Wild Card Weekend, day two.
One game I’m excited about, another one, not so much.
Here’s what I expect:
Minnesota at New Orleans
I don’t think many people expect Minnesota to win this game. I don’t expect Minnesota to win this game. They could, though.
New Orleans has a talented defence, with good DBs and a strong pass rush. However, they’ve shown that they can susceptible to giving up a lot of points to a good offence. Minnesota has a strong running game, featuring Dalvin Cook, and are flush with good pass-catchers, particularly Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. New Orleans recently lost two of their top pass rushers to injury, so Kirk Cousins will have opportunities to move the ball and score points. But will it be enough.
New Orleans’s potent offence is predicated on getting Michael Thomas the ball, and Thomas has shown that he can get open. The only defence that had any success in limiting Thomas this season was Carolina’s, because of their pass rush. Minnesota does an excellent job of getting pressure on the QB. Drew Brees can check down to Alvin Kamara, or try to get a quick hitter to TE Jared Cook, but being forced into an abundance of those types of plays won’t yield big points. Minnesota’s defence will be at a bit of a disadvantage, as they recently lost two of their top CBs to injury. However, they still have arguably the best Safety tandem in the league in Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris, so that will help significantly.
If Minnesota commits to limiting Michael Thomas’s catches, and are patient and efficient on offence, they can beat New Orleans. I would even go so far as to say that Minnesota SHOULD beat New Orleans. They just won’t. When the stakes are high, Minnesota comes up small.
Winner: New Orleans
Seattle at Philadelphia
This is the game that I’m least looking forward to this weekend, so I’ll be brief.
This will be Carson Wentz’s first playoff action. Philly had playoff success the last two seasons with Nick Foles at QB. You remember Foles; he’s the one they should have kept.
Philly won 4-straight to end the season, winning the NFC East (aka: the division no one wanted). They beat NYG (twice), Washington, and colossally-disappointing Dallas. Philly is a mirage.
Seattle has had a weird season, looking like world-beaters, but throwing out the occasional stinker that makes you scratch your head. They were only 4-4 in their noise-box of a stadium, but 7-1 on the road. Just like every year, their OL stinks.
I expect to see two QBs running for their lives for four quarters. No one does this quite like Russell Wilson. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf will feast on Philly’s garbage secondary.