NFL Wild Card Picks 2024 NFL Wild Card Predictions: Cleveland Browns 11-6-0 (-2.5) VS Houston Texans 10-7-0, Miami Dolphins 11-6-0 VS Kansas City Chiefs 11-6-0 (-5), Green Bay Packers 9-8-0 VS Dallas Cowboys 12-5-0 (-7), Los Angeles Rams 10-7-0 VS Detroit Lions 12-5-0 (-3), Pittsburgh Steelers 10-7-0 VS Buffalo Bills 11-6-0 (-10), Philadelphia Eagles 11-6-0 (-3), VS Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-8-0
















2024 NFL Wild Card Predictions



C.J. Stroud will win Offensive Rookie Of The Year. Find out how C.J. Stroud does in his playoff debut.





Chris Ransom Last Updated: January 13, 2024.



5. Cleveland Browns 11-6-0
Versus
4. Houston Texans 10-7-0


Chris Ransom's Pick


Mock Drafts for 2024 are now up on Draft Utopia. You can click the links to my 2024 NFL Mock Draft, my 2024 NHL Mock Draft, my 2024 NBA Mock Draft, my 2024 MLB Mock Draft and well as my 2024 MLS Mock Draft which is three rounds are all now up. Wes Langley also posted his mock, which I've linked as well. Click the links to read my mocks or this mock Wes Langley's 2024 NFL Mock Draft as well as his Wes Langley's 2024 NBA Mock Draft that Wes posted. Brian Bayless who correctly predicted 15/30 first round picks in the 2023 NBA Draft supplanting my six year run as most accurate NBA Mock from 2017-2022 posted his first Brian Bayless's 2024 NBA Mock Draft.


The 2024 MLS Draft was on December, 19, 2023. You can go to 2024 MLS Draft Results by clicking on 2024 MLS Draft Results to read about the 2024 MLS Super Draft.


Why the Cleveland Browns Will Win: Cleveland Browns 2023 fifth round pick Dorian Thompson-Robinson won the backup quarterback job in training camp beating out Joshua Dobbs for the position in the preseason, but struggled in his week 4 start to the point where he got demoted to the third string quarterback role. Deshaun Watson is now out for the year. Joe Flacco is starting the rest of the year according to Kevin Stefanski and he managed to get the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs with backup offensive tackles.


Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin, and Dawand Jones are all out for the season. Cleveland is gonna have Gerod Christian at left tackle, Joel Bitonio at left guard, Ethan Pocic at center, Wyatt Teller at right guard, and James Hudson at right tackle for the rest of the season.


Cleveland also has Gerod Christian as their backup left tackle, Luke Wypler as their backup left guard, Nick Harris as their backup center, Michael Dunn as their backup right guard, and James Hudson II as the backup right tackle. Cleveland has 10 quality players starters and backups on the offensive line. I think three of Cleveland's current backup offensive linemen could warrant opportunites as starters elsewhere with the backup offensive tackles being the weak link if anything happens to Jedrick Wills Jr. or Dawand Jones now that Jack Conklin is out for the year since James Hudson is expendable and would not be starting on any of the other thirty one NFL teams.


Cleveland had Gerod Christian at left tackle, Joel Bitonio at left guard, Ethan Pocic at center, Wyatt Teller at right guard, and James Hudson at right tackle.


Cleveland has Amari Cooper as their flanker wide receiver, Elijah Moore as their secondary wide receiver and David Bell as the slot receiver after Bell stepped up the last two weeks when Cedric Tillman and Marques Goodwin dealt with injuries. Goodwin could still be used in a depth role, but David Bell has played the best football in his NFL career the past two weeks.


Cleveland has David Njoku as their starting tight end, Jordan Akins as their backup tight end, and Harrison Bryant is now the third string tight end after once showing enough potential to be a backup to Njoku during his first two seasons. Cleveland lost Nick Chubb for the year. Jerome Ford and Kareem Hunt have been just as effective in relief.


Cleveland has Myles Garrett at 4-3 right end and Z'Darius Smith at 4-3 left end, but expect Jim Schwartz to put both Garrett and Smith against left tackles with the other edge rusher facing right tackles. Dalvin Tomlinson and Jordan Elliott are the starters at 4-3 defensive tackle. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is the backup 4-3 right end. Alex Wright is the backup 4-3 left end. Isaiah McGuire, Cleveland's 2023 fourth round pick out of Missouri that Joey and I mentioned on the podcast is the third string 4-3 right end. Siaki Ika, Cleveland's 2023 third round pick out of Baylor and Shelby Harris are the backup 4-3 defensive tackles. Isaiah Thomas Cleveland's 2022 seventh round pick out of Oklahoma originally got cut from the Browns, but Cleveland brought him back once replacing Alex Wright during his injury only for practice squad pass rusher Sam Kamara to steal the third string 4-3 left end job.


Cleveland has Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Anthony Walker Jr. at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Sione Takitaki at 4-3 let outside linebacker which is a good trio of starters to have when all three are fully healthy. Tony Fields II is a good backup 4-3 right outside linebacker to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, but he's been starting at 4-3 middle linebacker with Anthony Walker Jr. being placed on injured reserve before week 18. Cleveland has three quality linebackers, but cannot afford any more injuries at linebacker.


Cleveland has Denzel Ward at field cornerback, Martin Emerson Jr. at boundary cornerback, and Greg Newsome II at nickel cornerback after Emerson took the number two cornerback job from Cleveland's 2021 first round pick out of Northwestern. Cleveland played Greg Newsome II at boundary cornerback in week 6 while playing Martin Emerson Jr. at nickel cornerback, but Greg Newsome II didn't practice on Wednesday due to his injury. When Greg Newsome II left the game against Seattle with an injury in week 8, Cameron Mitchell got playing time at nickel cornerback in relief of Greg Newsome II while Martin Emerson Jr. played boundary cornerback. With Denzel Ward out, Greg Newsome II moves to field cornerback with Martin Emerson Jr. remaining at boundary cornerback. I liked Cameron Mitchell coming out of Northwestern and he was a good addition in the 2023 NFL Draft as Mitchell did enough to win the dime cornerback job. Mike Ford is the quarter cornerback. Denzel Ward is now questionable with a knee injury after getting injured on Thursday.


Grant Delpit is the starting strong safety and Juan Thornhill is the starting free safety. Grant Delpit has been out the last four weeks and is going to be out once again. Juan Thornhill didn't practice on Wednesday and missed week 15. Juan Thornhill could be out for a second week in a row. Cleveland's backup safeties did well in relief of their starters. Cleveland Browns backup strong safety D'Anthony Bell and Cleveland Browns backup free safety both had critical interceptions in their brief time as starters and having those guys in depth roles allows you to execute more personnel wise.


Cleveland has Dustin Hopkins at kicker after Cade York unraveled in the preseason and got cut by the Cleveland Browns. Dustin Hopkins suffered a season ending injury, but former Detroit Lions kicker Riley Patterson got signed to the Cleveland Browns practice squad and will probably get promoted to the active roster. Cleveland lost Jakeem Grant at kick returner and punt returner to a season ending injury for the second year in a row in 2023. Pierre Strong Jr. is the kick returner while Elijah Moore is the punt returner on special teams.


Why the Houston Texans Will Win: C.J. Stroud the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft out of Ohio State is now the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans. C.J. Stroud missed the last two weeks with a concussion, but should be back in week 17. C.J. Stroud was a limited practice on Wednesday. Houston started Laremy Tunsil at left tackle, Juice Scruggs at left guard fresh off of injured reserve once Tytus Howard was ruled out for the year at left guard following the injury to Kenyon Green, Michael Dieter at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and George Fant at right tackle. George Fant has put together his best season at right tackle while Michael Dieter has improved with a career year at center. That's one reason why the Houston Texans are in contention this late in the season. George Fant missed week 18 with Charlie Heck starting at right tackle and it was not a good day for Charlie Heck, but the Texans managed to beat the Colts despite Heck starting at right tackle. Houston's offensive line is the healthiest it can be with Fant returning to right tackle despite the injuries to Tytus Howard, Kenyon Green, and Jarrett Patterson.


Houston has Josh Jones as a backup left tackle and Nick Broeker is the Houston Texans backup left guard. Jarrett Patterson will be Houston's backup center once he returns from injured reserve. Houston also has Charlie Heck as a backup right guard and a backup right tackle. Remember Houston's 2022 first round pick Kenyon Green suffered a season ending injury in training camp and Houston's 2019 first round pick Tytus Howard suffered a season ending injury in week 12 when Houston lost at NRG Stadium to Jacksonville. C.J. Stroud went 2-1 against the AFC North Division as a rookie defeating both the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-6 a playoff team at home when everyone except Cameron Heyward was healthy. C.J. Stroud also defeated Cincinnati on the road, when Cincinnati had a fully healthy defense. I think Cleveland's defense may be weaker than the Bengals defense was when Stroud beat the Bengals defense with zero injuries on the road, at the same time, this is the healthiest Cleveland's defense has been since week 10.


Houston has Nico Collins as their number one flanker receiver, Robert Woods as their number two secondary receiver, and Noah Brown as the slot receiver with John Metchie III and Xavier Hutchinson as the two main backup wide receivers with rookie third round pick Tank Dell out for the season. Nico Collins has played well the last two weeks since Stroud returned to the lineup.


Dalton Schultz is the starting tight end with Dameon Pierce as the starting running back. Brevin Jordan became the backup tight end when Teagan Quitoriano got placed on injured reserve in week 9. Eric Saubert had a reception in week 18 as the third string tight end. Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce can split carries at running back. Andrew Beck is quite the asset at fullback himself. There's a lot playmakers on this offense for the second pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Houston lost to Cleveland in week 16 due to defensive injuries


Houston has Jonathan Greenard starting at 4-3 right end and Will Anderson Jr. their third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft out of Alabama starting at 4-3 left end. Derek Barnett is the backup 4-3 right end after getting cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jerry Hughes who led the Houston Texans in sacks last year is listed as a backup 4-3 left end to Will Anderson Jr. Derek Barnett is the only healthy 4-3 defensive end with Jonathan Greenard, Will Anderson Jr., and Jerry Hughes did not practice during the first two days of practice after Will Anderson Jr. returned in week 18 before Greenard got injured. There's a chance all three miss the wild card game against the Cleveland Browns making Houston just as depleted as pass rusher as the Cleveland Browns at offensive tackle.


Houston would have to start Derek Barnett at 4-3 right end and Myjai Sanders at 4-3 left end with no depth on the edge if all three were inactive with injuries. The irony is that both Derek Barnett and Myjai Sanders were two of the top three players on defense against the Indianapolis Colts in week 18 when the Indianapolis Colts offensive line was at full health. Cleveland's offensive tackle room is more depleted than the Indianapolis Colts which is why the Houston Texans have a chance to win if these backups play like they did against the Indianapolis Colts in week 18.


Houston ruled out Jerry Hughes for the wild card game. Jonathan Greenard and Will Anderson Jr. both practiced in a limited capacity on Friday. Will Anderson Jr. started in week 18 coming back from a injury while Jonathan Greenard got injured in week 18. With both players listed as questionable, my hypothesis is that Will Anderson Jr. starts and Jonathan Greenard is ruled inactive. Aaron Wilson just confirmed what John McClain speculated on Monday about Houston's two best defensive ends playing with Jonathan Greenard at 4-3 right end and Will Anderson Jr. at 4-3 left end playing.


