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NFL Playoff Predictions 2024: DraftKings Network picks every Wild Card matchup

Our staff gives their predictions for the upcoming Wild Card Round games

A NFL Wild Card logo is displayed on the field before the game against the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 15, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL Playoffs are upon us and that means it is time to get humiliated by trying to pick each game of the first round. We’ve asked our crew here at DKNetwork to put their reputations on the line by giving their fiery takes on this 2024 Wild Card Round.

This weekend we get plenty of good matchups with interesting storylines. We get to watch Matthew Stafford return to Detroit and Jared Goff try to beat the team that traded him away. Tyreek Hill will return to his first team, the Kansas City Chiefs, while Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy takes on his old team, the Green Bay Packers. Joe Flacco is somehow back and taking on a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback. There’s also some interesting and severe weather in store for the Steelers and Bills in Orchard Park, while Kansas City is going to truly be the frozen tundra on Saturday night.

So, sit back and take a look at who we think can persevere and break through to the next round of the NFL Playoffs.

2024 NFL Playoff Predictions

Wild Card Round

Ben Zweiman, Senior Managing Editor

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins

No. 5 Cleveland Browns over No. 4 Houston Texans

I think you’ve got to favor the two home teams in the bad-weather games. The Bills are hot and face a Steelers defense without its best player in T.J.` Watt. The Dolphins are too banged up on offense and don’t historically fare well in cold-weather games. I think the Browns get by the rookie QB in CJ Stroud and rookie HC in DeMeco Ryans. Cleveland’s defense is too good and QB Joe Flacco has done this dance before.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers

No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions

No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The one upset I have based on the spreads in the first round is the Rams over Detroit. The Lions shouldn’t have TE Sam LaPorta and even if he does play, there’s no way he’s 100%. L.A. is arguably the hottest team entering the postseason having won seven of the past eight. This is mostly the same group that won the Super Bowl a few seasons ago. I think they can pull off the upset.

The Cowboys and Eagles should take care of business but both could be on upset alert as well. Ultimately, I think the head coaches get their teams prepared for the playoffs and shake off any regular-season issues, at least for one round. Both games could be close, but I think we get both NFC East teams through to the Divisional Round.

Chet Gresham, NFL Editor

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins

No. 4 Houston Texans over No. 5 Cleveland Browns

I can easily see the Steelers finishing this game closer than the 10-point spread, especially in what should be tough wintery conditions, but Josh Allen has been willing his team to victories on a five-game winning streak, including wins against the Chiefs, Cowboys and Dolphins.

Speaking of the Chiefs and Dolphins, these two teams will meet in Kansas City in sub-zero wind chills. Jaylen Waddle and Raheem Mostert aren’t 100% and neither is Tyreek Hill, though he was able to play last week while Mostert and Waddle weren’t. The Dolphins just haven’t looked in-synch of late and Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t been elevating his playmakers, while Patrick Mahomes has three Super Bowl appearances on his side.

The Browns are favorites on the road in Houston after they beat the Texans handily a few weeks ago. Of course, that game was without C.J. Stroud and I see him as the difference-maker this weekend.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers

No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions

No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jordan Love has been playing like a Top-5 quarterback of late and should have a healthy group of receivers to work with in Dallas, so I’m not projecting an easy Cowboys win. I do believe Dallas has a stronger overall defense and offense though, as well as kicker. They also play much better at home and should be able to get the win.

Rams vs. Lions is almost a pick’em for me, but I love the way Matthew Stafford has been playing this season, while the Lions pass defense is their weakness. Head coach Dan Campbell will have his team ready to go, but Sean McVay and Stafford’s offensive prowess should win the day.

I’ve seen the Buccaneers play too many down games this year to feel good about them in the playoffs against a desperate Eagles team. There aren’t many positives to throw out about the Eagles right now, but they have the personnel to win this game easily, if they can get in any kind of rhythm.

Chinmay Vaidya, Sports Editor

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins

No. 4 Houston Texans over No. 5 Cleveland Browns

I could’ve seen the Steelers making this a relatively close game if T.J. Watt was healthy but without that pass rush, there’s little this defense will do against Josh Allen. The Bills are arguably the most dangerous team in the league right now and this Steelers squad doesn’t have enough to beat them. I like Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to operate better offensively on a cold day than the Dolphins, and I think C.J. Stroud will be the difference in a rematch between the Browns and Texans. Cleveland has been a nice story all season but Stroud looks like a bonafide franchise quarterback and will add another signature moment to his rookie season.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers

No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions

No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s tempting to pick Green Bay and I’ll be rooting for the Packers, but Dallas hasn’t lost a home game all season and has more experience across the board. Green Bay’s pass rush should be able to impact Dak Prescott, but can the secondary hold up for four quarters against CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks? I think either Green Bay wins close or Dallas wins in a blowout. As long as Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown are good to go, I think the Eagles should have no trouble getting past the Buccaneers.

