2021 NFL Expert Picks: Wild Card Round

2021 NFL Expert Picks: Wild Card Round

by January 14, 2022 0 comments

Two NFL experts from the Prime Time Sports Talk staff came together to share their picks for the Wild Card round of the 2021 playoffs.

These two writers will make their picks for the entire season. (Failure to accurately predict a tie will be treated as a loss.) A record will be listed at the bottom of every article. An archive of all 18 regular-season and four playoff editions can be found here.

Sam Schneider and Andersen Pickard contributed to this article.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Sam: Bengals 27, Raiders 22

In three total games against the Raiders in his career, Bengals running back Joe Mixon has totaled 356 yards and five touchdowns. With temperatures in the 20s on Sunday, expect him to get the rock early and often. That should set up the play action game, where Joe Burrow is sure to eclipse the 148 yards he had in the win over Las Vegas in November. The Bengals control the game, and a late Raiders touchdown makes no difference when the two-point conversion fails. The Bengals win their first playoff game in three decades.

Andersen: Bengals 31, Raiders 27

As much as I want to see the Raiders make a deep playoff push, it’s hard to envision them defeating the Bengals. Cincinnati finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and it might just be impossible to slow their offense down. The Bengals will punch their ticket to the next round.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

Sam: Bills 23, Patriots 10

The Patriots are one of the best against the pass this season, ranking second in pass yardage allowed and fourth in passing touchdowns allowed. Know who is first in each of those categories? Yeah, it’s Buffalo. Each team is bad against the run, but Buffalo has an extra set of legs attached to their signal caller, and Josh Allen is gonna scramble like crazy until he sees a passing opening. Mac Jones does not stand a chance against the Bills’ defense in Buffalo.

Andersen: Patriots 20, Bills 17

Can the Patriots make a big run at the Super Bowl? As much as everyone wants a Mac vs. Tom rematch, the answer is no. With that said, they should edge out Buffalo this week. If the Patriots’ defense is healthy, it will win a challenging battle against an equally dominant Bills offense. On the other side, rookie Mac Jones will do just enough.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sam: Buccaneers 26, Eagles 17

Tampa Bay are not world-beaters on defense by any stretch, but their third place ranking in rush yards allowed takes away what Philadelphia leans on for wins. Expect a lot of zone from the Buccaneers in the passing game, playing bend-don’t-break defense while shutting down anyone out of the backfield. Hurts will stuff the stat sheet, but eventually the frustration of playing from behind will catch up with him and result in a couple turnovers. The Eagles are still too young and still a few pieces away from beating the defending champs. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are the best in the business at flipping the switch in the playoffs.

Andersen: Eagles 27, Buccaneers 23

Another one-score upset? Yes, please! The Buccaneers are a good team, but they’re missing too many core pieces, including offensive weapons Chris Godwin and now-free agent Antonio Brown. It’s possible that Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones miss the contest, too. On the other side of the field, the Eagles’ defense will stand up, picking off Tom Brady twice, while Philadelphia’s dominant running game puts them ahead in the scoring column.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Sam: 49ers 27, Cowboys 24

If you’ve caught yourself saying “The Cowboys actually have a good defense!” or “The 49ers defense isn’t as good as it looks!” this season, you’re about to have a bad time on Sunday. Dallas is smack in the middle of the pack against the run and are borderline bottom-third of the league against the pass. Kyle Shanahan is one of the most underrated coaches in football, and you better believe his defense (top-seven in both categories) is going to be ready after an emotional win against the Rams. Dallas hangs their hat on wins over the Chargers and Eagles (both 9-8) and the 10-7 Patriots, but would prefer not to discuss the four losses to other teams who are all in the playoffs. Smoke and mirrors.

Andersen: Cowboys 28, 49ers 17

The 49ers are capable of big plays with weapons like Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. However, Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a star quarterback, and he’s going to get harassed by the likes of Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Trevon Diggs. Dallas by two scores.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Sam: Chiefs 36, Steelers 16

You know what’s funny? If the Raiders and Chargers had tied in Week 18, eliminating Pittsburgh from the postseason, Ben Roethlisberger could have gone out with a win. Instead, his last NFL memories as a player on the sideline will be watching Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs go up and down the field repeatedly. What a way to go. But hey, Large Ben will earn over $10 million sitting on the couch eating chips next season. Good for him. There is something to be said for quarterbacks that know when it’s time to hang it up. Sadly for Yinzers, Roethlisberger is not one of those guys. He missed the mark by years, not months.

Andersen: Chiefs 35, Steelers 21

Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t think the Steelers will win. He’s right. Pittsburgh will scrape together three touchdowns, but they’ll still fall to the almighty Chiefs by two scores. Expect a big game from Darrel Williams this week.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sam: Cardinals 27, Rams 24

I want to pick the Rams in this game. They’ve just proven far to inconsistent since a blistering 7-1 start to the season (the one loss was to Arizona, 37-20 in Week 4). Later, they dropped three straight games to eventual playoff teams, none of which were particularly close. Then they rattled off five straight, with Arizona the only decent competition in that stretch. Which Rams team do we get? Arizona has dropped some questionable games, but going 2-1 with Colt McCoy under center tells me the team knows how to win. It’s a team game, and Arizona is a team with a quarterback who ranks second in the league in passer rating when blitzed. Rams journey ends at Sofi stadium like they wanted… but a few games too early for their liking. Expect a lot of red in those stands.

Andersen: Cardinals 27, Rams 17

This should be a solid game. Both teams suffered upset losses against Week 18 divisional opponents but still had no trouble making the playoffs. In the end, it will come down to Matthew Stafford. If he can limit turnovers, the Rams will win. If not, it’ll be advantage Arizona. Don’t count on the veteran quarterback this Monday.

Records

Sam: 150-106 (58.6%)
Joe: 101-79 (56.1%)
Andersen: 167-105 (61.4%)


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Sam Schneider on Twitter @BuyAndSellYou
Andersen Pickard on Twitter @AndersenPickard

Main Image Credit: 

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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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