Maliek Collins and Sheldon Rankins are the two starters at 4-3 defensive tackles for the Houston Texans, which is an improvement from last year, but I still feel like the Texans depth at defensive tackle could improve. Houston added Teair Tart the Tennessee Titans starting 3-4 nose tackle for depth at 4-3 defensive tackle and Khalil Davis did sack Gardner Minshew II in week 18 as a backup 4-3 defensive tackle. Houston has just as much depth at defensive tackle in the wild card round as the Cleveland Browns.


Houston has Christian Harris a linebacker from Alabama at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Denzel Perryman is back at 4-3 middle linebacker and led the NFL with 135 total tackles in 2023. Houston uses Blake Cashman at 4-3 left outside linebacker when deploying a 4-3 personnel. Blake Cashman is the backup outside linebacker in a 4-2-5 nickel defense as well as the backup middle linebacker. Henry To'oTo'o, Houston's 2023 fifth round pick out of Alabama got to start a few games while Perryman was injured and Cashman was suspended, but he's now a third string linebacker.


Houston has Derek Stingley Jr. at field cornerback, Steven Nelson at boundary cornerback, Desmond King returned to start at nickel cornerback after Houston cut Shaquill Griffin before placing Tavierre Thomas on injured reserve prior week 15. Houston's nickel cornerback could return in week 19 which is this weekend, but he hasn't been activated off of injured reserve yet. The backup cornerbacks on this roster are all undrafted Free Agents like dime cornerback Ka'dar Hollman, quarter cornerback D'Angelo Ross, and reserve cornerback Kris Boyd. This can change if Tavierre Thomas returns since Desmond King would move down to dime cornerback with only one of these undrafted cornerbacks playing quarter cornerback in five cornerback sets. Houston didn't have Steven Nelson when the Cleveland Browns headed to Houston in week 16 which is why this Houston Texans secondary is different than the one the Cleveland Browns faced a few weeks ago.


Houston moved Jalen Pitre from free safety to strong safety where he played in college at Baylor due to numerous injuries at safety. Houston placed free safety Jimmie Ward on injured reserve in week 17. Backup strong safety M.J. Stewart and backup free safety Eric Murray have both been on injured reserve since week 10 and neither player is off of injured reserve. The Houston Texans have Deandre Houston-Carlson at free safety who finished in the top 5 on the Houston Texans defense against the Indianapolis Colts on Pro Football Focus ranking first among defensive backs ahead of Derek Stingley Jr Deandre Houston-Carlson is playing with confidence at free safety since Jimmie Ward got placed on injured reserve. Former Denver Broncos strong safety Kareem Jackson originally drafted by the Houston Texans out of Alabama in 2010 is the backup free safety. Former Green Bay Packers strong safety Adrian Amos is the backup free safety. Houston has decent starters and backups at the safety despite having three of their top four safeties on injured reserve. That speaks volumes as far as the type of culture Demeco Ryans is building in Houston.


Houston's offense needs to score touchdowns while the defense limits touchdowns if the Houston Texans are going to win. Outside of kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn at kicker and Desmond King at return specialist as both the kick returner and punt returner.


It is hard to say who has the referee advantage between Cleveland and Houston. Tra Blake did a great job calling a fair game in week 16. At the same time, Clay Martin the same referee in the Cleveland Browns divisional round loss to Kansas City on the Daniel Sorensen fumble that denied Rashard Higgins a touchdown is calling this game. Cleveland is 2-0 since then and has had more regular season success than Houston in games officiated by Martin, but in Houston's defense their quarterback situation was ass the last two years prior to the arrival of C.J. Stroud. This feels like a coin flip game and I'm going to tell every conspiracy theorist who believes in Gematria how Joe Flacco is 6-0 in opening round games and 5-0 in wild card games applies to Gematria.


For all the conspiracy theorists that believe Gematria has a influence on NFL games Joe Flacco has a gematria of 70 and is currently 6-0 in opening round games while also being 5-0 in wild card games in his career which is why the Cleveland Browns could win as favorites, Cleveland Browns has a gematria of 61, and Houston Texans has a gematria of 51. The fix is in, but the bigger question is who is the fix in for?


I'm leaning towards Houston in an upset, but Cleveland is the favorite and could just as easily prevail since this is what Gematria experts like to call a double coded game where the Gematria numerology has a correlation to Joe Flacco if he wins and improves to 7-0 in opening round games, there's a correlation to the Cleveland Browns if they lose and fall to 6-1 since Cleveland Browns quarterback Joe Flacco would be 6-1 in the opening round following a loss to Houston with Cleveland Browns having a Gematria of 61 which would connect to Flacco losing in an opening round game while currently being 6-0 in opening round games, and the Houston Texans have a gematria of 51 which is fitting since Joe Flacco whose currently 5-0 in wild card games would fall to 5-1 in wild card games if the Houston Texans defeated the Cleveland Browns in an upset since the Houston Texans have a gematria of 51.


Most people I've heard have the Browns winning, but I'd argue there's just as much Gematria favoring the Houston Texans too. Houston fans can argue there's more Gematria favoring the Texans after I laid out these numbers and I think the whole Gematria stuff is crazy since I like to focus on the players and key matchups more than the numerology of coding letters into numbers. Also, Houston can improve where they pick in the 2024 NFL Draft in terms of draft position by knocking out the Cleveland Browns since Houston owns Cleveland's first round pick for one more year thanks to the Deshaun Watson trade. I expect this to be a shootout, but am taking the Houston Texans to win by a field goal at the very end.


Prediction: Cleveland is a 2.5 point favorite at -2.5. The over or under is 44.5 with 58% of the public betting on Cleveland. The money line is -140 for Cleveland and +120 for Houston. I like Houston to win and to cover with the over at +120. Bet $180 on this game for Houston and win up to $300 as long as the Browns win by 2 or less.


Final Score Texans 34 Browns 31





Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless



6. Miami Dolphins 11-6-0
Versus
3. Kansas City Chiefs 11-6-0


Chris Ransom's Pick


We're back for the 2023 NFL Season. You can follow our weekly predictions crew. Jesse Lucas won the first year in 2014-2015. Jason Bantle and myself now have two championships after I won the NFL Pickem Champion Trophy for most accurate predictions against the spread in 2020-2021 and had the most accurate NFL predictions again in 2022-2023. Oren Shiri, Tanya Holmes, and Wes Langley have one pickem title too back in 2021-2022. Send me your predictions on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to be eligible for prizes should you have a perfect week. You can also email me your season picks by emailing me at chris@draftutopia.com.


For the third year in a row Draft Utopia defeated the maintstream media in NFL Predictions. After I had the best record in 2020-2021 going 181-74-1, Wes Langley went 189-95-1 in 2021-2022. I went 190-92-3 in 2022-2023 allowing Draft Utopia to become the first sports website in the world to three peat in NFL predictions. Wes, myself, and the rest of our entire staff are back to make picks for the 2023 NFL Season.


Lisa Donovan is first in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 189-83 record after going 13-3 in week 18. Lisa has the top record in the country at this point with a eight game lead over Doug Barrell of Gridiron Experts whose 181-91. Emmy Bantle of Jason Bantle's Yahoo pool is 180-92. Sue Stolenberg is 179-93 and Jared Dublin of CBS is also 179-93. Lisa also leads the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings by 15 games meaning she's won the pool for this year even if we take all 13 NFL Playoff games into account with those four individuals being the only individuals in the running to supplant Lisa.


I am second in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 174-98 record after going 11-5 in week 18. I am currently tied for sixth in the country entering this years NFL Playoffs.


Andrew Kermish is third in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 169-103 record after going 9-7 in week 18. Andrew is currently tied for sixteenth in the country.


Jason Bantle and Tanya Holmes fourth in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 167-105 record on the year. Jason and Tanya are both tied for nineteenth in the country occupying the final two spots in the top 20.


Brian Bayless is sixth in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 165-107 record. Brian Bayless is twenty first in the country.


Wes Langley is seventh in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings at 164-108. Wes is tied for twenty third in the country competing for that last spot in the top 25.


Jesse Lucas is eighth in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 162-110 record. Jesse is twenty seventh in the country.


Tracy Porter is ninth in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 161-111 record. Tracy is tied for twenty eighth in the country.


Joseph Potter is in tenth place in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings at 159-113 on the year. Joey is thirty first in the country.


Oren Shiri is in eleventh place in the 2023 Draft Utopia NFL Pickem Standings with a 157-115 record. Oren is thirty third in the country.


Why the Miami Dolphins Will Win: Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has Terron Armstead at left tackle thanks to avoiding an injury scare, but Armstead got ruled out in week 1 with Kendall Lamb playing at left tackle and Isaiah Wynn at left guard. Connor Williams is back at center. Robert Hunt remains at right guard. Austin Jackson is the blindside at right tackle for left handed quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.


Miami has Kendall Lamb as their backup left tackle, Lester Cotton as their backup left guard, Liam Eichenberg as their backup center, Robert Jones as theirr backup right guard, and Kendall Lamb can play backup right tackle as well.


Miami lost both starting left guard Isaiah Wynn and starting center Connor Williams to season ending injuries. In week 18, Miami had Terron Armstead at left tackle, Robert Jones at left guard in relief of Wynn, Liam Eichenberg at center, Robert Hunt finally returned from a lengthy injury at right guard, and Austin Jackson at right tackle following his extension.


Miami has Tyreek Hill as their flanker receiver and Jaylen Waddle as their secondary wide receiver even though Waddle showed ability to be a number one target before Miami traded for Tyreek Hill after having over 100 receptions as a rookie when the Miami Dolphins made Waddle their 2021 first round pick. Braxton Berrios won the slot receiver job. Cedrick Wilson Jr. and River Cracraft were pushing each other for the number four wide receiver job in training camp, but Cedrick Wilson Jr. ultimately won that job. Chase Claypool is the number six receiver on this depth chart thanks to Miami trading their 2024 seventh round pick to the Chicago Bears for a slot receiver that got benched. Robbie Chosen is the number seven wide receiver on this depth chart. Miami has two superstar wide receivers and five quality receivers on this depth chart when everyone is healthy, but it is safe to say that both Claypool and Chosen formerly known as Robbie Anderson are expendable once Miami's season ends this offseason.


Miami's had three consecutive weeks where either Tyreek Hill or Jaylen Waddle started, but the other player didn't down the stretch. Miami didn't have Waddle in the final two regular season games against Baltimore an Buffalo and ended up losing both contests to Baltimore and Buffalo, who ended up as the top two seeds in the AFC. For the first time in nearly a month, Miami will have both of their top two wide receivers ready for Super Wild Card weekend.


While Miami is just as deep at wide receiver compared to last year, I think their worse at tight end with backup tight end Durham Smythe replacing Mike Gesicki, but Durham Smythe didn't practice leading up to week 9. Tyreek Hill missed week 15. Jaylen Waddle got injured in week 16 against Dallas and did not return to the game. Jaylen Waddle didn't practice on Wednesday heading into week 17.


Miami had Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane after Miami's 2023 third round pick out of Texas A&M had over 200 rushing yards against Denver back week in week 3. Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane are both good enough to start when fully healthy with both running backs capable of being the number one running back in this lineup. This is the first time in three weeks where both running backs are fully healthy despite the injuries on this offensive line. Jeffrey Wilson Jr. has done alright as a change of pace running back in relief of Mostert the past two weeks. Fullback Alec Ingold was good with the Las Vegas Raiders and got voted to the Pro Bowl as the fullback for the AFC this year.


