AFC Super Wild Card Weekend Previews & Predictions

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter/X: @FBGarbageTime

Don’t forget to check out this week’s podcast to get a full breakdown of every Super Wild Card Weekend game from Ryan Whitfield and me!

Cleveland Browns (11-6) @ Houston Texans (10-7)

Saturday, January 13, 2024 – 4:30 PM ET

  • Spread: Cleveland by 2.5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
Cleveland Browns Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 19th (217.2)
  • Rushing – 12th (118.6)
  • Points – Tied 10th (23.3)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 1st (164.7)
  • Rushing – 11th (105.5)
  • Points – Tied 13th (21.3)
  • Turnover Differential – (-9) (Tied for 7th Worst)
Houston Texans Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 7th (245.5)
  • Rushing – Tied 22nd (96.9)
  • Points – Tied 13th (22.2)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 23rd (234.1)
  • Rushing – 6th (96.6)
  • Points – 11th (20.8)
  • Turnover Differential – (+10) (Tied for 5th Best)

Preview & Prediction

Interestingly, both of these teams are tied to Deshaun Watson, the Texans being the team that drafted him and the Browns being the team that overpaid for him.  Deshaun Watson’s only contribution to this matchup, however, will be providing morale support from the sidelines due to his season ending injury.

The Texans were the second worst team in the NFL last season after trading Watson but struck gold drafting CJ Stroud second overall, and also drafting Tank Dell.  Dell is out due to injury, but Nico Collins has finally lived up to the hype and TE acquisition Dalton Schultz is also contributing at a high level.  Add in Devin Singletary who usurped former starting RB Dameon Pierce and you have yourself an incredibly dangerous offense supported by an opportunistic defense.  So much for that slow rebuild.

The Browns on the other hand are in the playoffs despite the trade for Watson, as Joe Flacco was brought in essentially off his couch and managed to light it with Amari Cooper and David Njoku like its circa 2013.  But the magic may stop here, as Flacco so far has only outdueled a gimpy Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Davis Mills, and Trevor Siemian, only one of which had a winning record this season and none of which are starting in the playoffs.  And keep in mind that Flacco threw 8 interceptions and fumbled the ball 4 times in his 5 starts.  Honestly, he may be single-handedly responsible for the Browns -9 turnover differential.  The Browns defense is clearly superior, and they have the ability to shut down any passing offense, but they do have some vulnerability on the ground and have not been prolific in takeaways.

Texans Win

Miami Dolphins (11-6) @ Kansas City Chiefs (11-6)

Saturday, January 13, 2024 – 8 PM ET

  • Spread: Kansas City by 4.5
  • Over/Under: 44.5
Miami Dolphins Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 1st (265.5)
  • Rushing – 6th (135.8)
  • Points – 2nd (29.2)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 15th (221.2)
  • Rushing – 7th (97.1)
  • Points – 22nd (23.0)
  • Turnover Differential – (+2) (Tied 12th Best)
Kansas City Chiefs Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 6th (246.4)
  • Rushing – 19th (104.9)
  • Points – 15th (21.8)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 4th (176.5)
  • Rushing – Tied 17th (113.2)
  • Points – 2nd (17.3)
  • Turnover Differential – (-11) (Tied 4th Worst)

Preview & Prediction

Tyreek Hill gets to return to Kansas City to face the Chiefs after leading the league in receiving yards and flaunt the fact that the the Chiefs currently don’t have anyone near his level.  That being said, the Chiefs are still the Chiefs and playing at Arrowhead is still a tough place for a visiting team to win.  Patrick Mahomes hasn’t been himself, part of which is due to his drop-tastic WRs and an aging Travis Kelce (and no, I’m not going to comment on whether Taylor Swift has any impact on what’s happening on the field).  But Isiah Pacheco has been a revelation carrying the offense on the ground and the Chiefs defense has been exactly as advertised.

Miami is essentially limping into the playoffs after a loss to the Bills at home and with an injured Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.  League leading rushing TD scorer Raheem Mostert sat out last week but looks to be trending towards being ready for the game, which is a good thing for the Dolphins since their best bet may be to rely on on Mostert and breakout rookie De’Von Achane to run the ball, control time of possession and keep Mahomes off the field.  The Chiefs have the 4th best passing defense in the NFL, which doesn’t mean that Tua shouldn’t try to get to the ball to Hill and Waddle, but it certainly shouldn’t be their focus as quick 3 and outs are going to be disastrous.  On top of that, the Dolphins defense have been less then stellar of late and now have to deal with injuries to safeties Jevon Holland and DeShon Elliott with both Xavien Howard and Bradley Chubb already out.

With the Chiefs being tied for the 4th worst turnover differential in the league at a whopping -11, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a mistake.  And one mistake may be all the Dolphins need to stay in the game.  That being said it’s tough for a team to win at Arrowhead, particularly one coming from Miami who might not be use to the single digit temperatures of Kansas City.  In fact, Miami has lost 10 straight games where the game time temperature is 40 degrees or less.  And it’s going to be a lot less than 40 degrees on Saturday night in Kansas City.

Chiefs Win

Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) @ Buffalo Bills (11-6)

Sunday, January 14, 2024 – 1 PM ET

  • Spread: Buffalo by 10
  • Over/Under: 36.5
Pittsburgh Steelers Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 25th (186.1)
  • Rushing – 13th (118.2)
  • Points – 28th (17.9)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 17th (227.1)
  • Rushing – 19th (115.1)
  • Points – 6th (19.1)
  • Turnover Differential – (+11) (Tied 3rd Best)
Buffalo Bills Stats

Offense per Game

  • Passing – 8th (244.4)
  • Rushing – 7th (130.1)
  • Points – 6th (26.5)

Defense per Game Allowed

  • Passing – 7th (196.6)
  • Rushing – 15th (110.6)
  • Points – 4th (18.3)
  • Turnover Differential – (+2) (Tied 12th Best)

Preview & Prediction

It’s pretty shocking that the Steelers found a way into the playoffs with Mason Rudolph under center.  It’s not that he’s bad, it’s just that there’s nothing explosive about this offense. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are making a late season surge after being only moderately effective most of the season, but they’ll have to be absolutely on point to carry this game on their shoulders.  Most problematic for the Steelers is the absence of TJ Watt, which essentially deep-sixes their defense.  The Steelers are only 1-10 in games without Watt, allowing an average of 25.8 points per game.

The Bills on the other hand are surging having won 5 in a row, 3 of which were against playoff teams (Chiefs, Cowboys and Dolphins).  They’ve also only lost 2 games at home this season, the last time being 2 months ago.  And the Bills finally got their ground game going behind James Cook, who’s quietly had the 4th most rush yards in the NFL (1,122) during the regular season.  Maybe the Steelers get opportunistic and steal a series with a takeaway, but I have little confidence that their offense can keep up with the Bills.

Bills Win