Matthieu Proulx Column – NFL Playoffs: Thoughts and Predictions | RDS

After a marathon of 271 regular season games, it was time for the playoffs. As we approach six games into the weekend, here are some thoughts on each of the matchups.

Seattle Seahawks (9-8) vs. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
Saturday 4:30 p.m. | RDS, RDS.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

This is one of the three section matches of this first round. Therefore, there will be a lot of familiarity between the opponents of the weekend. We start with the 49ers who are the team of the hour in the National having won their last 10 games of the regular season. Led by an elite defense, the Niners have handcuffed most of the offense they’ve faced in 2022. In fact, the Seahawks have just 20 points in two games against San Francisco. Quarterback Geno Smith, who has surprised many this year with solid play, will have his hands full against Nick Bosa and his colleagues on the defensive front. On the other hand, the Seahawks defense has struggled to neutralize the run all season and will face the devastating running attack of Christian McCaffrey and the 49ers.

Prediction: 49ers win 28-10

Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
Saturday 20:15 | RDS, RDS.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

The Jaguars’ season finale is a great story. The rise of Trevor Lawrence, the transformation wrought by Doug Pederson and a dynamic young defense are all great reasons to be encouraged for things to come in Jacksonville. However, the Chargers have quietly had a good end to the season to come into this matchup as favorites. Los Angeles likes to throw the ball and does it very efficiently (269 yards/game, 3rd in the NFL). The Jaguars defense was vulnerable at this stage of the game (238.5 yards/game, 28th NFL) and could have a hard time limiting Justin Herbert’s explosive plays. Yes, the Jaguars won it 38-10 against the Chargers in Week 3, but those teams have changed a lot since then and I believe that in this matchup of promising young quarterbacks, Herbert will have the upper hand over Trevor Lawrence.

Prediction: Chargers win 31-24

Miami Dolphins (9-8) vs. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
Sunday 1:00 p.m. | RDS, RDS.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Dolphins pull off an upset against the Bills in Buffalo. The home team is led by one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Josh Allen, who has given us some of his best football play in playoff games in recent seasons. Allen is the ultimate double threat with his arms and legs and won’t hesitate for a second to carry the team on his shoulders. In the most recent meeting between the two teams in Week 15, Allen passed for 304 yards, four touchdowns with no interceptions and rushed 10 times for 77 yards. I expect the same kind of performance and possibly even better. On the defensive side, the Bills finished first in yards allowed per game (300.4), which doesn’t bode well for the Dolphins, who will be without Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Skylar Thompson, a seventh-round pick in the last draft, will be the starter. He is not ready for a game of this magnitude and will need a sustained and productive running game to hope to be in the game. If I know that sitting in my office, imagine defensive coordinator Leslie Frasier challenging Miami to produce offensively through the passing game.

Prediction: Bills win 34-13

New York Giants (9-7-1) vs. Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
Sunday 4:30 p.m. | RDS2, RDS.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

The Giants are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The team has a new identity and renewed confidence with the arrival of head coach Brian Daboll. On the Vikings, the number of wins doesn’t seem to reflect the quality of the team on the field. Admittedly, a total of 13 wins, but a negative point differential (-3) is a strong argument for his detractors. Still, the Vikings always found a way to score wins, and in the end, that’s really all that matters in professional sports. On offense, Justin Jefferson has had a breakout season and will continue to wreak havoc for as long as the Vikings are alive. On December 24, the two teams crossed swords as Jefferson caught 13 passes for gains of 133 yards and a touchdown. Tight end TJ Hockenson was also solid with 13 receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. It is hard for me to imagine that we are able to solve this dynamic duo that must be added to Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn and Dalvin Cook. It’s been a great year for the Giants, but I fear the New York team will be knocked out in the first round.

Prediction: Vikings win 27-20

Baltimore Ravens (10-7) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
Sunday 20:15 | RDS, RDS.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

As of this writing, Lamar Jackson doesn’t appear to be on track for Sunday’s game. Lamar alone makes up the Ravens’ offense. In the six games without their No. 1 quarterback, Baltimore has only put up 12.5 points per game compared to 25 points per game in the 11 games with Jackson in charge! The Ravens may have superior defense, but it won’t be enough against the Bengals. Cincinnati has one of the best balanced teams in the league and is playing its best football since losing to the Browns on Oct. 31. In addition, the Bengals have not lost since then, accumulating eight consecutive victories. Joe Burrow is on a mission to avenge his loss in the Super Bowl last year, and a team led by a backup quarterback isn’t going to stand in his way.

Prediction: Bengals win 34-17

Dallas Cowboys (12-5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
Monday 20:15 | RDS, rds.ca

BEFORE THE MATCH

This last game is for me the biggest mystery of the weekend. On the one hand, the Cowboys who have us used to collapsing in important games. Considered as america teamJerry Jones’s team has won just four playoff games since winning the Super Bowl in 1995 and hasn’t reached the Conference Finals since! So it’s hard to believe when you fail year after year. On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, section champions for the second year in a row and winners of the Lombardi Trophy in February 2021. Although they are led by the greatest player of all time, Tom Brady, the team has not been a shadow of himself and has greatly disappointed throughout the regular schedule. Who will emerge victorious? I have no idea. I could go into more depth, but I’ll just say that the team that wins the turnover battle and completes their streaks in the pay zone will advance to the next round. I think the Cowboys have a better team and could do it, but I still have trouble betting against Brady in the playoffs.

Prediction: Cowboys win 21-20

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