Miami has Christian Wilkins at 3-4 right end, Raekwon Davis at 3-4 nose tackle, and Zach Seiler at 3-4 left end who jumped Emmanuel Ogbah on Miami's depth chart at 3-4 left end after finishing fourth in total tackles and first in the NFL in forced fumbles during Ogbah's season ending injury in 2022 before getting a team friendly extension after Christian Wilkins wouldn't re-sign with Miami. Miami's 3-4 defensive line is the healthiest part of their defense at the moment.


Miami Dolphins starting 3-4 right outside linebacker Bradley Chubb tore his ACL in week 17. Miami Dolphins 3-4 left outside linebacker Jaelen Phillips tore his ACL on Black Friday in week 12. Both M&T Bank Stadium and Met Life Stadium decided to be assholes to Miami's two best pass rushers. Andrew Van Ginkel, the backup 3-4 right outside linebacker started at 3-4 right outside linebacker in week 18 with Melvin Ingram starting at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Andrew Van Ginkel got injured in week 18 and is now out in the wild card round this week.


Miami signed both Bruce Irvin and Justin Houston at edge rusher due to how depleted the Miami Dolphins are at 3-4 outside linebacker. Miami has Melvin Ingram, Jason Pierre Paul, Bruce Irvin, Justin Houston, and Emmanuel Ogbah if Miami wants to move Ogbah from backup 3-4 left end to a starting pass rusher off the edge at 3-4 outside linebacker for this weeks game against the Kansas City Chiefs. None of these guys have the starpower and presence that someone like Bradley Chubb or Jaelan Phillips provides.


It sounds like Melvin Ingram will start at 3-4 right outside linebacker with Emmanuel Ogbah starting at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Bruce Irvin will be the backup 3-4 right outside linebacker five days after being signed to Miami's roster having hardly any time to learn Miami's team playbook. Same can be said for former Kansas City Chief Justin Houston who will be the backup 3-4 left outside linebacker to Emmanuel Ogbah.


Miami Dolphins 3-4 middle linebacker Jerome Baker is the best inside linebacker the Miami Dolphins have. He's also out for Miami in addition to Miami's top three 3-4 outside linebackers being out this week. David Long Jr. whose started at 3-4 middle linebacker most of this season next to Jerome Baker when both were healthy will continue to start inside. Complimenting him will be backup 3-4 middle linebacker who will get the start in relief of Jerome Baker. Miami also has Channing Tindall a 2022 third round pick out of Georgia, but instead of having faith in Tindall who won a National Title at Georgia, Miami is opting for Riley instead since he's more athletic.


Miami has Bradley Chubb at 3-4 right outside linebacker and Jaelen Phillips at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Jerome Baker and David Long Jr. will play at 3-4 middle linebacker. Anderew Van Ginkel was the backup 3-4 right outside linebacker when Bradley Chubb and Jaelen Phillips were both fully healthy. Miami can use Emmanuel Ogbah as a situational edge rusher or a situational 5-technique player on the interior at both 3-4 left end and 3-4 left outside linebacker. Miami can also has Channing Tindall for depth at 3-4 middle linebacker. When Jaelen Phillips got injured in week 3, Andrew Van Ginkel played 3-4 left outside linebacker in week 4 before Emmanuel Ogbah came back from his injury and played that role in week 5. Jaelen Phillips was a full practice heading into week 7. Jaelen Phillips tore his ACL. Miami signed Jason Pierre-Paul to compliment Andrew Van Ginkel and Emmanuel Ogbah. Jerome Baker tore his MCL and should be back for the playoffs, but will be out for a few weeks and that's a big blow since he's Miami's best 3-4 middle linebacker.


Miami has Xavien Howard at field cornerback covering number one receivers. Jalen Ramsey is Miami's boundary cornerback. Kader Kohoo is Miami's nickel cornerback. Eli Apple is the dime cornerback. Cam Smith, Miami's 2023 second round pick is the quarter cornerback in five cornerback sets.


Xavien Howard got injured in week 17 against Baltimore and missed week 18 as a result. Miami started Jalen Ramsey at field cornerback, Eli Apple at boundary cornerback, and used Kader Kohoo at nickel cornerback. Miami did not use any dime cornerback sets with four cornerbacks even on plays where Buffalo threw it deep, so Miami's 2023 second round pick Cam Smith didn't see any snaps despite being promoted from quarter cornerback to dime cornerback as the number four cornerback following Xavien Howard's injury. Miami's quarter cornerback now in five cornerback sets following the injury to Xavien Howard is Nik Needham, who actually did decent against Minnesota when starting at nickel cornerback for a game in 2022 when Xavien Howard was injured before leaving that game against the Vikings with a injury.


Miami still has a lot of depth at cornerback following the injury to Xavien Howard with the guys I mentioned like Ramsey, Apple, Kohoo, Smith , and Needham. There's also no replacing the impact Howard has though as a 2015 second round pick out of Baylor whose still with Miami as one of their top two shutdown cornerbacks eight years later. Eli Apple can get interceptions, but he's also a major liability in coverage and without Howard in this lineup, the game plan to throw on this defense becomes a little bit easier for opposing offenses. As long as you throw away from Jalen Ramsey, you can make big plays against Miami's cornerbacks as long as your receivers do a good job on the release getting separation against cornerbacks like Eli Apple and Kader Kohoo.


Miami has Jevon Holland at strong safety and DeShon Elliott at free safety with Elliott taking the starting free safety job from his former Texas teammate Brandon Jones. Both Jevon Holland and DeShon Elliott did not practice on Tuesday or Wednesday leading up to this game with injuries. Both Holland and Elliott were healthy enough to start in week 18, but both players played through injuries. Neither player practicing for two days in a row is a sign that both players may be inactive for the wild card round. Miami Dolphins backup strong safety Elijah Campbell a former backup strong safety on the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins backup free safety Brandon Jones whose got experience starting before Elliott took his job would be the starting safeties for the Miami Dolphins if both Holland Elliott are ruled inactive.


Miami has Jason Sanders at kicker and Jake Bailey at punter. Braxton Berrios is the return specialist at kick returner and punt returner for the Miami Dolphins.


Why the Kansas City Chiefs Will Win: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has Donovan Smith at left tackle, Joe Thuney at left guard, Creed Humprhey at center, Trey Smith at right guard, and Jawaan Taylor starting at right tackle. Donovan Smith has been inactive since week 13 with Kansas City Chiefs 2023 third round pick Wanya Morris playing left tackle the past five games. Wanya Morris suffered a concussion in week 18, but the good news for Kansas City is that Donovan Smith has been a full practice and his playoff experience that he had during Tampa Bay's run to Super Bowl 55 where Tampa Bay dethroned the Super Bowl 54 Champion Kansas City Chiefs will be on display this weekend against a team that has their top three pass rushers all out with injuries.


Outside of Donovan Smith at left tackle, I trust the rest of the offensive linemen in these roles even though offensive tackle is finally a weakness for Kansas City after being a strength for Patrick Mahomes during his first five NFL seasons as a starting quarterback. Lucas Niang, Kansas City's 2020 third round pick who once started in his second year before having a tedious injury history is now Kansas City's swing tackle if something happens to Smith or Taylor thanks to Morris being in concussion protocol. Nick Allegretti is the backup left guard to Joe Thuney, the backup center to Creed Humphrey, and the backup right guard to Trey Smith. He's stepped in whenever someone on this interior offensive line has missed a few plays. Unlike last year when Thuney and Smith each missed a game during Kansas City's run to Super Bowl 57, Kansas City's interior offensive line has been fully healthy for the most part this season.


Kansas City has Rashee Rice, Skyy Moore, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as their top three wide receivers when fully healthy. Rashee Rice, the 2023 second round pick out of SMU has asserted himself as the flanker wide receiver on the Kansas City Chiefs becoming the number one wide receiver for Patrick Mahomes as a rookie really stepping up down the stretch. He's probably better served a number two receiver down the road if the Kansas City Chiefs upgrade at wide receiver in a very deep and top heavy 2024 NFL Draft at wide receiver, but Rice got the job done as a number one wide receiver this season as a rookie.


Skyy Moore got promoted from slot receiver as a rookie to the number two wide receiver after stepping up in a big way during Super Bowl 57 as a rookie. Skyy Moore got placed on injured reserve the day after Kansas City defeated New England in week 15 making Moore ineligible to play from weeks 16 to the wild card round of this years NFL Playoffs with Moore being eligible to return next week if the Kansas City Chiefs advance.


Justin Watson whose been the most consistent situational big play threat off of the bench in random situations has been the number two wide receiver in relief of Skyy Moore the past three weeks. This is largely due to the fact that both Marquez Valdes-Scanting and Kadarius Toney last years number two receiver that complimented JuJu Smith-Schuster during Mahomes MVP season have both dropped enough passes to get benched. Unforunately, Marquez Valdes-Scantling is Kansas City's slot receiver this week due to his injuries and will probably remain in that role for the rest of this season once Skyy Moore returns due to how much he's getting paid.


Justyn Ross and Mecole Hardman are both listed as backups on the Kansas City Chiefs depth chart as the number five and number six wide receivers, but can come in and catch passes off the bench situationally like Justin Watson's done the last two years. Kansas City's seventh and only third string wide receiver at the moment is Ritchie James. This is mainly due to Skyy Moore being on injured reserve.


Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the NFL as well as the main receiving target option on this offense despite being a tight end. He's also dating Taylor Swift, but I'd rather preview the game even though I am happy for Travis. Travis Kelce had eight conseuctive seasons over 1,000 receiving yards putting together his worst NFL season since his rookie year. Travis Kelce could have a signature game at tight end especially if strong safety Jevon Holland and free safety DeShon Elliott, Miami's two starting safeties both get ruled inactive after playing through injuries in week 18. Travis Kelce's last game with over 90 receiving yards was week 12 against the Raiders with his last receiving touchdown coming in week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelce actually averaged 20.2 yards per catch in week 13. Kelce played well in week 14 despite not getting in the end zone nearly winning the game on a trick play versus the Buffalo Bills on the day Frank Wycheck passed away.


The last three games Kelce played he had under 50 receiving yards before sitting out in week 18 which is the big reason people are starting to fade on Travis Kelce. The thing is, Travis could playing two backup safeties on Miami and I don't trust backup strong safety Elijah Campbell, who was once the weakest safety on the New York Jets before getting cut by the Jets against Kelce in one on ones if Jevon Holland happens to be out even though Brandon Jones could limit what Kelce does on deep passing plays in zone coverage due to having three years of experience at free safety this season before losing the free safety job to DeShon Elliott in his contract year.


Miami held Travis Kelce to 3 receptions for 14 receiving yards in Germany, but that was the Miami Dolphins first game of three games all season with their defense at full health prior to Jaelen Phillips tearing his ACL on Black Friday in week 12. Miami has backup edge rushers, no Jerome Baker at 3-4 middle linebacker, their best cornerback Xavien Howard is out, and their top two safeties are out. This is my big reason for Kelce having a rebound game in the playoffs and I'm also the type of person who values a healthy depth chart over momentum. Momentum helps, having a top 5 team in passing yards or fewest passing yards on defense helps, but sometimes I feel like people who make picks based off momentum do not want to take injuries into account. Travis Kelce is playing a depleted Miami defense and something tells me he rebounds this week since his only two games with over 100 receiving yards came at Arrowhead Stadium.


