USA TODAY Sports Published 6:11 a.m. ET Jan. 3, 2020 | Updated 1:42 p.m. ET Jan. 4, 2020
Life in the NFL playoffs isn’t accessible for wild-card teams.
Beyond the adversity of accepting to comedy three amateur to adeptness the Super Bowl, the analysis runner-ups accept to adapt to comedy the absolute postseason on the road. It’s little wonder, then, that no wild-card aggregation has accomplished the final bold aback the Green Bay Packers won it all in the 2010 season. Aback the NFL broadcast the postseason architecture in 1990, 79.3% of teams that accept accomplished the Super Bowl accept had a first-round bye.
With all that in mind, we asked reporters and editors from USA TODAY Sports and the USA TODAY Network: Which wild-card aggregation has the best adventitious of authoritative a abysmal playoff run?
Don’t get me wrong. I anticipate the Tennessee Titans accept a abundant adventitious to agitated the New England Patriots on Saturday. Mike Vrabel has fabricated all the appropriate moves bottomward the stretch, and alike New England’s aegis is activity to attempt to accommodate a advantageous and motivated Derrick Henry. Plus, these aren’t the Tom Brady and Patriots of old and, alike if they were, Vrabel is one of the few bodies who wouldn’t be intimated by that.
I additionally like Buffalo, and anticipate the Bills are one of the added underrated teams in the league. Give Josh Allen addition year, and I anticipate there’s activity to be a big – and abiding – shakeup in the AFC East.
That said, I anticipate Baltimore and Kansas City are the best two teams still playing, and I don’t like the matchups of them against, well, anybody. Abnormally with an added anniversary to get advantageous and accessible for their divisional-round opponent. Put Tennessee and Buffalo in the NFC, and it adeptness be a altered story. But Baltimore is the best able aggregation there is, and Kansas City is peaking at the appropriate time. Accepting to comedy either of them is like active into a buzzsaw.
A few weeks ago, I adeptness accept said Seattle. But the Seahawks are artlessly too banged up for an continued run.
I apperceive I’m contradicting myself because I didn’t booty them in our account picks, but the Seattle Seahawks apparently accept the best adventitious of all of the wild-card teams. I went aback and alternating about whether to aces them as my agitated of the week.
The Seahawks were aloof inches abroad from assault the No. 1 berry 49ers. They accept a absolutely acceptable defense, they accept in antithesis on offense, and with Russell Wilson, they consistently accept a chance. He has a akin of proven appropriate that the added quarterbacks in the agrarian agenda annular do not. Those are all elements you accept to accept to cull off upsets this time of year. I’m aloof not abiding that the abyss at active aback and abridgement of acquaintance at the accomplishment positions are abundant for the Seahawks as they accept to comedy these alley playoff games, and that’s why they adeptness abatement short.
I alone ascertain a “deep playoff run” as extensive the appointment championship game, at minimum. So as abundant as I like the Titans and Bills – abnormally the Titans – I don’t apprehend either accomplishment a “deep” run, abnormally because that would crave Tennessee to exhausted the Patriots and Ravens. That leaves me with the Vikings and Seahawks. I like Minnesota aback Dalvin Cook is healthy, accept Kirk Cousins is still a bit unfairly lampooned and accept aerial attention for the defense. But I aloof can’t see the Vikes animadversion off both the Saints and 49ers. So I’m larboard with Seattle – a aggregation I’m on almanac accepting assurance issues with accustomed their doubtable aegis and connected high-wire act.
If it wasn’t for Lamar Jackson’s blemish year, we’d be talking about Russell Wilson as the arch applicant for MVP.
Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are the wild-card aggregation with the best adventitious to accomplish a abysmal playoff run. That’s mostly a byproduct of the aggregation they are arena on Sunday. The Eagles accept won four-straight games, however, those amateur were adjoin sub-mediocre NFC East teams. Philadelphia is a depleted band arena with backups at some key positions.
Losers of three of their aftermost four, the Seahawks accept regressed but drillmaster Pete Carroll has abundant playmakers on both abandon of the brawl to accomplish some babble this postseason. Plus, they accept their affecting baton Marshawn Lynch aback in uniform.
Seattle already won on the alley in Philadelphia in Anniversary 12. The Seahawks were angry for an NFL-best 7-1 alley almanac this season. Wilson, who is 4-0 in his career adjoin the Eagles, and NFL tackles baton Bobby Wagner accept a acceptable adventitious at across-the-board Philly this year and advancing to the Divisional Round.
The Seahawks face a resilient-but-banged-up Eagles team. Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz (27 TDs, 7 INTs) has animated his team. But he and drillmaster Doug Pederson won’t be able to outplay a Seattle aggregation that has gritted out a 7-1 alley record. One key carbon Wentz should beware: The Seattle aegis affected 18 fumbles in the approved season, additional best in the league. Additionally additional best in the league: the 19 fumbles Wentz surrendered. Should the Seahawks beforehand to a divisional-round bold in San Francisco (assuming the Saints exhausted the Vikings), they’ve accurate the adeptness to win there.
My acknowledgment is based on two things: aptitude and experience. The Seahawks, alike with a alternation of contempo injuries, accept both. Russell Wilson is the abandoned quarterback of the four wild-card squads to accept won a Super Bowl. Pete Carroll is the abandoned drillmaster of the four to accept done the same. Wilson was an MVP applicant for the majority of the division until Lamar Jackson absolutely took off. Players like Bobby Wagner, Jadeveon Clowney, and added highlight the roster. The Seahawks additionally appear to accept the best almanac (11-5) of any of the agrarian agenda teams.
Still, the Seahawks accept some apropos characteristics they charge to fix. They generally abatement into aboriginal deficits. They generally attempt to put teams away. Their amateur abounding times assume afterpiece than they charge to be. For Seattle to accomplish a run, it will charge to comedy added complete amateur and accent its strengths – banishment turnovers and attention the football, benumbed a abiding hasty game, and absolution Wilson ad-lib and accumulate his eyes downfield to accomplish plays in the casual game.
While I anticipate bodies are sleeping on Buffalo a bit, I’ve got to go with Seattle here. The Seahawks are technically the No. 5 berry in the NFC, but they accept a actual believable aisle to the NFC championship game. They’re advantaged on the alley this weekend adjoin Philadelphia, and again they’d acceptable face San Francisco, with whom they’ve been close and close all year. Nothing comes accessible in the playoffs, obviously, but with a adept agenda and Russell Wilson at the helm, Seattle has as acceptable a adventitious as any aggregation of authoritative a run.
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