Seventeen weeks of preamble led to this. Eight N.F.L. The teams fight for the chance to get out of a wildcard round in which the winners of the last three Super Bowls emerge and in which the street team is preferred in one game.
Here are our predictions of how the games will be sorted, taking all tips against the spread.
Last week's record against the spread: 10-6
Last regular season record: 136-115-5
No. 5 bills at number 4 Texans. 4:35 p.m., ABC and ESPN
Line: Texans -3 | Total: 43
It is not surprising that this game was played on Saturday afternoon: The Texans (10-6) have relegated to this position in each of the franchise's six playoff games. The bills (10-6) are decades away from the game's elite. But anyone who skips this game could miss a grudge game between an exciting offensive and an underestimated defense.
Statistically speaking, the Texans' offense had not been an impressive year, but if it was right for them, quarterback Deshaun Watson can deliver a terrific show by challenging secondaries with deep passes to the recipients DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. And a no-frills running game headed by Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson and Watson can refresh the clock.
However, Houston had mixed results against elite secondaries in 2019. It hit the Patriots at week 13, thanks to Watson's three touchdown passes and a fourth (thrown by Hopkins), but it was demolished by Baltimore at week 11 with Watson throwing for only 169 yards (and returning 49 yards on bags).
According to Football Outsiders, Buffalo is just under these teams in terms of pass defense efficiency, and that could make it difficult for Watson to put up large numbers. A defeat that turns into an ongoing fight would benefit Buffalo, as his offensive comes primarily from hitting the ball on the ground, relying on quarterback Josh Allen to make few mistakes and occasionally play big ,
The teams are equal, and although Houston is a worthy favorite due to its home advantage, there is a risk of a surprise. Choose: Texans -3
No. 6 Titans at No. 3 patriots. 8:15 p.m., CBS
Line: Patriots -5 | Overall: 44.5
The patriots remembered one of the most confusing 12-4 seasons. They had bad teams and went 9-1 against clubs with a record of 0.500 or worse, while they went 3-3 against winning teams – each of the three wins being decided by a score.
In the Patriots' three biggest tests – week 9 in Baltimore, week 14 against Kansas City and week 17 against Miami (with a farewell game in the first round) – they always fell flat and lost.
Tom Brady's first chance to flip a switch and turn his team back into a juggernaut is against the upstart Titans (9-7), who became rivals after a surprising move to the quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the middle of the sixth week. Tannehill was often ridiculed in his six-year career as a starter in Miami and came to Tennessee to replace Marcus Mariota in the final off-season. in passer rating and yards per attempt.
In a crime designed by Arthur Smith, Tannehill's efficiency and broad recipient A.J. Brown's explosiveness served as the perfect counterbalance to Derrick Henry, the N.F.L. in a hurry and career highlights in almost every category. Amusingly, bad weather caused by a winter storm called Henry could cause the game to be decided by setbacks, which would dramatically benefit Tennessee.
The home advantage of New England is still a big factor, as is the experience in the playoffs. But the patriots haven't played a wild card round game since 2009 (they lost this game), which should indicate that this isn't a typical Brady-led team. The patriots are prone to a surprise that may look shocking on paper, but would not be surprising at all. Choose: Titans +5
No. 6 viking at No. 3 saint. 1:05 p.m. Fox
Line: saint -7.5 | Total: 50
If the N.F.C. Divided into levels, the Saints (13-3) were at the top alongside San Francisco and Green Bay. Unfortunately for the Saints, a tiebreaker sent them into the wildcard round.
As a result, three of the weekend's four games match, but this is a potential slip-up. The Saints have only lost twice at home this season and have suffered one of those defeats. Week 14 against San Francisco – came to the last game. The Vikings (10-6) were 4-4 on the way.
Dalvin Cook was able to train this week, which is good news for Minnesota. The team is in top form when Cook wreaks havoc from the background. It allows quarterback Kirk Cousins to choose his seats with the broad receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
But the Vikings' offensive results may not matter if Drew Brees and the Saints play their typical game. New Orleans has crossed the 30-point mark eleven times this season and exceeded the 40-point mark twice.
It had only been two seasons since the Vikings angered New Orleans in the region – thanks to a Diggs catch that will last forever – but this game took place in Minnesota. It's in New Orleans, and it would be surprising if it were anywhere near it. Choose: Saints -7.5
No. 5 Seahawks at number 4 Eagle. 4:40 p.m., NBC
Line: Seahawks -1.5 | Total: 45
The Seahawks (11: 5) had injuries in the team's top 3 second half rounds, which were almost fully counted before a major week-17 match against San Francisco. Seattle almost won thanks to a group effort led by newcomer Travis Homer and retired Marshawn Lynch.
There is no moral victory in the N.F.L. and the close end of Jacob Hollister The seahawks had to play on the road in the wildcard round, landing one centimeter before touchdown. But if there was a positive record of this game, the Seattle offensive could succeed without Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.
The Eagles (9-7) know a thing or two about playing through injuries. Quarterback Carson Wentz is the one first quarterback in N.F.L. history Cross 4,000 yards without a single wide receiver exceeding 500 (two narrow ends and a receding arrow have darkened this mark). He had to afford a crime even though his top 3 receivers and top 2 running backs were missing the time, and yet Philadelphia managed to get Dallas for the N.F.C. to overtake. Ostkrone.
This weekend will be more of the same. The Eagles hope for Zach Ertz's close end and Miles Sanders will be able to return after an injury, but neither player is sure. Against Lane Johnson it is not right, which would be a devastating defeat for Philadelphia if Jadeveon Clowney from Seattle could survive a core injury.
The Seahawks aren't the defensive powerhouse they used to be, even when Clowney was on the field, but an attack led by Russell Wilson is good enough to get into the division round. Choose: Seahawks -1.5
See you in the first round: Baltimore, Kansas City, San Francisco, Green Bay
All times are Eastern European.