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2017 NFL wild-card playoffs: Predicting the winners

NFL Nation reporters predict the outcomes for the wild-card games on Saturday and Sunday.


Titans at Chiefs

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Young believes in the Rams

Steve Young says the Falcons and the Rams both have great offenses, but the Rams "are more ready to go the distance."

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Tennessee Titans

The Titans' route to beating the Chiefs lies with the playmaking ability of Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry. Mariota's legs are the wild card in this matchup for a Titans offense that took a big step backward in 2017, finishing 23rd overall. Tennessee beat Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium in December 2016 and they're confident they can do it again. I'll believe it when I see it. Chiefs 25, Titans 20 -- Cameron Wolfe

Kansas City Chiefs

All teams are better when they win the turnover battle, but few depend on winning that part of the game like the Chiefs. They were 9-1 this season when they were ahead in turnover differential and 1-5 when they were even or negative. They also were 6-1 in games against teams that finished in the bottom 10 in turnovers. The Titans, with Mariota among the league leaders in interceptions, finished in that bottom 10. It’s not hard to picture a Marcus Peters interception making the difference in this game. Chiefs 23, Titans 17 -- Adam Teicher


Falcons at Rams

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Bills players and fans partying like it's 1999

When the Bills finally made the playoffs after 17 years, players and fans shared their excitement that the longest postseason drought in professional sports came to an end.

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Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are a lot healthier than anticipated, according to coach Dan Quinn, with running back Devonta Freeman recovering quickly from a knee injury, wide receiver Julio Jones much better off ankle and rib injuries, and return man Andre Roberts running well off ankle/knee injuries. All of that is good news for the offense, with Jones being that big-play threat, Freeman serving as another outlet in the passing game when Matt Ryan gets rushed, and Roberts setting up good field position with big returns. The Falcons haven't put their best game together yet this season, but one would figure the offense will fare better than the combined 2-for-9 in red zone opportunities over the past two games. Last year's Super Bowl implosion should be motivation going into this postseason. And this offense is capable of exploding anytime, even on the road against an Aaron Donald-led defense. It comes down to Matt Bryant's foot, though. Falcons 31, Rams 28 -- Vaughn McClure

Los Angeles Rams

For those wondering whether the Rams will be rusty after resting most of their starters Sunday, look no further than what they did after their bye week, when they beat the New York Giants 51-17 on the road. Granted, the Falcons are a much better team. But the Rams' front seven should have its way against the Falcons' beat-up offensive line and make life difficult on an immobile Matt Ryan. I worry about how the Rams match up with two big, physical receivers in Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. And I worry about the Rams' kicker, Sam Ficken, an undrafted free agent from 2015 who hadn't kicked in a regular-season game until two weeks ago. Greg Zuerlein's season-ending injury may eventually catch up to the Rams, but not in this round. They're rested, they're at home, and frankly, they're better. Rams 31, Falcons 24 -- Alden Gonzalez


Bills at Jaguars

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Buffalo Bills

The Bills have been able to cover up their 29th-ranked run defense this season when they have been able to force turnovers, and Blake Bortles presents the best opportunity for Buffalo to pull off an upset. Bortles is 8-0 this season when he does not throw an interception but 2-6 when he does. The Bills are 8-3 when they force at least one interception and 5-1 when they force at least two. The Bills have three defenders -- safeties Jordan Poyer (5) and Micah Hyde (5), as well as cornerback Tre'Davious White (4) -- in the top 12 in interceptions this season, and if those players come up big, the Bills can steal a possession and win a low-scoring game. Bills 16, Jaguars 13 -- Mike Rodak

Jacksonville Jaguars

This is the time of year the Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette for, and they're going to ride the rookie running back pretty hard against the Bills, which makes sense because the Bills' rushing defense ranks 29th in the NFL (124.6 yards per game). Fournette, who is just the second rookie in franchise history to rush for more than 1,000 yards, said he's ready for a heavy workload. His career high in carries is 28, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he approached that number Sunday. The Jaguars' defense has been much better against the run since the addition of Marcell Dareus, and with the iffy status of LeSean McCoy, the Jaguars are going to make the Bills put the game on Tyrod Taylor's shoulders. Jaguars 24, Bills 14 -- Michael DiRocco


Panthers at Saints

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Carolina Panthers

The two regular-season meetings between these two, both Saints wins, came down to a few big plays that turned things in the favor of New Orleans. Cam Newton didn't play particularly well, either. The Panthers will eliminate many of those errors, but the Saints and Drew Brees are still too good at home. Brees' ability to get rid of the ball before the Carolina pass rush can have an impact is the key. The Panthers have gotten to him only three times in two games. Not much for a team that averaged 3.3 sacks in its other 14 games. Saints 24, Panthers 21 -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

The Saints know the formula for beating the Panthers after winning by double digits in each of their first two meetings: containing Cam Newton and running for nearly 150 yards both times. But both of those things are a lot easier said than done. No other team rushed for more than 120 yards against Carolina’s loaded front seven this year. And now Newton has tight end Greg Olsen back, while the Saints have lost linebacker A.J. Klein and safety Kenny Vaccaro to injured reserve. (On the flip side: They’ll have breakout star CB Marshon Lattimore back after he missed the first two games against Carolina.) Ultimately, the Saints’ loaded offense is still the biggest game-changer, and the Panthers haven’t shown that they can stop Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Brees and Michael Thomas. Saints 29, Panthers 23 -- Mike Triplett