NFC Super Wild Card Weekend predictions: Cowboys, Eagles headed in opposite directions, thriller in Detroit

Yardbarker

Is it too late for the Eagles to recapture their 2022 form? Are the Lions headed for another playoff heartbreak? Will Sunday be Mike McCarthy’s final game as Cowboys head coach?

Those are just a few of the questions we have entering Super Wild Card Weekend. Here are our predictions for this weekend’s games in the NFC.

No. 7 Green Bay Packers (9-8) at No. 2 Dallas Cowboys (12-5) | Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

McCarthy takes on his former team and is potentially coaching for his job as the Cowboys kick off their postseason run. Dallas’ ability to pressure Packers quarterback Jordan Love will be one of the game’s biggest keys. The Cowboys are first in ESPN’s pass-rush win-rate rankings, while the Packers are second in its pass-block win-rate rankings. Per data from Pro Football Focus, Love was pressured at one of the league’s lowest rates (30.2 percent); of those pressures, only 15.2 percent resulted in a sack.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott put together an impressive season, leading the league in pass completions (410) and passing touchdowns (36) and finishing third in passing yards (4,516). Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb had his best season as a pro with a league-leading 135 receptions for 1,749 yards. Packers star corner Jaire Alexander (shoulder, ankle) was limited in practice on Wednesday and did not participate on Thursday. Without a healthy Alexander, Prescott will likely be able to expose Green Bay’s defense. 

PREDICTION: Cowboys, 31-23

No. 6 Los Angeles Rams (10-7) at No. 3 Detroit Lions (12-5) | Sunday, 8 p.m. ET

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford returns to Detroit with Los Angeles being arguably the hottest team in the NFC over the last two months, going 7-1 since Week 11. Meanwhile, the Lions haven’t been good on defense over the last month of the season, allowing more than 300 passing yards in each of their final three games, two of which came against Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens. Stafford presents a much tougher challenge.

Rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua and veteran Cooper Kupp have favorable matchups against corners Cameron Sutton and Jerry Jacobs, who combined to allow 107 receptions, 1,491 yards and 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions this season, per PFF. Lions quarterback Jared Goff should find success targeting wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown, but in a game that projects to be the highest-scoring of wild-card weekend, it will be the Rams veterans making the key plays late.

PREDICTION: Rams, 34-31

No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles (11-6) at No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) | Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Eagles seem to have a misguided notion that if the team that went 10-1 to begin the season shows up in the playoffs instead of the 1-5 team that ended the regular season, they can go on a run to the Super Bowl. However, that early version wasn’t a contender, either. Philly’s defense has been a season-long problem, and while the Bucs nearly fumbled away the NFC South with an ugly 9-0 win against the Panthers in Week 18, wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should feast against one of the league’s worst secondaries.

“I understand y’all frustration, but y’all ain’t in that building,” said Eagles edge Brandon Graham earlier this week about the fan base’s bleak outlook on the team’s playoff chances. It doesn’t take access to the team’s practice facility to know the Eagles aren’t a title contender. The Eagles have been on thin ice all season; on Monday night, it finally breaks.

PREDICTION: Buccaneers, 23-20

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