Travis Kelce is the biggest playmaker on this offense. He isn't the only impact player on this offense. Noah Gray has three years of experience as a number two tight end and is currently on the third year of his four year rookie contract. Blake Bell is the third string tight end. Matt Bushman got called up from the practice squad to be the third string tight end after Kelce's injury, but will probably get sent back down to the practice squad.


Isiah Pacheco is the starting running back. Kansas City has Jerick McKinnon as the backup running back and Clyde Edwards-Helaire as their third string running back. Kansas City got Isiah Pacheco back in week 17 despite placing Jerrick McKinnon on injured reserve leading up to that game. Kansas City will have Isiah Pacheco as their main running back with Kansas City Chiefs 2020 first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the change of pace running back before Jerrick McKinnon returns. Right now, Lamichael Perine is the third string running back, but I expect Kansas City to release him once McKinnon is cleared to play. Jerrick McKinnon could return if Kansas City happens to make their sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game and would be back by Super Bowl 58 at the latest if Kansas City found a way to defend their AFC Title.


Kansas City has Mike Danna at 4-3 right end. George Karlaftis Kansas City's 2022 first round pick from Purdue enters year two at 4-3 left end. Charles Omenihu is the backup 4-3 right end after giving away free Peacock subscriptions leading up to this weeks game. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas City's 2023 first round pick is the backup 4-3 left end. Kansas City is just as deep on the edge as they were a year ago despite letting Frank Clark walk.


Kansas City has Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi the two starting 4-3 defensive tackles on their Super Bowl 54 and Super Bowl 57 teams back. Tershawn Wharton and Neil Farrell Jr. are the backup 4-3 defensive tackles. Kansas City added Isaiah Buggs the starting defensive tackle on the Detroit Lions to their practice squad after Detroit released Isaiah Buggs.


Kansas City has Willie Gay Jr. at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Nick Bolton at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Leo Chenal at 4-3 left outside linebacker. Kansas City has three quality starters at linebacker that can defend the run and drop back into coverage. When Kansas City runs 4-2-5 nickel Willie Gay Jr. will be the starting outside linebacker with Nick Bolton as the middle linebacker. Leo Chenal would be the backup outside linebacker to Willie Gay Jr. while former Los Angeles Chargers starter Drue Tranquill will serve as a backup to Nick Bolton. Cam Jones a undrafted linebacker out of Indiana did well enough to make Kansas City's second team as a backup and showed some promise in week 18, so that's a guy to watch moving forward.


Kansas City has Trent McDuffie at field cornerback, L'Jarius Sneed at boundary cornerback, Justin Reid at strong safety, and Bryan Cook their 2022 second round pick taking over for Juan Thornhill at free safety. Jaylen Watson is playing at nickel cornerback, Joshua Williams is playing at dime cornerback, and Darius Rush the rookie cornerback out of South Carolina as a quarter cornerback give the Kansas City Chiefs the depth at cornerback to limit opposing wide receivers from making big plays as Rush had a top 100 grade in the late third to early fourth round before being waived by the Indianapolis Colts. Kansas City also has Nic Jones their 2023 seventh round pick out of Ball State who impressed me on tape and the interview process before making the Chiefs 53 man roster. Mike Edwards the Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety from last year is the backup strong safety to Justin Reid with 2023 fourth round pick Chamarri Conner moving over from cornerback to free safety. Kansas City listed Darius Rush, and Nic Jones as inactives at cornerback relying on their top 4 cornerbacks from last years Super Bowl 57 roster.


After Ja'Marr Chase called Bryan Cook just another guy on injured reserve, he got cleared to play prior to week 17. Kansas City has had their best 11 defensive players on the field for four games this season against Denver in week 6, the Los Angeles Chargers in week 7, the Cincinnati Bengals in week 17, and the Los Angeles Chargers in week 18 where Andy Reid rested his starters on offense, but played his starters on defense. Kansas City is 4-0 in those games with their defense giving up 17 points or less in all four of those contests. This is why injury reports and constantly studying the team depth charts weekly trumps momentum because if you talk about the Chiefs being sixth in pass defense, but in the bottom five in turnover margin from Kansas City's miscues on offense, getting fumble recoveries, or interceptions you aren't taking the health of the Kansas City Chiefs defense as a team into account when picking a winner solely based on whose got more momentum.


Kansas City has Harrison Butker at kicker. Kansas City also has Tommy Townsend at punter. Ritchie James is the return specialist at kick returner and punt returner.


This game will be anywhere from -10 degrees to 10 degrees with winds from up to 10 to 15 miles per hour. It will also be snowing. Tua Tagovailoa is 0-4 in games under 40 degrees in his career and the coldest game he played in was a 20 degree game in High School where his High School Football team in Hawaii took on a High School team in Alaska where his High School Football Team lost. Saturday's game at Arrowhead Stadium is projected to be colder than Tua Tagovailoa's coldest High School football game he ever played in when traveling to Alaska.


Brad Rogers is the referee officiating for the wild card matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Miami is 1-2 in games officiated by Brad Rodgers and Kansas City is 3-0 in games officiated by Brad Rodgers getting only 1 penalty for 15 yards in three games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos where Kansas City beat Denver twice. This is also the first Kansas City Chiefs game Brad Rogers has called since Kansas City defeated Jacksonville in the regular season last year where the Chiefs had 0 penalties with this being the first playoff game Brad Rogers is calling in his career as a referee. The defensive injuries for Miami, weather, and officiating all favor Kansas City massively especially after NFL fans got pissed at the dynamic duo of Ron Torbert as well as Carl Cheffers for their shenanigans in last years AFC Championship and Super Bowl 57. One more thing to most people are betting the under expecting a defensive game since the weather is so bad. I'm actually leaning towards the over in a surprise.


Prediction: Kansas City is a 5 point favorite at -5. The over or under is 44 with 58% of the public betting on Kansas City to cover the spread. The money line is and +185 for Miami and -225 for Kansas City. Take Kansas City win and to cover with the over at -225. Bet $275 on this game for Kansas City and win up to $900 as long as the Chiefs win by 6 or more.


Final Score Chiefs 31 Dolphins 17





Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless



7. Green Bay Packers 9-8-0
Versus
2. Dallas Cowboys 12-5-0


Chris Ransom's Pick


Hank Hill from King of the Hill and assistant GM and Director Of College Scouting Dale Gribble finally got back to the playoffs since taking over for Lumberg in 2020. Dallas is 41-24 since 2020.




Here is this weeks hot take from Hank Hill.

We're playing Green Bay, a team that's had our number in the playoffs. Green Bay no longer has Mike McCarthy as head coach, we do. Green Bay also doesn't have Aaron Rodgers anymore. Boomhower said it best, the Dallas Cowboys aren't losing to no dang old Love Machine. Jordan Love did a great job in his first seaston starting at quarterback for Green Bay. He doesn't have the playoff experience Dak has and that will matter in the grand scheme of things. The Love Machine's conquest for winning games ends in Dallas this year gentlemen.


Why the Green Bay Packers Will Win: Jordan Love takes over for Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Green Bay has David Bahktiari at left tackle, Elgton Jenkins at left guard, Josh Myers at center, Jon Runyan Jr. at right guard, and Zach Tom at right tackle. Green Bay placed David Bahktiari on injured reserve prior to week 4, but it was later revealed that David Bahktiari is out for the season. Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan Jr. returned as the starting guards on both sides of the offensive line in week 7.


Green Bay will have Rasheed Walker at left tackle, Elgton Jenkins at left guard, Josh Myers at center, Jon Runayn Jr. at right guard, and Zach Tom at right tackle on the offensive line for the rest of the season. This offensive line has done alright without David Bahktiari even though an argument can be made for upgrading Rasheed Walker.


Christian Watson, Green Bay's 2022 second round pick out of North Dakota State finished his rookie season strong after missing the early portion of the season with injuries and enters year two as the flanker receiver and number one target whose finally going to be back after missing multiple weeks with injuries. Romeo Doubs Green Bay's 2022 fourth round pick out of Nevada is the secondary wide receiver. Jayden Reed Green Bay's 2023 second round pick out of Michigan State beat out Samari Toure for the slot receiver job in the preseason.


Dontayvion Wicks another rookie from the 2023 NFL Draft began the year as the number five receiver on the depth chart, but jumped Samri Toure to be the number four wide receiver. Samari Toure Green Bay's 2022 seventh round pick out of Nebraska that Jason Bantle mocked to Green Bay in the third round of his 2022 NFL Mock Draft has made strides in year two and almost won the slot receiver job, so he began the year as the number four receiver before being demoted to the number five wide receiver. Samari Toure is out in week 15.


Green Bay has Luke Musgrave their 2023 second round pick out of Oregon State as the starting tight end. Tucker Kraft was a starting tight end on South Dakota State before the Packers picked him in the third round of this years NFL Draft. Tucker Kraft managed to beat out Tyler Davis for the backup tight end job which led to Tyler Davis getting cut by the Green Bay Packers. Tukcer Kraft has done well in relief of Luke Musgrave. Luke Musgrave is back in week 16.


Green Bay still has Aaron Jones as their starting running back and A.J. Dillon as the backup running back. Aaron Jones is healthy, but A.J. Dillon isn't. I don't like Green Bay's third string running back, but Josiah Deguara is a decent fullback option if Green Bay opts to use the former Cincinnati fullback at his natural position rather than an extra tight end.


Green Bay is moving Kenny Clark from nose tackle to 3-4 right end, Devonte Wyatt one of Green Bay's two 2022 first round picks out of Georgia is at 3-4 left end, and Terdarrelle Slaton is the starting the nose tackle Florida drafted in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft is starting at 3-4 nose tackle after developing under Kenny Clark as a backup for two years, but he's now known as T.J. Slaton. Ourlads reported this back in May, but now the Green Bay Packers team website confirmed this on their updated depth chart. Colby Wooden will be the backup 3-4 right end to Kenny Clark with the rookie out of Auburn learning under Kenny Clark and Karl Brooks the Bowling Green defensive tackle playing 3-4 left end as a backup to Devonte Wyatt. Green Bay doesn't have a backup 3-4 nose tackle to T.J. Slaton, but could always move Kenny Clark back to his natural position if an injury occurred. Doing this would mean that Green Bay would have to start Karl Brooks or Colby Wooden if something were to happen to Slaton.


Green Bay has Preston Smith starting at 3-4 right outside linebacker with Rashan Gary starting at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Green Bay has D'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker as their two starters at 3-4 middle linebacker. Lukas Van Ness, Green Bay's 2023 first round pick is still a situational edge rusher this season.


Green Bay has Jaire Alexander as their field cornerback as the Green Bay Packers 2018 first round pick out of Louisville is still the teams top cornerback, but after playing in the first two weeks, he will miss his first game of the regular season in week 3. Jaire Alexander also missed week 4 along with Eric Stokes, but Jaire Alexander returned for Monday Night football in week 5. Jaire Alexander got injured again in week 8 and was out in week 9. Jaire Alexander did not practice on Wednesday and Thursday heading into week 10. Jare missed time down the stretch again. There were four different occassions where Jaire Alexander dealt with injuries this year. Jaire Alexander hurt his ankle on a play where he accidentally stepped on a teammates foot. Whenever Jaire faces a fully healthy superstar wide receiver with no injuries. he usually gets torched. Amon Ra-St. Brown in week 18 of the 2022 season was on example of this.


