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2015 NFL Wild Card Predictions

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers beat Baltimore in week 9 on Sunday Night Football. Now both teams will play on NBC again with much higher stakes on the line.

Arizona Cardinals 11-5-0
Carolina Panthers 7-8-1

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

Even with a third string QB the Cardinals are playing better football than the Panthers. I don’t think that’ll change at all going into the wildcard round of playoffs.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Panthers over Ryan Lindley and the Cards.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Arizona Cardinals will win Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are both heathy at 100 percent in the first time in forever.

Every offensive lineman except right guard Jonathan Cooper started all 16 games on the offensive line. This offensive line has durability yet lacks consistency in pass protection. One asset is left tackle Jared Veldheer.

Arizona has a pass defense that can get the job done. Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie both know how to play man coverage. In order for this defense to succeed former Texas Longhorns Sam Acho and Alex Okafor have to get pressure on Cam Newton.

Why the Carolina Panthers will win Arizona is starting Ryan Lindley. The run defense has also declined from 3rd to 13th. Jonathan Stewart is back at full health in the backfield with center Ryan Kalil opening up the lanes for him. Kalil started all 16 games and is the best pass blocker on this offensive line as well.

It is critical for Kelvin Benjamin to have a big game. Cam Newton needs to use his two tight end set with Greg Olsen and Ed Dickson to stretch the field by being a pocket quarterback before taking off with his feet.

2013 defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawaan Short are finally playing like the highly touted 2013 NFL Draft prospects we made them out to be. It took some time, but the Panthers may have the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFC outside of the Detroit Lions who have the top run defense in the NFL. Middle linebacker Luke Kuechly led the league in tackles once again.

Prediction: The Panthers enter as a 6.5 point favorite. There is a total of $10,000 dollars being wagered on this game with a total of 55% of the public betting on Carolina. The average gambler is betting minimum of $250 dollars on Carolina.

Final Score Panthers 20 Cardinals 10

Baltimore Ravens 10-6-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

The Steelers have looked stellar the last couple of weeks of the regular season. It’ll be a close game but the Steelers will come away with the win.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Toughest one is Ravens VS Steelers. This can go either way. With Ngata back, I am leaning Ravens but who knows.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Baltimore Ravens will win Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs combine for 29 sacks as Dumervil finished the year with 17 sacks as Suggs had 12 sacks. C.J. Mosley had 133 total tackles at middle linebacker and Daryl Smith had 128 total tackles a middle linebacker as well.

Baltimore benched strong safety Matt Elam for Will Hill who is a free safety. The Ravens are also getting Haloti Ngata back.

If Joe Flacco can play turnover free football by moving the chains by connecting with Steve and Torrey Smith then the Ravens will win. Justin Forsett running the football with time of possession is also crucial. Flacco can pick apart this secondary and center Jeremy Zuttah can open up some running lanes at center while protecting Flacco.

Pittsburgh has one of the worst pass blocking units in the NFL. The fact that Leveon Bell may be out only makes matters worse.

Why the Pittsburgh Steelers will win Antonio Brown should pick apart this measly secondary. Ben Roethlisberger had a career year and these remarkable positional coaches saved Todd Haley's ass.

Prediction: Back in the preseason I had both of these teams facing in the 6 VS 3 match up. You can go to our Baltimore Ravens Season Preview or our Pittsburgh Steelers Season Preview to confirm this. You guys know I am going to stick with the Steelers.

The Steelers are a 3 point favorite with the public betting $12,000 total on his game. With over 70 percent of the public betting on Pittsburgh this may be a game that Vegas looks at just to get more coin. I think Pittsburgh wins but Baltimore covers the spread.

Final Score Steelers 28 Ravens 27

Cincinnati Bengals 10-5-1
Indianapolis Colts 11-5-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

With the exception of the one game against the Broncos this year the Bengals cannot perform in primetime games. I don’t think they had some sort of revelation against Denver they just got lucky and Peyton Manning wasn’t quite Peyton Manning. They won’t do it again.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Marvin Lewis is 0-5 in the playoffs as Head Coach of the Bengals.

Marvin Lewis is 8-16 in National TV Games. Since Palmer left, he is even worse.

Andy Dalton in playoff games: 56.2 passer rating, 0-3 record.

