NFL: cold and surprises, our predictions for the 1st round of playoffs

You can follow all the weekend’s games on RDS and RDS.ca.

This weekend, after 18 weeks of activities in the NFL, the playoffs begin as the teams have only one goal in mind: Super Bowl LVIII that will be presented on February 11 at the resplendent Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

While the 49ers and the Ravens will closely follow the local battles by virtue of their respective rankings at the top of their conference, the other twelve ranked teams will have to take the field in this part of the campaign with no future in case of a failure.

All six of the weekend’s playoff games will be featured on our airwaves and before kickoff on Saturday afternoon, here’s what’s in store plus my little personal prediction for each of the matchups.

Texans vs. Browns

Cleveland Browns (5) @ Houston Texans (4)
Saturday from 4:30 p.m. – RDS

Who could have predicted at the beginning of the season that the eternal Joe Flacco would be leading a team in the playoffs?

However, it is a reality in Cleveland as we move away from the Deshaun Watson fiasco to maximize the window of opportunity left open by the defense’s excellent performance.

In addition, it is against Watson’s former team, the Texans, that begins the road to the playoffs, while the Browns will visit the NFL’s rookie of the year: the electrifying quarterback. CJ Stroud.

The clash is very interesting as DeMeco Ryans’ men will want to win in front of their fans using the extreme effectiveness of Stroud against the restrictive Browns defense.

Cleveland has won four of its last five games while the last game of the season, against the Bengals, had no impact on the standings. On the other hand, Joe Flacco showed good performances against the poor Jets, the Texans without CJ Stroud and the Chicago Bears. Nothing that really makes you cry with genius in the case of this emergency signing as a reinforcement.

With a healthy team and the enthusiasm of youth, the Texans should be able to contain the Browns’ passing attack and avoid the pitfalls of the defensive front enough to prevail on the scoreboard. Typically, rookies hit a wall in the playoffs, but we can give the surprising Texans at least one win before we pack up.

The prediction: Texans 27, Browns 21

Dolphins vs bosses

Miami Dolphins (6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (3)
Saturday from 8:00 p.m. – RDS

Before analyzing the two formations, we must talk about the weather, which will undoubtedly be the most determining element during this duel.

As of this writing, a cold snap is forecast in the Kansas City area and Arrowhead Stadium could experience a felt temperature of -25 degrees Celsius. We won’t talk about the coldest game in playoff history, cheers to the people of Green Bay, but let’s just say that the Dolphins will be far, far away from the perpetual Florida sun when they visit the Chiefs on Saturday.

It is in this type of weather that Tyreek Hill returns to Kansas City and, this time, he will have to face the strategies of Steve Spagnuolo and his defense.

In some ways, the Chiefs are lucky to host the Dolphins, decimated by injuries and slow compared to the start of the season. On the other hand, the Chiefs’ attack is as unpredictable as it is inexplicable and Patrick Mahomes has never seemed so frustrated during his team’s last games due to the occasional mistake by his receivers.

It’s a shame that a duel so electrifying on paper a few weeks ago runs the risk of turning into a trench war with balls as hard as rocks.

When in doubt, trailing Travis Kelce in a playoff game is still a safe bet… and that’s all without mentioning the Taylor Swift effect. The Dolphins, without their three best defenders to provide pressure, will run out of ammunition against Mahomes’ creativity when it comes time to hand the ball to their star winger.

The prediction: Chiefs 17, Dolphins 14

Bills against Steelmakers

Pittsburgh Steelers (7) @ Buffalo Bills (2)
Sunday from 1pm – RDS

Speaking of injuries, the Steelers’ feat of crossing the finish line with a playoff berth comes with a serious consequence: the loss of TJ Watt.

His brother JJ, on American television, joked that he could wear his brother’s jersey to help the Steelers. But given the impossibility of changing one Watt for another, Pittsburgh will have the difficult task of visiting Buffalo to stop a team that has been operating at full capacity for several weeks.

And here too the weather could dampen the heat of the attacks with the forecast of freezing rain, which does not bode well for Mason Rudolph.

With five consecutive victories to end the season and secure second place in the association, the Bills enter the playoffs with a bang. During this sequence, Josh Allen and his offense laid off the Dolphins, Cowbows, and Chiefs.

This is the best time to put your feet firmly in the stirrups before turning your attention to the Super Bowl.

The prediction: Bills 31, Steelers 17

Cowboys vs. Packers

Green Bay Packers (7) @ Dallas Cowboys (2)
Sunday from 4:30 p.m. – RDS

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys took the Eagles to the top of the division at the end of the season and the reward for that is a tough game against the young Packers.

Coming into Dallas in the first season of a new regime under Jordan Love, Green Bay will have the energy of a team that has nothing concretely to lose. The act of presence alone is a victory during this transitional season after the departure of Aaron Rodgers.

That doesn’t mean we don’t come to Texas with the intention of being party poopers.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, the offense has found its cruising speed and CeeDee Lamb is having the season of his life against Prescott’s passing. Even if the Packers come in with the recklessness of a talented youngster, the Cowboys’ depth should dictate the tone of the game.

On the other hand, many points are expected in Arlington at the end of the week, while Mike McCarthy will reserve his best surprises for the team that arrogantly showed him the exit door a few years ago.

The prediction: Cowboys 35, Packers 28

Lions against rams

Los Angeles Rams (6) @ Detroit Lions (3)
Sunday from 8:00 p.m. – RDS

After a Super Bowl and three seasons in Los Angeles, Matthew Stafford returns to Ford Field in Detroit and we will have the first duel between both teams since the transaction that also sent Jared Goff to the Lions.

Detroit finished the season with a 12-5 record and a stranglehold on its division. An unusual position for the eternal underdogs of the automobile city.

The state of health of winger Sam LaPorta is enough to worry the public favorites, while all offensive weapons will be used against the Rams and the excellent strategist that is Sean McVay.

With four straight wins to end the season, including a victory against the 49ers in San Francisco, the Rams will not be tourists in Detroit and odds among bookkeepers indicate that bettors will see equivalent teams facing each other in this playoff game.

The small details will make a difference and the Rams’ experience will be very valuable.

The prediction: Rams 28, Lions 27

Eagles vs. Bucs

Philadelphia Eagles (5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4)
Mondays from 8:00 p.m. – RDS2

The first playoff weekend ends on Florida’s side, as the surprising Bucs may cause a major upset by putting the final nail in the Eagles’ coffin this season.

Nothing is going well for Philadelphia and the collapse of recent weeks forces the team to exile towards the playoffs after participating in the Super Bowl last season.

Five losses in six games to end the season and the middle finger on Jalen Hurts’ right hand is more damaged than a busy Montreal street after a night of ice. AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are also banged up to start this new part of the season and really, for the Bucs, it’s the best time to take on the Eagles on the field.

It remains to be seen if Baker Mayfield, who is smiling again, will be able to thwart the aggressiveness of Nick Sirianni’s defense.

On paper, the Bucs shouldn’t pose a threat to the Eagles, especially after a timid nine-point performance against the poor Panthers.

The circumstances, however, will be a cause for surprise.

Except I can’t forget the Bucs’ last two weeks. All of the Eagles’ setbacks won’t make me forget the back-to-back 9- and 13-point games against division rivals while we were still fighting for the top of the standings.

Against any other national team this year in the playoffs, the Eagles would have hit a wall. But the Bucs, despite the home field advantage, are perhaps the antidote to the slump of a team we saw win it all a few months ago.

The prediction: Águilas 24, Bucs 14

Good football on our airwaves for all fans and see you next week for the entry of the favorite teams.

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