Green Bay Packers 2023 seventh round pick Carrington Valentine was a guy that I liked coming out of Kentucky and the reason Green Bay traded Rasul Douglas to the Buffalo Bills for a 2024 third round pick was because he really impressed Green Bay as a rookie. Eric Stokes is out for the year.


Green Bay has Keisean Nixon at nickel cornerback as he was a team captain during the coin toss getting a higher leadership role than Jaire Alexander the best cornerback on the team. Corey Ballentine is the dime cornerback. Robert Rochelle is the quarter cornerback.


Green Bay put Rudy Ford on injured reserve prior to week 18. This means Jonathan Owens, the husband of women's track star Simone Biles gets the start at strong safety. Darnell Savage came back rom his injury recently. He will play at free safety.


Anders Carlson the younger brother of Daniel Carlson replaces Mason Crosby as Green Bay drafted Auburn's kicker in the 2023 NFL Draft. Pat O'Donnell is the punter. I'm curious who plays kick returner and punt returner for Green Bay in week 15 with Eric Stokes back in the lineup.


Why the Dallas Cowboys Will Win: Dak Prescott has Tyron Smith at left tackle, Tyler Smith at left guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Zack Martin at right guard, and Terence Steele at right tackle. Both Tyron Smith and Zack Martin didn't practice this week, but both are resting and are not practicing due to non related injuries. Both players had their pads on in practice when warming up, and I believe both will play unless one gets ruled out until Sunday.


Having weapons like CeeDee Lamb as your flanker wide receiver and Brandin Cooks as your secondary wide receiver helps since Dak Prescott has two wide receivers who have experience as a number one wide receiver. Michael Gallup is the slot receiver when Dallas runs three wide receiver sets. Jalen Tolbert has made a lot more progress after hardly seeing the field as a rookie with an impressive preseason making him the number four target. KaVontae Turpin is the number five wide receiver. Jalen Brooks a 2023 seventh round pick out of South Carolina is the number six wide receiver. Dallas has six wide receivers on this depth chart with the upside to be good and has enough starters and backup options at wide receiver when Brian Schottenheimer calls three wide receiver sets as the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator.


Tight end Jake Ferguson is now the starting tight end replacing Dalton Schultz who left in Free Agency after Ferguson did enough as a number two tight end during his rookie season. Luke Schoonmaker a 2023 second round pick out of Michigan won the backup tight end job. Peyton Hendershot was a reliable third string tight end last year and retains that role in Dallas. With Rudy Ford injured at strong safety, I can see these tight ends being just as dominant as CeeDee Lamb.


Dallas has Tony Pollard as their starting running back after Pollard outperformed Ezekiel Elliott the last two seasons in a number two running back role. Rico Dowdle is the backup running back. Dallas drafted Kansas State runing back Deuce Vaughn in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Kansas State. Deuce Vaughn did not practice this week. Dallas also has Ronald Jones as a fourth string running back even though he's currently suspended. Dallas has incredible depth at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end which is why I feel like the sky is the limit for the Dallas Cowboys offense as long as the offensive line stays healthy.


Dallas is moving Micah Parsons from 4-3 right outside linebacker to a LEO role at 4-3 right end and DeMarcus Lawrence remains at 4-3 left end. Dallas now has two different sack artists at edge rusher. Dallas has Dorance Armstrong Jr. last years starter at 4-3 right end as the backup 4-3 right end in a role that suits him much better with Sam Williams a 2022 third round pick out of Ole Miss as the backup 4-3 left end to Demarcus Lawrence.


Dallas has Jonathan Hankins and Osa Odighizuwa as their starting 4-3 defensive tackles with Jonathan Hankins set to return this week. Dallas also has Mazi Smith a 2023 first round pick out of Michigan and Chauncey Gholston a 2021 third round pick as the backup 4-3 defensive tackles. Neville Gallimore is now a third string 4-3 defensive tackle.


Dallas is starting Markquese Bell at 4-3 right outside linebacker and right outside linebaacker in a 4-2-5 nickel defense thanks to DeMarvion Overshown their 2023 third round pick out of Texas suffered a season ending injury in training camp. Damone Clark their 2022 fifth round pick out of LSU at 4-3 middle linebacker and 4-2-5 middle linebacker in a nickel defense due to Leighton Vander Esch suffering a season ending injury.


Dallas has DaRon Bland starting at field cornerback in relief of Trevon Diggs whose out for the year. Dallas traded for Stephon Gilmore to be the boundary cornerback. Jourdan Lewis has recovered from his injury and depression after taking a personal leave from the team earlier this offseason meaning Lewis will be back at nickel cornerback. Dallas has Noah Igbinoghene at dime cornerback in dime packages with four cornerback sets. Noah Igbinoghene was a 2020 first round pick out of Auburn drafted by the Miami Dolphins that Dallas got by trading Kelvin Joseph their 2021 second round pick to the Miami Dolphins. Nashon Wright, the Dallas Cowboys 2021 third round pick out of Oregon State is the quarter cornerback with Dallas still posting incredible depth at cornerback.


Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson are the starting safeties with both safeties having the versatility to play strong safety or free safety. Jayron Kearse remains the number three safety on this depth chart, but started with Donovan Wilson out due to an injury. Juanyeh Thomas is the number four safety on this depth chart taking that role from Isreal Mukuamu a 2021 sixth round pick out of South Carolina is converted from cornerback to safety after playing cornerback in the SEC and is now the number five safety on this depth chart.


Brandon Aubrey has been fantastic at kicker for Dallas this year. He hasn't missed a field goal attempt all season. Bryan Anger is the punter. KaVontae Turpin is the return specialist at kick returnter and punt returner for Dallas.


Ron Torbert is officiating this game. Even though Green Bay has done better than Dallas with Torbert, and Dallas is the third most penalized team, that may not matter. In 10 Green Bay Packers games that Ron Torbert's called, Green Bay has averaged 8 penalties per game allowing 470 total yards in those ten games officiated by Torbert. If the NFL is hell bent on Dallas winning this week, Ron Torbert can screw Green Bay over at the end. I don't trust Torbert after Super Bowl 56 and last years AFC Championship.


Prediction: Dallas is a 7 point favorite at -7. The over or under is 50.5 with 60% of the public betting on Dallas. The money line is +275 for Green Bay and -330 for Dallas. Take Dallas to win and cover with the over at -330. Bet $370 on this game for Dallas and win up to $700 as long as the Cowboys win by 8 or more.


Final Score Cowboys 35 Packers 27





Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless


6. Los Angeles Rams 10-7-0
Versus
3. Detroit Lions 12-5-0


Chris Ransom's Pick






Jake Ellenbogen is one of the better Rams insiders on Youtube. We had him on the podcast. I usually only promote one of his shows a week during the Rams section for games on the site, but this week I decided to make an exception with Jake and Cameron Lynch interviewing Eric Dickerson on his show earlier in the week before he and his co host Alexis Kraft previewed Stafford's return to Detroit. Both of those videos have been embedded, but make sure to like and subscribe to Jake's content if you click away from our site.


Why the Los Angeles Rams Will Win: Matthew Stafford is back from his injury and only missed one game in 2023. Los Angeles has Alaric Jackson left tackle who kept Myles Garrett in check while also keeping Garrett from having any tackles for the first time in his career, Steve Avila their 2023 second round pick out of TCU at left guard, Brian Allen at center, Kevin Dotson is the starting right guard, and Rob Havenstein is starting at right tackle. Kevin Dotson is the only starter among this five questionable for Sunday at the moment.


Joseph Noteboom lost the left tackle job to Alaric Jackson following his injury, but can be the swing tackle as long as he's healthy. Joseph Noteboom hasn't practiced this week. Coleman Shelton is the backup center after starting some down the stretch. Tremayne Anchrum beganthe season as the starting right guard, but now he's the backup right guard. Warren McClendon Jr. the starting right tackle at Georgia last year was the Los Angeles Rams 2023 fifth round pick and is the Ramss backup right tackle.


Los Angeles has Cooper Kupp as their flanker number one wide receiver. Puka Nacua is the secondary wide receiver. Demarcus Robinson came in and took the number hree wide receiver job from Tutu Atwell who began the year n the slot. Tutu Atwell is the number four wide receiver. Ben Skowronek was huge in Super Bowl 56 and will be the number five wide receiver. Austin Trammell is the number six wide receiver and final backup wide receiver.


The Los Angeles Rams have amazing depth at tight end too. Tyler Higbee is still the starting tight end on this team and has maintained his job as the starting tight end all the way back to 2017 after being drafted out of Western Kentucky in the 2016 NFL Draft. Brycen Hopkins is the backup tight end to Higbee as the 2020 third round pick out of Purdue that I interviewed at the 2020 Reese's Senior Bowl enters his contract year. Davis Allen, a 2023 fifth round pick out of Clemson took over as the third string tight end once Hunter Long got placed on season ending injured reserve.


Los Angeles has Kyren Williams as their starting running back. Ronnie Rivers is the backup running back. Royce Freeman is the third string running back. Zach Evans, the Los Angeles Rams 2023 sixth round pick out of Ole Miss still made this roster initially as the fourth string running back.


The Rams have a lot more depth at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line compared to a season ago when injuries began to pile up. The Los Angeles Rams have been arguably the healthiest team in the NFC the past month of their season which is a big reason they got hot at the right time.


Los Angeles has Aaron Donald back at 3-4 right end. Bobby Brown III a 2021 fourth round pick out of Texas A&M as the starting nose tackle had had his moments. Kobie Turner a 2023 third round pick out of Wake Forest that was at the 2023 East West Shrine Bowl will be starting next to Aaron Donald at 3-4 left end. At the beginning of the year.


Los Angeles switched things up in week 18 with Aaron Donald at 3-4 right end, Kobie Tuner at 3-4 nose tackle, Jonah Williams at 3-4 left end, Larrell Murchison remained the backup 3-4 right end, Bobby Brown III was the backup 3-4 nose tackle, and Desjuan Johnson the Mr. Irrelevant pick from Toledo in the 2023 NFL Draft is the backup 3-4 left end. This has been the starting lineup for the last few games and that's worked. It feels like the Los Angeles Rams have just as many bodies on this 3-4 defensive line as the Rams did two years ago when winning Super Bowl 56.


Los Angeles will have Michael Hoecht at 3-4 right outside linebacker and Byron Young a 2023 third round pick out of Tennessee starting at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Hoecht had 5 quarterback hurries against Arizona in week 6 and Byron Young has continued to get better each week. Ernest Jones a 2021 third round pick out of South Carolina and Christian Rozeboom are the two starters at 3-4 middle linebacker. The one depth player I like is Nick Hampton a 2023 fifth round pick out of Appalachian State the backup 3-4 right outside linebacker while Ochaun Mathis a 2023 sixth round pick out of Nebraska is the 3-4 left outside linebacker. The Los Angeles Rams have depth and bodies at pass rusher at the moment as well.


