Each week, SB Nation asks us bloggers to answer a question or make a prediction about the week ahead in the NFL. Today, we’ll be looking towards the first round of the NFL playoffs to make some predictions about how Wild Card Week is going to unfold. Just to keep things even, I’ll be foreshadowing how one AFC game and one NFC game will play out. We’ll start of with our Miami Dolphins’ AFC.
Alex Smith reverts back to early season form and lights up the Tennessee Titans.
Through the first eight games of the regular season, Alex Smith was a legitimate MVP candidate. He was torching secondaries left and right, leading the Chiefs to a 6-2 record on the back of a 16-0 TD-INT ratio. Then, all of a sudden, things went awry for the Kansas City offense, as Smith threw for a 8-5 TD-INT ratio and the team went 1-4 over the next five games.
However, through his past two contests, Smith has improved. He’s thrown for a 108.4 passer rating to go along with 735 yards and zero interceptions. I foresee him building on those clean performances to smoke Tennessee’s laking secondary in a blowout win for the Chiefs. In Arrowhead Stadium, I just can’t picture a hot-and-cold Marcus Mariota keeping up with Smith when the latter is playing his best football.
The Atlanta Falcons hold Todd Gurley and the Rams offense to 24 points or fewer.
Atlanta’s defense has been sneaky good over the past few weeks. The Falcons have held league’s second best offense, the division rival New Orleans Saints, to an average just 20 points in two matchups. The Falcons also held the Vikings and Panthers to just 14 and 10 points apiece respectively. When Dan Quinn’s speedy defense is playing disciplined football, they can stymie just about any attack in the league.
The question in this matchup will be whether or not Matt Ryan’s offense can put up points against a sound Rams defense. Ryan hasn’t looked like himself since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departed for San Francisco last offseason, but a veteran quarterback with playoff experience like Ryan knows what it takes to win big games (outside of last year’s Super Bowl meltdown). My bet is on Ryan to outplay his younger counterpart in Jared Goff to reach the divisional round.