The NFL Playoffs kick off on Sunday morning with the Wildcard Round. Four huge games that are going to shape the final series. Here’s the Palmerbet Sports Team’s Tips and Preview of each match up.
History: Played 34: Colts 26 V Texans 8
Last meeting: December 10, 2018: Colts 24 d Texans 21 at NRG Stadium, Houston
Final Thoughts: The 10-6 Colts travel the 1000 miles to Houston on a four game win streak and ready to reproduce their Round 14 win over the Texans at NRG Stadium. Meanwhile the Texans enter the contest in mixed form, with an easy win over the tanking Jaguars following a final play lose to reigning champs, Philadelphia.
The Texans’ power combo of quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiving superstar, DeAndre Hopkins have been having one hell of a season. Watson has thrown for . Hopkins has scored 11 Touchdowns and over 1500 yards. Interestingly in the Texans Round 4 game against the Colts, Watkins ran for 169 yards and 1 touchdown, but was completely shut down in the Round 14 lose with just 36 yards and a TD. Perhaps the most amazing thing from QB DeShaun is the amount of punishment he’s taken. He’s been sacked 62 times. 62 times!! Three and a half times more than the Colts, Andrew Luck. Wow!
The Texans own a well rounded game. They have a great balance between passing and rushing (236 passing yards v 126 rushing yards). Their average of 25.1 points per game, ranks them 11th in the NFL, whilst the Colts average 2 points higher and rank 5th. Those stats offset as the Colts defence allows almost 2 points more per game. After such close games throughout the year, this one is insanely hard to call.
The Colts have eased into the post season with friendly match ups against the Titans, Giants and Cowboys. They almost fluffed their playoff chances against the woeful Giants until a last minute TD rescued their season. Line Backer Darius Leonard is the number one defensive player in the league with 163 tackles this year. Amazing for a first year player. He’s also joined the DeShaun Watson sack party in every game he’s played against the Texans. Can he make it three from three?
Andrew Luck tore apart the Houston lineup in the Round 14 match up. He threw for 399 yards at 2 TD’s. In the Round 4 match up, he threw for 464 and 4 TD’s. In such a close game, we expect the Colts to throw the ball more than rush, pushing up Luck’s thrown yardage.
History: Played 19: Seahawks 9 V Cowboys 10
Last meeting: September 23, 2018: Seahawks 24 d Cowboys 13 at CenturyLink Field, Seattle.
Final Thoughts: The 10-6 Dallas Cowboys took the NFC East division over last years Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles in the last round of the season. The Seahawks two touchdowns, and rushing for 49 yards and two TDs.
The Cowboys are the Dak And Zeke Show. Star running back, Ezekiel Elliot has led the NFL in average rushing yards per game for the last three seasons. He’s the Cowboys weapon. In 2018, he’s been given the ball over 300 times and has run for over 1400 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s had 73 first downs, also more than any other RB. His susceptibility to the fumble is high though, with a fumble every second game. Expect the Seahawks big men to get hard and heavy at Zeke’s hands and arms.
For all of the feats Zeke has achieved, the Seahawks are the number one ranked side in the NFL for rushing yards. Averaging 160 yards per game, they run the ball 20% more than the Cowboys. In their Week 3 match up, the Cowboys defended 39 rush plays, allowing just 2.9 yards average gain. It meant that the Seahawks switched to a passing game, which cut up the Cowboys. The Hawks forward movement was the most impressive, only losing 10 yards in play for the game.
The Seahawks QB, Russel Wilson is an out and out star. Not for his stats, but his ability to read the game and drive the Hawks to victories. Currently ranked 18th amongst his QB brethren in terms of pass yardage, when he does throw it, his pass rating is 3rd in the league. If his blocking team could do something about the opposition sacking him 51 times this season, his numbers would be even higher.
The Cowboys have the home advantage, the Hawks have Wilson. Both sides don’t protect their QBs particularly well so it will be a great one to watch, but too close to put our money on for the head to head. Ezekiel Elliott has everything riding on his shoulders to get the Cowboys home. If the Cowboys are to win, he’ll need to rush for over 100 yards. He averages 126 yards against Seattle.
History: Played 12: Chargers 5 V Ravens 7
Last meeting: December 22, 2018: Ravens 22 d Chargers 10 at ROKiT Field, Carson
Final Thoughts: Just two weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens made a real mess of the Chargers on the LA team’s home deck. The Chargers couldn’t have played much worse if they tried. 3 Interceptions, 4 Sacks of QB Jared Rivers and only 198 yards gained for the day.
The Ravens defence was a wall in the clash against the Chargers. Allowing just 3.6 yards a pass and a miserly 51 rushing yards for the game, they choked the Chargers out completely. The offence has been handed over to Rookie QB Lamar Jackson and he’s not setting the world on fire. A completion rate of 58%, 6 TD’s from 7 full games isn’t huge, but no interceptions in his last 5 and almost 700 yards rushing certainly is.
The Chargers season has been super impressive, finishing equal first in the American Conference. With 12 wins and 4 losses, the Chargers offence has been on fire. Only once this year have the Chargers scored less than 20. QB Phillip Rivers has the third largest average yards gained per pass completion. For all the hype around Patrick Mahones, Rivers has put up similar yardage.
We’ve got doubts on the Raven’s move away from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson at QB in such a pressure game. The Chargers are a hard enough team to beat at the best of time, but their 7 -1 win run on the road gives us confidence.
History: Played 115: Vikings 60 V Bears 53 (2 Ties)
Last meeting: November 11, 2018: Bears 25 d Vikings 20 at Soldier Field
Final Thoughts: The 12-4 Chicago Bears wrapped up the NFC North with a game to go and eased to a 14 point match up in the Week 17 match up against the Vikings. The Bears put together a 9 and 1 run to finish the season, which was just an overtime loss from being 10 on the hop.
The Eagles meanwhile are VERY lucky to even be in the playoffs. Heading into Thanksgiving sitting at 4 and 6, the season looked almost over. Gutsy wins against the Rams and the Texans, then a thumping of the Redskins in the final round got them into the Wildcard round and who knows from here!
There are still plenty of questions around Bears QB, Mitch Trubisky. Ranked 20th for passing yards of all QB’s, his average of 230 per game is not up to scratch. Bears Running Back, Jordan Howard, is a proven performer with almost 1000 years rushing this year. The Eagles best running back, Josh Adams, averages half that.
The Eagles quarterback pairing of Wentz and Foles rank them in the top 6 for passing. Foles will once again take the lead with Wentz ruled out with injury. As back up QB, Foles’ numbers are actually stronger than the first stringer, with a higher completion rate and average yards per game.
The Bears have a better all round mix of passing and rushing, but Nick Foles is the reigning Super Bowl MVP. We saw what he can do then, he’s likely to perform well above expectation again.