Los Angeles has Decobie Durant at field cornerback, Ahkello Witherspoon at boundary cornerback, Derion Kendrick at nickel cornerback, Quentin Lake has moved from backup safety to dime cornerback, and Duke Shelley is the quarter cornerback. Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson a 2023 sixth round pick out of TCU went from being a dark horse candidate to o win the nickel cornerback job in training camp to being the number six cornerback on this depth chart.


John Johnson III will start at strong safety with Jordan Fuller at free safety. Russ Yeast the Los Angeles Rams 2022 seventh round pick out of TCU is the number three safety. Jason Taylor II, was drafted in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft before the Rams took Desjuan Johnson and Jason Taylor II is now the number four safety. Jordan Fuller didn't practice of the first two days this week, but he's been ruled questionable rather than inactive for Sundays wild card game against the Detroit Lions.


Los Angeles has Brett Maher back at kicker. Los Angeles cut Maher earlier in the season, but managed to bring him back. Ethan Evans, the Los Angeles Rams 2023 seventh round pick out of Wingate is the Los Angeles Rams starting punter.


Why the Detroit Lions Will Win: Quarterback Jared Goff has a stronger offensive line than last year. He's got Taylor Decker back at left tackle, Jonah Jackson at left guard, Frank Ragnow at center, Graham Glasgow at right guard, and Penei Sewell at right tackle. Graham Glasgow impressed Detroit enough to take the starting right guard spot from Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Detroit has had the offensive line back at full health for a few weeks following Frank Ragnow's return. A lot of Detroit's depth players on the offensive line like Matt Nelson the backup left tackle and Halapoulivaati Vaitai have been on injured reserve. Dan Skipper took over at swing tackle after Matt Nelson got placed on injured reserve with Colby Sorsdal taking over at swing guard after Vaitai got placed on injured reserve again.


Jared Goff has Amon-Ra St. Brown as his flanker wide receiver, Jameson Williams is back from his injury as the secondary wide receiver, and Josh Reynolds is the slot receiver. Detroit has Donovan Peoples-Jones, Kalif Raymond, and Antoine Green their 2023 seventh round pick out of North Carolina as the backup receivers for depth. Josh Reynolds, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Kalif Raymond have all kept pushing each other for that slot receiver spot next to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jameson Williams with each receiver pushing each other for playing time when Williams was out with a injury in week 18. Kalif Raymond already got ruled out after getting injured in week 18 so that means Josh Reynolds and Donovan Peoples-Jones will split reps in three wide receiver sets.


Sam LaPorta the 2023 second round pick out of Iowa is the starting tight end, Brock Wright is the backup tight end, and James Mitchell is the third string tight end. Sam LaPorta got injured in week 18 and missed two days of practice, but got ruled questionable rather than inactive. Both Brock Wright and James Mitchell practiced in a limited capacity despite dealing with injuries. James Mitchell already got ruled out with a injury. If Sam LaPorta ges ruled inactive, Detroit will only have one of three tight ends and will not be able to run twelve personnel with multiple tight ends which is something head coach Dan Campbell and offensive coordinator Ben Johnson love to do to keep opposing defenses on their toes.


David Montgomery is the Detroit Lions starting running back, but Jahmyr Gibbs started in week 3 when Montgomery was out with an injury before Montgomery returned in week 4. Both David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are capable of starting honestly since Montgomery is listed as the Lions starter on their team website, but Gibbs is listed as the starter on Ourlads heading into the wild card game this weekend. Craig Reynolds is the third string running back behind Montgomery and Gibbs. Jason Cabinda is the starting fullback, but he's on injured reserve. Jason Cabinda did return to practice in a limited capacity despite still being on injured reserve, but he's desginated to be activated off of injured reserve. Detroit moved Cabinda to their practice squad.


Detroit will have Aidan Hutchinson at 4-3 right end and Josh Pascal at 4-3 left end just like last year when both of Detroit's 2022 draft picks were healthy. Romeo Okwara and John Cominsky are the backup 4-3 defensive ends with Okwara as a backup to Aidan Huchinson at 4-3 right end with Cominsky as a rotational edge rusher complimenting Pascal as a backup 4-3 left end, but the thing with Cominsky is he did start the majority of games for Detroit in 2023. Charles Harris is a third string 4-3 defensive end.


Detroit got their top two 4-3 defensive tackles with Alim McNeil and Benito Jones has started at 4-3 defensive tackle in relief of Alim McNeil now as the two starters at 4-3 defensive tackle after releasing Isaiah Buggs. Detroit also has Levi Onwuzurike and Broderic Martin Detroit's 2023 third round pick out of Western Kentucky as backup 4-3 defensive tackles until Alim McNeil returns. Alim McNeil got injured on Thanksgiving and he will be on injured reserve for one more week minimum and two more weeks maximum. The good news for Detroit Lions fans is he will be back for the playoffs.


Alex Anzalone is moving from 4-3 right outside linebacker to play the WILL on the weakside after playing 4-3 middle linebacker at the MIKE. Derrick Barnes has moved to 4-3 middle linebacker at the MIKE. Jack Campbell Detroit's 2023 first round pick out of Iowa began the year at 4-3 middle linebacker, but moved to 4-3 left outside linebacker at the SAM after cooling off following a hot start. Jalen Reeves-Maybin is the backup 4-3 right outside linebacker to Alex Anzalone, but is also the number four linebacker behind Anzalone, Barnes, and Campbell in a 4-2-5 nickel defense. Malcolm Rodriguez is the backup 4-3 middle outside linebacker to Derrick Barnes in a 4-3 defense if Jack Campbell stays at 4-3 left outside linebacker during the game. It is also possible that Detroit considers moving Campbell inside and using Malcolm Rodriguez on the outside in that scenario.


Detroit currently has Cameron Sutton at field cornerback, Kindle Vildor is filling in for a injured Jerry Jacobs at boundary cornerback, Brian Branch as their nickel cornerback, Will Harris at dime cornerback, and Steven Gilmore the younger brother of Stephon Gilmore who was an undrafted Free Agent out of Marshall beat out Chase Lucas for the quarter cornerback job. Detroit has Khalil Dorsey as the number six cornerback ahead of Chase Lucas whose now on the practice squad. Detroit also has C.J. Gardner-Johnson back at strong safety and Kirby Joseph at free safety with Ifeatu Melifonwu as the backup strong safety and Tracy Walker III as the backup free safety. Detroit's safety depth is better than their cornerback depth after cornerback depth was the strength for Detroit during the entire regular season.


Michael Badgley is Detroit's kicker now as he replaces Riley Patterson. I don't agree with Detroit's decision to cut Riley Patterson to be honest. Jack Fox is punter. Khalil Dorsey, whose been the backup return specialist on Detroit behind Kalif Raymond is now the kick returner and punt returner. Khalil Dorsey has 0 return yards in two starts with every one of his returns on kickoffs being a touchback. Dorsey has mainly been used as a kick returner and has zero experience at punt returner.


Craig Wrolstad is the referee in this game. I honeslty think the Lions win the turnover battle against the Rams, but get penalized more. Most people have Stafford throwing for 353 yards 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. I think Stafford ends up with 2 touchdowns and 2 picks. Jared Goff ends up with just over 300 total yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and coughs up a fumble at the endd of the game thanks to a Aaron Donald strip sack where Kobie Turner has a game-winning fumble recovery. I could also see Goff having 0 turnovers and losing as well with Detroit having an inexperienced punt returner start his first game at punt returner in a playoff game.


Prediction: Detroit is a 3 point favorite at -3. The over or under is 52 with 52% of the public betting on Detroit. The money line is +145 for Los Angeles and -165 for Detroit. I like Los Angeles to win and to cover with the over at +145. Bet $155 on this game for Los Angeles and win up to $300 as long as the Lions win by 2 points or less.


Final Score Rams 34 Lions 28






Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless



7. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-7-0
Versus
2. Buffalo Bills 11-6-0


Chris Ransom's Pick


Draft Utopia airs on Talkshoe and Spotify now. We have a show on Spotify with Oren and myself that airs sometimes as well as our usual weekend show on Talkshoe and Restream which livestreams what I do on Talkshoe to Youtube showcasing the visuals I use when breaking down things on my podcast. The Draft Utopia podcast is already underway with the first batch episodes of season 13 on Talkshoe while our podcast on is also on Restream with the newest Restream episodes embedded to Youtube like the newest episode where Joey and I did the 2024 NFL Draft Simulator. I've also created a playlist just for NFL Draft content as well as a playlist for previously aired Draft Streams.










Why the Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett is out the next two to four weeks. Mitchell Trubisky got benched in week 15 with Mason Rudolph coming in. Mason Rudolph will start in week 16 and as crazy as this sounds, I liked Mason Rudolph coming out of college more than I liked Jake Browning. Mason Rudolph will start in week 17 even though Kenny Pickett is healthy enough to play by practicing in a limited capacity. Pittsburgh fixed their offensive line and will have Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle, Isaac Seumalo at left guard, Mason Cole at center, James Daniels at right guard, and Broderick Jones, Pittsburgh's 2023 first round pick at right tackle. Isaac Seumalo missed the last few weeks, but Pittsburgh should have their offensive line at full health for the first time since week 12.


Spencer Anderson is the backup left guard and backup center to start the season thanks to Pittsburgh trading away backup left guard Kevin Dotson to the Los Angeles Rams and third string offensive lineman Kendrick Green to the Houston Texans, Nate Herbig is the backup right guard. Chukwuma Okorafor is now the backup right tackle.


Mason Rudolph has George Pickens as their flanker receiver thanks to Diontae Johnson's injury, but I've preferred Pickens over Johnson the last two years. Diontae Johnson is back from his injury, but is now the secondary wide receiver instead of being the number one target. Allen Robinson, who Pittsburgh traded for now goes from secondary wide receiver to slot receiver with Diontae Johnson back. Pittsburgh has Calvin Austin III as their number four wide receiver. Miles Boykin is the backup wide receiver on this depth chart. Pittsburgh will have all six wide receivers at full health for the first time since week 1 in week 7 following Pittsburgh's bye week. Pittsburgh's receivers have stayed healthy from week 7 to the start of the playoffs.


Pittsburgh has Pat Freiermuth as their starting tight end and Darnell Washington as their third string tight end. Darnell Washington ended the draft process as my second best tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft. Connor Heyward is Pittsburgh's starting fullback, yet he's also listed as a tight end on Pittsburgh's depth chart when Pittsburgh doesn't want to deploy a fullback. Pat Freiermuth didn't practice leading up to week 5, so Darnell Washington made his first NFL start. Pat Freiermuth got placed on injured reserve prior to week 7 meaning Darnell Washington will start the next four games. Darnell Washington has a window of opportunity to assert himself as a regular and so far through two starts in week 5 and week 7, hasn't ceased that moment yet.


Pittsburgh has Najee Harris as the starting running back and Jaylen Warren as the backup running back. Jaylen Warren has outplayed Najee Harris despite getting fewer touches. Both of Pittsburgh's top two running backs are fully healthy.


Pittsburgh has their deepest team on offense since the Steelers went to their three Super Bowls in Super Bowl 40, Super Bowl 43, and Super Bowl 45. The problem is quarterbacks on this team didn't enter the NFL having the same impact as Ben Roethlisberger, who set the bar sky high going undefeated as a rookie before losing to New England in the AFC Title game before helping the Steelers win Super Bowl 40 as the six seed the following year.


