AFC 2020 Wildcard preview

The regular season is in the rear view mirror and we now hurtle towards a new expanded playoffs in a year where everything seems to have changed! We briefly reviewed the playoffs in this weeks podcast but here’s a bit more of the same!

Colts (7) @ Bills (2)

The Bills are coming into the playoffs in a rich vein of form topped off by an absolute demolition of the Dolphins in week 17. Josh Allen started the year as an MVP candidate had ended the year in similar fashion – though with a bumpy patch in the middle which will likely rule him out of the award. He and his team are playing lights out football.

The Colts meanwhile have been fairly consistent through 2020, but not to the same heights that the Bills reached. The defence made a huge jump in 2020 and better quarterback play (despite how you might feel about Phillip Rivers) and an improving run game in the latter half of the season lifted them into the playoffs.

But I’m still suspicious of the Colts – Mike Glennon went through a short period of picking them apart and he and the Jags wide receivers are no where near as good as the Bills. And Rivers is, well, he’s Rivers. It’s almost a guarantee that he’ll throw a pick in this game – probably at the worst point of time imaginable. For that reason I’m giving this to the Bills by 10.

Ravens (5) @ Titans (4)

A grudge match for the Ravens who lost to the Titans in last years divisional round as well as earlier this year in the regular season. Like the Bills, the Ravens are on a hot streak at the moment – mainly in the run game where they’re more than capable of breaking rushing records each week it seems.

The Titans of course have their own running magnifico in Derrick Henry who of course rushed for 2,000 yards during the season. Couple him with the style of receiver that the Titans have in AJ Brown and you really do have a power match up between the two sides.

The biggest difference between the teams will be the defenses – the Ravens have one, the Titans really don’t. This could be a high scoring game and it could come down to whoever has the ball last in the game. I think the Ravens edge this one, but only by 3

Browns (6) @ Steelers (3)

A rematch of the week 17 game that saw the Browns clinch their playoff place with the win. This time however, the Steelers won’t be resting their top players. Many people commented that the Steelers missed the chance to knock a divisional rival out of the playoffs but given the season that they’ve had and the lack of a real bye week, I think it was a sensible decision to rest the likes of TJ Watt and Ben Roethlisberger.

The Browns will be hoping to get many of their defensive backfield back for this game, they’ll need it to compete with the bevvy of wide receivers that Pittsburgh has. The big question mark though is whether head coach, Kevin Stefanski will be on the sideline. The first year coach tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week and without a negative test beforehand, he could be forced to miss out on being there.

The full strength Steelers will pose a lot more problems for the Browns. For a start, they won’t have Mason Rudolph under centre. Even with him, the Steelers came close to what would have been an upset result. With Ben in charge, I would think that the Steelers will have more than enough to win this, probably by 10.

“File:Ben Roethlisberger – snap.jpg” by SteelCityHobbies is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

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