It is really fascinating how good the Bengals are in traditional Sunday Games and how much worse they are in any other situation. Bengals fans wonder what is going on. Is it coaching? Is it players choking? Whatever it is, it has been going on far too long for it to be a fluke. Unlike the past three seasons we have made the playoffs, this year we are obvious underdogs. In week 7 this season, the Bengals had their worst loss of the season losing 27-0 in a shutout. In the game the Bengals fist eight drives did not yield a single first down.

However, on Sunday Night Football, there was a heated debate in which Woodson made the claim that he would rather lose to face the Colts than play the Ravens this upcoming week. The Colts have not looked very good the last few weeks at all, agreed, but the Bengals loss in week 7 looms large.

A.J. Green, the Bengals best player, is still hurt and was hit in the head following a fumble Sunday Night. His status is still up in the air.

Since the Game in week 7, the Bengals have leaned heavily on Jeremy Hill who has took the league by storm. The Colts rush defense is weak so there is large opportunities to open up some running lanes and get some yardage that way. With Green banged up, Hue Jackson is going to have to be far more creative on offense because starting the game anywhere near the way they did in week 7 will let Andrew Luck go up on us early and there is no way they will look back. To avoid going in the whole early, the Bengals will need a healthy Green and to play the possession game with both young RBs.

The Colts have seen some quality play from a player the Bengals drafted in Boom Herron who has outplayed Trent Richardson all season. He will get the bulk of the carries Saturday. But make no mistake, the Colts’ offense thrives and runs on Andrew Luck – the top fantasy QB in football this year. The Bengals will need their defensive backs in full force. Terrence Newman will need to be in the lineup and spell Kirkpatrick who was victimized Sunday night.

I see a close game – much better than week seven. And although the Colts have looked far from the team they were earlier in the season, the Bengals track record in national TV games (though levitated slight with the MNF win vs Denver) looms large. The smart money is still on the Colts to win at home.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Cincinnati Bengals will win This offense has to outscore the Colts if they expect to win. I cannot see Cincinnati doing this.

Why the Indianapolis Colts will win Andrew Luck has an abundance of playmakers. 5 of Luck's receiving targets have 400 receiving yards. Indianapolis also leads the NFL in passing yards.

Andrew Luck finished his 2014 season with 4,761 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Unless Luck throws multiple picks, the Colts got this game.

Prediction: The Colts are a 3 point favorite with the public betting $20,000 total on his game. With 75 percent of the public betting on the Colts this may be a game that Vegas looks at just to get more coin. If Cincinnati wins, it means Vegas is trying to fix this game to make a quick buck. The average gambler is betting $285 dollars on the Colts. Luck is the better quarterback plus he has both of his offensive tackles with Anthony Costanzo and Gosder Cherillus.

Final Score Colts 42 Bengals 21

Detroit Lions 11-5-0
Dallas Cowboys 12-4-0

Jesse Lucas’ Pick

The Cowboys will get a win in the playoffs this year. Just one win but a win none the less. Tony Romo will throw 3 TD passes and Murray will run for 1.

Jason Bantle’s Pick

Lions in an upset because Dallas sucks at home and Suh is gonna play.

Chris Ransom’s Pick

Why the Detroit Lions will win Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson both eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards. Ndamukong Suh will play at defensive tackle after his rough hits against the Packers in week 17.

Why the Dallas Cowboys will win DeMarco Murray has 1,845 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. The downside with Murray is that he failed to catch a single receiving touchdown in 2014. I'd force Murray to catch i out of the backfield. Murray had a whopping 392 carries in 16 games. You have to wonder how long that lasts.

Tony Romo has an awesome supporting cast. His offensive line consists of left tackle Tyron Smith, left guard Ronald Leary, center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin, and right tackle Doug Free.

Dez Bryant had 1,320 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. Not just that. Terrence Williams had 621 receiving yards and 8 receiving touchdowns. Jason Witten had 64 receptions, 703 receiving yards, and 5 receiving touchdowns at tight end. Witten's backup Gavin Escobar had 4 receiving touchdowns. Dallas has a lethal passing game and should get the job done.

Prediction: The Cowboys are a 6.5 point favorite with the public betting $15,000 total on his game. With 60 percent of the public betting on Dallas. The average gambler is betting $165 dollars on the Cowboys.

Final Score Cowboys 28 Lions 21

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