Pittsburgh activated Cameron Heyward off of injured reserve at 3-4 right end, so he will be starting for Pittsburgh in week 9 at 3-4 right end for the first time since week 1. Keeanu Benton, Pittsburgh's 2023 second round pick out of Wisconsin has continued to dominate at 3-4 nose tackle as a rookie giving Pittsburgh their best nose tackle since Casey Hampton coming out of Texas. Larry Ogunjobi remains the starting 3-4 left end. Isaiah Loudermilk is the backup 3-4 right end. Montravius Adams who started at nose tackle last season, has been demoted to second string after Pittsburgh's 2023 second round pick out of Wisconsin wowed the organization and won the starting 3-4 nose tackle job. DeMarvin Leal is the backup 3-4 left end to Larry Ogunjobi. Pittsburgh has a ton of depth on their defensive line this season. Pittsburgh will have one of the leagues best defensive lines as long as Cameron Heyward remains healthy leading this core of defensive linemen. Montravius Adams missed the last two games, but should be back as a backup 3-4 nose tackle to Keeanu Benton in week 13.


Pittsburgh has a top 5 edge rusher duo in the league with Alex Highsmith at 3-4 right outside linebacker and T.J. Watt at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Highsmith led the Steelers in sacks in 2022 after T.J. Watt got injured with Watt winning 2021 NFL Defensive Player Of The Year prior to his injury in 2022. Highsmith is making $17.01 million a year while Watt is making over $28 million a season with Pittsburgh's two starting edge rushers making over $45-million dollars combined. Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts both looked good enough to replace Myles Jack and Robert Spillane at 3-4 middle linebacker in Pittsburgh's preseason win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pittsburgh has Nick Herbig a sack artist at Wisconsin and the younger brother to Nate Herbig as their backup 3-4 right outside linebacker after being Pittsburgh's 2023 fourth round pick out of Wisconsin. Pittsburgh also added Markus Golden the starting pass rusher on the Arizona Cardinals as the backup 3-4 left outside linebacker to T.J. Watt. T.J. Watt got injured against Arizona, but got cleared to return to the game. T.J. Watt got injured in Baltimore and is out for the wild card round. Pittsburgh won't have their best defensive player against a Buffalo Bills team that has had zero injuries on the offensive line all season.


Pittsburgh's has two of their top three 3-4 middle linebackers Cole Holcolmb and Kwon Alexander out for the year. Pittsburgh has Elandon Roberts at 3-4 middle linebacker and Mykal Walker.


Joey Porter Jr., Pittsburgh's 2023 second round pick has emerged as the number one field cornerback as the rookie from my old High School North Allegheny has dominated in year one with the Pittsburgh Steelers. There's a reason Joey Porter's son is the field cornerback on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Patrick Peterson is the boundary cornerback. Levi Wallace is the nickel cornerback. Chandon Sullivan is the dime cornerback and Pittsburgh and James Pierre is the quarter cornerback.


Corey Trice, Pittsburgh's 2023 seventh round who some mocked in the top 100 suffering a season ending injury. Joey Porter Jr. probably has the highest ceiling of all the cornerbacks on Pittsburgh's depth chart.


Pittsburgh has Damontae Kazee at strong safety and Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety with both safeties fully healthy. Pittsburgh's backup safeties are dealing with injuries, but the two best safeties are healthy enough to play.


Pittsburgh has Chris Boswell at kicker and Pressley Harvin III the 2020 Ray Guy Award winner as their 2021 seventh round pick. Calvin Austin III, Pittsburgh's 2022 fourth round pick is expected to play kick returner and punt returner for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023 after missing his rookie season with a season ending injury simply due to Pittsburgh's depth at wide receiver.


Why the Buffalo Bills Will Win: Josh Allen is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Josh Allen has a great offensive line with Dion Dawkins at left tackle, Connor McGovern at left guard, Mitch Morse at center, O'Cyrus Torrence at right guard. and Spencer Brown at right tackle. Spencer Brown looked worse in 2023 on Monday Night Football in week 1, but he's looked a lot better since then. Brown showed promise as a rookie, but had a sophomore slump in 2022 and kept missing assignments against second team defensive linemen on the New York Jets in week 1. He's improved throughout the season, but not enough to warrant a contract extension. Tommy Doyle, Buffalo's backup left tackle is on injured reserve, so Buffalo doesn't have any depth at left tackle if something happens to Dion Dawkins. David Edwards is a good backup left guard. Ryan Bates started at right guard last year, but will now be both the backup center and backup right guard. Germain Ifedi is now the backup right tackle to Spencer Brown.


Buffalo has Stefon Diggs as their flanker wide receiver. Gabriel Davis remains the number two wide receiver. Khalil Shakir, last years slot receiver has shown he can be the number two receiver when Gabriel Davis is injured. Trent Sherfield is the number four wide receiver. Deonte Hardy is the number five wide receiver on this depth chart. It feels like Buffalo is thinner at wide receiver compared to a season ago. There's still a ton of depth at wide receiver in Buffalo.


Gabriel Davis didn't practice for the second day in a row. I think Khalil Shakir can be the number two guy next to Stefon Diggs if Davis is ruled out with a injury in the wild card round. I also believe Buffalo can mix things up more offensively in terms of personnel without Davis in the lineup since they can play a formation with James Cook and fullback Reggie Gilliam. Buffalo can also rotate Sherfield and Hardy in the slot. Buffalo can also play 12-personnel calling two tight end sets with both rookie Dalton Kincaid and veteran tight end Dawson Knox.


Dalton Kincaid started over Dawson Knox in week 18. Both of Buffalo's tight ends are good enough to be starters on any other NFL team. If Gabriel Davis is ruled out, I can definitely see Buffalo using two tight ends this week against Pittsburgh. Espeically in this weather with the albatross of snow in Buffalo because those tight ends can be extra blockers in the snow for the running game or those tight ends can make an impact if Joe Brady shuffles some play action passes into the teams playbook this week.


Buffalo has James Cook as the starting running back taking over for Devin Singletary. Ty Johnson is a good number two running back to compliment James Cook. Latavius Murray is the third string running back. Buffalo still has depth at running back despite injuries to Damien Harris and Nyheim Hines. Reggie Gilliam is back as the starting fullback.


Buffalo started Gregory Rosseau at 4-3 right end and Leonard Floyd at 4-3 left end with Ed Oliver at 4-3 defensive tackle and DaQuan Jones as the other starting 4-3 defensive tackle after Jordan Phillips went on injured reserve back in week 16 in their week 18 win over the Miami Dolphins. Buffalo has A.J. Epenesa as the backup 4-3 right end and Shaq Lawson as the backup 4-3 left end. Buffalo also has Poona Ford and Tim Settle as backup 4-3 defensive tackles while Jordan Phillips is on injured reserve. Buffalo has Von Miller as their third string 4-3 defensive end despite the fact he's their highest paid player and Linval Joseph is currently the Buffalo Bills third string 4-3 defensive tackle.


Buffalo has Tyrel Dodson whose sixth among linebackers on Pro Football Focus as their starting at right outside linebacker in both a 4-3 and 4-2-5 nickel defense. Buffalo has Terrell Bernard starting at middle linebacker in both a 4-3 and 4-2-5 nickel defense. Dorian Williams 2023 third round pick is the backup 4-2-5 right outside linebacker and the backup 4-3 middle linebacker, but he's also the 4-3 left outside linebacker when Buffalo uses a 4-3 defense. Buffalo mainly operates a nickel defense though.


Buffalo is moving Christian Benford to field cornerback covering number one wide receivers with Tre'Davious White out for the year, but it is worth pointing out that Benford's missed some games. Benford is fully healthy for the playoffs though. Rasul Douglas took over at boundary cornerback, but he got injured in week 18. If Rasul Douglas is ruled inacive, former Pittsburgh Panthers cornerback Dane Jackson, would play at boundary cornerback next to Christian Benford while Taron Johnson remains at nickel cornerback. Taron Johnson at nickel cornerback covering slot receivers in nickel packages. Dane Jackson will play dime cornerback if Rasul Douglas plays, but if Douglas is inactive, he gets promoted to number two cornerback and Kaiir Elam would be the new dime cornerback as Buffalo's 2022 first round pick would play situationally if Pittsburgh called a hail mary pass near the end of the game. Cam Lewis has jumped Siran Neal as the quarter cornerback in the event that Rasul Douglas is out and would be the backup nickel cornerback behind Taron Johnson after jumping longtime backup nickel cornerback Siran Neal.


Buffalo has Jordan Poyer at strong safety and Micah Hyde at free safety. Taylor Rapp is the backup strong safety while Damar Hamlin is the backup free safety. Damar Hamlin started at strong safety next to Micah Hyde in week 4 when Poyer was out. It sounds like Taylor Rapp could miss this game after getting injured in week 18, but I trust the depth Buffalo has at safety right now. I also think Buffalo will be fine at safety as long as both Poyer an Hyde are healthy enough to play.


Buffalo has Tyler Bass at kicker. Deonte Hardy is the kick returner and punt returner for the Buffalo Bills this season.


Carl Cheffers is the referee this week. He was the referee in Buffalo's loss to Cincinnati last year. I doubt this matters in the grand scheme of things since Buffalo will be just as cold as Kansas City with wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. Also with T.J. Watt out for Pittsburgh, Buffalo feels like a shoe in to win. If Pittsburgh drew Kansas City or Houston maybe they'd have a better chance, but Pittsburgh is playing the only AFC team that kept all five starters on the offensive line fully healthy all season. The best case scenario for Pittsburgh is Mason Rudolph gets 300 total yards and has no turnovers while Josh Allen has 2-5 turnovers and the Steelers find a way to lose this game by single digits because Josh Allen is just that freaking good even when he has just as many turnovers as touchdowns. Allen had double the passing yards Tua Tagovailoa had even with 2 interceptions, 1 fumble lost, and the clock running out before halftime.


Prediction: Buffalo is a 10 point favorite at -10. The over or under is 33.5 with 53% of the public betting on Buffalo. The money line is +425 for Pittsburgh and -550 for Buffalo. Take Buffalo to win and cover with the over at -550. Bet $650 on this game for Buffalo and win up to $1,200 as long as the Bills win by 11 points or more.


Final Score Bills 28 Steelers 7





Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless



5. Philadelphia Eagles 11-6-0
Versus
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-8-0


Chris Ransom's Pick


I just cannot stand ESPN's Monday Night Football Coverage. Monday Night Football On KDKA is back with Bob Pompieni, Mark Madden, Andrew Filiponi, and newcommer Rich Walsh. Tonight the gang is in Tampa Bay.


Pompieni: Welcome to Monday Night Football. Bob Pompieni along with Mark Madden and Andrew Filiponi covering ESPN Monday Night Football on KDKA from Tampa Bay. We're at Raymond James Stadium the site of the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl 43 victory fifteen years ago. It's wild card week Jalen Hurts faces Baker Mayfield. Who do you guys like?

Madden: As a Yinzer all I can say is fuck Baker Mayfield. That asshole dropped 28 points on the Steelers in the first quarter at Heinz Field.

Filiponi: Baker's no longer on the Browns. Who cares? Tampa Bay is gonna win this game due to the Eagles injuries and shitty play down the stretch.

Madden: At least I didn't make up a weather report. I mean you pretty much lied to Bills Mafia about the game getting moved to Cleveland for clicks. That's a bitch move Poni.

