater. They have lost five times in their last six matches. Their schedule was complex, of course, but it was precisely the opportunity to send a message to the best teams. By losing to the 49ers, the Cowboys, the Seahawks and even the Cardinals and the Giants, the Eagles lost their division and had to play their first game on the road. We felt a lot of panic in Nick Sirianni’s training. And even if the story of Baker Mayfield and his arrival in Tampa Bay is fabulous, even if Mike Evans still got 1,000 passing yards and even if the Bucs defense is still threatening… the Eagles will win this game. It’s difficult to predict anything given the Eagles’ terrible end to the season, but with Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, D’Andre Swift and Jason Kelce on offense, the finalists of the last Super Bowl will impose a performance and pace that the Buccaneers will be incapable of imitating, despite all their good will.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Buccaneers 24