PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Who Wins This Weekend?

Here are my predictions on who wins each of the four playoff games over the next two days
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There are three other wildcard playoff games that will take place before the Eagles and Seahawks conclude wildcard weekend on Sunday with a 4:40 p.m. kickoff.

Here is a look at those games with my prediction for each:

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans

Saturday, 4:35 p.m.

The Texans lost a wildcard game at home last year when the Indianapolis Colts stung them 21-7, with Andrew Luck throwing for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Bills quarterback Josh Allen isn’t on Luck’s level, yet, but he’s good enough to spring a surprise.

Allen will be one of three quarterbacks making their playoff debuts this weekend. The others are Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill and the Eagles’ Carson Wentz.

The quarterback matchup with Allen (23 years, 228 days old) and Houston’s Deshaun Watson (24 years, 112 days old) marks the sixth postseason game between two quarterbacks under the age of 25 in the Super Bowl era. The most recent one was 2012 when Washington’s Robert Griffin, III met Seattle’s Russell Wilson in a wildcard game.

It won’t be Allen that has to lead this upset, though. That will be up to the Bills’ defense, which finished the regular season ranked third overall in the NFL. 

Buffalo has a cornerback in Tre’Davious White, who was named first team All-Pro by the Associated Press on Friday, capable of locking down Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, himself a first team All-Pro selection. That matchup alone should be worth watching.

In this day and age, a stout defense alone isn’t enough. It needs help from and offense, and I’m just not sure Allen, at this stage of his career, and company can provide enough.

TEXANS 24, BILLS 17

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots

Saturday, 8:15 p.m.

The Patriots were stunned in the dying seconds in a loss to the Miami Dolphins last week, pushing them out of a bye this weekend.

England sure looks like it could have used a week off. Tom Brady, at last, looks like he finally losing the race to Father Time, and just hasn’t looked himself this season.

The defense is still sturdy and finished as the league’s top-ranked unit. The experience factor is still in coach Bill Belichick’s favor.

Still, this feels like an upset special, especially the way Ryan Tannehill has come in and led the Titans to a 7-3 record in the second half. 

Taking over for Marcus Mariota, Tannehill has thrown 22 touchdowns to seven interceptions and has an NFL-best 117.5 passer rating. He has he most productive running back in the league to complement him in Derrick Henry, who finished as the league’s top rusher with 1,540 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, which tied with Green Bay’s Aaron Jones for tops in the league.

As good as New England’s defense is, this feels like a lot to deal with.

TITANS 31, PATRIOTS 28

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Sunday, 1 p.m.

The Saints have had some crushing losses in the postseason the past couple years, but once again look like a team poised to make a long run, perhaps even to the Super Bowl.

Quarterback Drew Brees is running out of time to win a second title. He will turn 41 on Jan. 15, so this could be his final shot to make it happen.

The pieces are certainly in place in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams.

Receiver Michael Thomas set the NFL record for most catches in a season with 149 and has 1,725 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Running back Alvin Kamara has developed into one of the game’s top all-purpose threats, with 797 yards rushing and five touchdowns with 81 catches for 533 yards and one score.

Defensively, the Saints piled up 51 sacks, third most in the league, with 15.5 coming from Cameron Jordan.

On special teams, rookie Deonte Harris was voted into the Pro Bowl as a return man and was named first team All-Pro has a returner.

The Vikings will need Adam Thielen to play like his old self and for running back Dalvin Cook to be the runner he was earlier in the year. Then there’s quarterback Kirk Cousins, who never seems to play well in big games.

I just can’t see the Vikings keeping this one close.

SAINTS 34, VIKINGS 17

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles

Sunday, 4:40 p.m.

Here is a link to my preview:

https://www.si.com/nfl/eagles/news/eagles-seahawks-breaking-down-sundays-game

And for more on the game go to si.com/nfl/eagles