Walsh: Yeah, I'm gonna have to agree with Madden. I don't like agreeing with Madden and his foul potty mouth Bob. You lying about the weather is the equivalent of Chris Mueller, the replacement to Ron Cook blocking random people on Twitter that don't happen to be Pittsburgh Sports fans or homers in Pittsburgh.

Pompieni: True, Rich Walsh. I heard Mueller has a zero tolerance policy on people that aren't Yinzers. I'm in agreement with Madden and am taking the Eagles. Fly Eagles Fly.

Filiponi: Guys, if you disrespect Mueller again, I'm letting Bills Mafia into our press box to torture all of you guys. You're being bigger assholes to my co host on 93.7 than Ken Carman.

Madden: Maybe Poni is cheating on his wife and having a secret affair with Carman. That explains why he tried to get the game moved to Cleveland.

Pompieni: Alright tonights game is brought to you by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are more exciting than this Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that barely won the NFC South.

Madden: Tonights game is brought to you by a Tampa Bay Animal shelter. This game makes me think of puppies. Dogs are not masculine, dogs are feminine. I can't be thinking about dogs during the game.

Walsh: Some dog breeds like Pitbulls, labrodor retreivers, and German Shepherds are masculine. Other breeds like Corgi's, Chihuahua's, and little tiny puppies are feminine if not one of the three breeds above. Pugs are also feminine.

Filiponi: There's also beagles. Beagles can be masculine or feminine dogs depending on whether you neuter them. Obviously, beagles that aren't neuetred are more masculine regardless of their genitals.

Pompieni: If you guys don't can it you're all going to a kennel. We missed a kickoff return for a touchdown because of your horse shit animal kennel sponsor Madden. I can't even promote the sponsors now. The extra point is blocked. We'll be back with the next kickoff after this.



Why the Philadelphia Eagles Will Win: Philadelphia has Jalen Hurts at quarterback. Philadelphia has Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Cam Jurgens at right guard, and Lane Johnson at right tackle. Philadelphia's offensive line returned to full health in week 17 against Arizona and remained fully healthy in week 18.


Philadelphia didn't have DeVonta Smith at wide receiver in week 18 and it looks like A.J. Brown could be out for the wild card game despite Smith being a full practice this week because A.J. Brown didn't practice all week after suffering a injury in week 18. A.J. Brown also unfollowed the Eagles on social media before the game, but I'm not putting nearly as much stock into that as his health. Julio Jons is projected to start at slot receiver. Olamide Zaccheaus the number four receiver on this depth chart will start in relief of A.J. Brown if he's ruled inactive after starting in relief of DeVonta Smith in week 18. Quez Watkins began the year as the slot receiver, but now he's fifth among the six wide receivers on Philadelphia's depth chart. Britain Covey, a undrafted wide receiver is the sixth and final backup wide receiver on this depth chart.


Philadelphia has Dallas Goedert at tight end. Philadelphia had limitations in the passing game when Goedert was injured.


Philadelphia has four different running backs. Those four running backs are D'Andre Swift as the starting running back, Kenneth Gainwell as the third down running back, Boston Scott is the third string running back, and Rashaad Penny is the fourth string running back. Philadelphia may be deeper at running back this season despite losing last years starting running back Miles Sanders.


Philadelphia has Josh Sweat at 4-3 right end, Fletcher Cox at 4-3 defensive tackle, Jordan Davis their 2022 first round pick at 4-3 defensive tackle, and Brandon Graham at 4-3 left end. Jalen Carter their 2023 first round pick out of Georgia started next to Fletcher Cox most of the year, but with Fletcher Cox returning from a injury in week 18, Philadelphia may end up starting Jordan Davis whose been a liability all season in his second year over Jalen Carter in the wild card round. Milton Williams, Philadelphia's 2021 third round pick is now the number four defensive tackle on this depth chart with Moro Ojomo their 2023 seventh roudn pick as the number five 4-3 defensive tackle. Philadelphia has a lot of depth at defensive tackle, but not as much as last year while Philadelphia just doesn't have a situational pass rusher off of the edge after releasing Derek Barnett and moving Nolan Smith to outside linebacker.


Philadelphia didn't have Fletcher Cox in week 5, but will get Cox back for week 6 after Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter started next to each other. Jordan Davis will get another start with Jalen Carter being ruled out in week 6 against the New York Jets. Jalen Carter will be back in week 7. Jalen Carter missed week 8 along with Jordan Davis, but both guys look like they will be healthy in week 9. Fletcher Cox got injured in week 12 against Buffalo. Fletcher Cox is expected to be out in week 13.


Philadelphia has Zach Cunningham at 4-3 right outside linebacker, Nicholas Morros at 4-3 middle linebacker, and Haason Reddick at 4-3 left outside inebacker. Shaquille Loeanrd is the backup 4-3 middle linebacker and Nolan Smith, Philadelphia's 2023 first round pick is the backup 4-3 left outside linebacker.


Philadelphia has Darius Slay at field cornerback, James Bradberry at boundary cornerback, and Avonte Maddox at nickel cornerback for the first time all season in week 18. Kelee Ringo is the dime cornerback. Josh Jobe is the quarter cornerback. Bradley Roby is the number six cornerback.


Philadelphia has Kevin Byard at strong safety. Both of Philadelphia's free safeties Reed Blankenship and Sydney Brown, their 2023 third round pick didn't practice this week. Philadelphia only has three safeties on their depth chart and three are injured. The two safeties on their practice squad are Josiah Scott and Mekhi Garner who are both cornerbacks. The only two free agents at safety on the market are Landon Collins and Lamarcus Joyner and Howie Roseman hasn't made a move yet. That worries me immensely if I'm a Philadelphia Eagles fan.


Philadelphia has Jake Elliott at kicker and Boston Scott as their kick returner. Boston Scott is the kick returner for Philadelphia.


Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Win: Baker Mayfield is replacing Tom Brady who is considered the greatest quarterback of All Time for winning seven Super Bowls all as a starting quarterback with six in New England and one more in Tampa Bay now that Tom Brady retired. Baker Mayfield is dealing with a rib injury, so there is a chance Kyle Trask gets the start at quarterback in week 18 if Mayfield isn't cleared to play. Tristian Wirfs is moving from right tackle to left tackle, Matt Feiler is at left guard, Robert Hainsley gets a second year to start at center thanks to a career ending injury for Ryan Jensen after Jensen missed all of the 2022 NFL season, Cody Mauch is at right guard after being the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 second round pick out of North Dakota State, and Luke Goedeke is moving from left guard to the right tackle position he played at Central Michigan. Tampa Bay has literally zero depth on the offensive line if injuries occur and even though injuries did occur in the season, nobody missed a game once all of Tampa Bay's starters played even when those guys were dealing with injuries.


Tampa Bay has Mike Evans as their flanker wide receiver, Chris Godwin is their secondary wide receiver, and Russell Gage is Tampa Bay's slot receiver. The bad news for Tampa Bay is that Russell Gage is out for the season, so Tampa Bay's 2023 sixth round pick Trey Palmer out of Nebraska is now Tampa Bay's slot receiver for this season. Rakim Jarrett made Tampa Bay's roster as an undrafted Free Agent out of Maryland, but he's also now the number four wide receiver on this depth chart. If anything happens to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, or Trey Palmer, you should see Rakim Jarrett this season. Chris Godwin did not practice on Wednesday heading into week 15, but did end up being cleared to play in week 15.


Cade Otton Tampa Bay's 2022 fourth round pick at tight end is now Tampa Bay's starting tight end with Ko Kieft another tight end Ko Kieft a 2022 sixth round pick out of Minnesota as the backup tight end to Otton. Kieft played in all 17 games as a rookie starting 12 as a number two tight end when Tom Brady had two tight end sets. David Wells is the third string tight end. Payne Durham the Purdue tight end that Tampa Bay drafted in the fifth round of 2023 NFL Draft is the fourth string tight end despite being the front runner to be the third string tight end with both tight ends on Tampa Bay's final 53-man roster.


Tampa Bay has Rachaad White as their starting running back, Chase Edmonds as their backup running back, Ke'Shawn Vaughn from the 2020 NFL Draft is their third string running back in a contract year as a third string running back, and Sean Tucker Tampa Bay's undrafted Free Agent is currently the fourth string running back despite being medically cleared by doctors to practice with the team prior to Tampa Bay's first preseason game. Sean Tucker made Tampa Bay's final roster and impressed in the preseason, but is still the fourth string running back at the moment.


Tampa Bay has Logan Hall at 3-4 right end, Vita Vea at 3-4 nose tackle who played with Gaines at Washington, and Calijah Kancey at 3-4 left end. Tampa Bay also has Greg Gaines as their backup 3-4 right end as well as their backup 3-4 nose tackle and William Gholston as their backup 3-4 left end.


Tampa Bay has Shaquill Barrett at 3-4 right outside linebacker and Yaya Diaby at 3-4 left outside linebacker. Tampa Bay also has Lavonte David and Devin White at 3-4 middle linebacker. Anthony Nelson is the backup 3-4 right outside linebacker Joe Tryon is the backup 3-4 left outside linebacker. Tampa Bay has K.J. Britt a 2021 fifth round pick out of Auburn and SirVocea Dennis a 2023 fifth round pick out of Pittsburgh as their backup 3-4 middle linebackers.


Tampa Bay has Carlton Davis at field cornerback, Jamel Dean playing boundary cornerback against number two receivers for the first time in his career after being a nickel cornerback, and Zyon McCollum as their nickel cornerback whenever Tampa Bay decides to pivot from a 3-4 base defense to a 3-3-5 nickel defense. Both Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean could be out in week 15. Ryan Neal is starting at strong safety and Antoine Winfield Jr. is starting at free safety.


Tampa Bay has Chase McLaughlin at kicker. He's done well despite being in a contract year at kicker.


Tampa Bay is the only other team outside of Buffalo with zero changes on the offensive line all season. Tampa Bay is also fully healthy on defense. Tampa Bay is actually the only team in this years NFL Playoffs at the moment with every projected starter on offense, defense, and special teams without a season ending injury entering the playoffs. Ryan Jensen their Pro Bowl center is the only player on injured reserve, and he missed most of 2022 before returning for the wild card loss only to get injured again. Robert Hainsley has gotten better in year three, so I feel very confident about Tampa Bay's chances when you consider how depleted Philadelphia is at free safety.


Adrian Hill, who officiated the same week 3 contest on the same cable network is calling this game. Adrian Hill is probably the fairest referee of all the ones in the wild card round.


Prediction: Philadelphia is a 3 point favorite at -3. The over or under is 43 with 71% of the public betting on Philadelphia. The money line is -160 Philadelphia and +140 for Tampa Bay. I like Tampa Bay to win and to cover with the under at +140. Bet $160 on this game for Tampa Bay and win up to $300 as long as the Eagles win by 2 or less.


Final Score Buccaneers 23 Eagles 19





Who Everyone Else Picked












Tanya Holmes Oren Shiri Jesse Lucas Jason Bantle Joseph Potter Andrew Kermish Lisa Donovan Tracy Porter Wes Langley Brian Bayless





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Offensive Tackle Rankings
Guard Rankings
Center Rankings
Defensive End Rankings
Defensive Tackle Rankings
Outside Linebacker Rankings
Middle Linebacker Rankings
Cornerback Rankings
Safety Rankings
Kicker Rankings
Punter Rankings






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