I believe the primetime game between the Rams and Lions will be the best game of the opening weekend. Matthew Stafford returning to Detroit, Jared Goff facing his former team and the rookie contributors on both sides are just some of the big storylines in this game. I expect this to be a back-and-forth contest that goes to the wire and in that type of game, I usually pick the better quarterback to make one more play than his counterpart. The Rams win a close one.

Teddy Ricketson, Staff Writer

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers

No. 6 Miami Dolphins over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs

No. 4 Houston Texans over No. 5 Cleveland Browns

I think Minkah Fitzpatrick coming back would be great for the Steelers, but no T.J. Watt, no win for Pittsburgh. Josh Allen will likely throw an interception, as he does every game, but Buffalo should hold strong at home. The weather in KC is going to be brutal, with a -14 wind chill projected in the second half. Give me the team with the better running backs, which will be Miami if they are healthy. Cleveland rolled over Houston in the regular season, but the Texans didn’t have C.J. Stroud. I’ll take the rookie at home with the luck running out for Flacco.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers

No. 3 Detroit Lions over No. 6 Los Angeles Rams

No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Mike McCarthy revenge game should be a good one, but I’m guessing the Dallas offense seals the fate of Green Bay DC Joe Barry and advances. I do think that the Rams will keep it close against the Lions, but this feels like a game that Detroit needs to win. They are riding the momentum of their first division title in 30 years, and I think that helps quell the Matthew Stafford revenge attempt. The Eagles struggled down the stretch of the season, but this should be a game that helps them get right and build the momentum needed for a tougher matchup in the Divisional Round.

Nick Simon, Staff Writer

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6 Miami Dolphins over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 5 Cleveland Browns over No. 4 Houston Texans

I’m picking Miami to upset Kansas City even with injuries piling up on the defensive side of the ball and even with temperatures projected to be in the single digits at Arrowhead on Saturday. Because it’s been a weird year, so why not? Things were off for this Chiefs offense throughout the back half of the regular season and this is a perfect opportunity for Tyreek Hill to show them what they’ve been missing in person. As for the other games, I think Buffalo will handle Pittsburgh at home. And while Houston has been a feel-good story, I think Joe Flacco keeps his comeback story going by leading Cleveland to a road playoff win.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 3 Detroit Lions over No. 6 Los Angeles Rams
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles

I’m going straight chalk with my NFC picks and predicting that all three home teams advance. The pressure is on Dallas to not choke at home here and I think it’ll step up and give Jordan Love a rude welcome to the postseason. The Stafford-Goff revenge bowl at Ford Field could be the best game of the entire weekend and I think Detroit wins an extremely tight contest to end its decades-long playoff drought. As for the Monday night game, the vibes all off with Philly as a late-season collapse has been made worse by injuries to Jalen Hurts, AJ Brown, and DeVonta Smith. I have Tampa Bay doing just enough at home to put the Eagles down for good.

Mike Turay, Editorial Coordinator

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins
No. 5 Cleveland Browns over No. 4 Houston Texans

Imagine if you told Bills Mafia a few weeks ago they’d be hosting a wildcard game come January. Josh Allen and his rollercoaster performances somehow always make things interesting. If you consider both of these teams terminated their offensive coordinators mid-season, it’s a testament to why the NFL is so great. I like Buffalo in what will likely be a cold-weather snowy playoff showdown.

The injury bug has hurt Miami down the stretch and Tua Tagovailoa along with the offense struggled against the Bills in the second half. Kansas City has its own troubles with drops in the receiving corps. In another cold snowy type of affair, the run game for both sides will be huge. My heart would love for a Tyreek Hill revenge game, but in Week 9 Steve Spagnuolo and the Chiefs defense limited him to a relatively quiet 8-catch outing. Patrick Mahomes does just enough to boost the Swifties to a win.

Two of the better feel-good stories in football and unfortunately one team has to go home. Joe Flacco has defeated Father Time and the last time these two faced off, Amari Cooper turned into prime Randy Moss. For C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans hats off for restoring the Texans franchise, but only one team has Myles Garrett. Cleveland this if in fact for you, give me the Browns.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles

Could this be the year? The Cowboys have not lost a game at home but on the other side, Jordan Love is coming off arguably one of the best first-year starting QB seasons we’ve ever seen. The key matchup will be CeeDee Lamb vs. Jaire Alexander, will the highest-paid CB actually show up come Sunday? Aaron Jones has also come on of late and the Cowboys can’t afford to take this Green Bay team lightly. Another heart vs. head pick, I’m siding with Dak “Here We Go” Prescott to lead Dallas to a narrow victory.

Dan Campbell has done a tremendous job all-year, of course we know the one-two punch out of the backfield (David Montgomery/Jahmyr Gibbs) along with Amon-Ra St. Brown. What scares me is one of Jared Goff’s security blanket pass-catchers in Sam LaPorta going down in Week 18. Matthew Stafford now has the chance to break the hearts of Lions fans once again. The emergence of Puka Nacua, combined with what Cooper Kupp, and Kyren Williams bring to this offense, I like Sean McVay and the Rams chances at Ford Field.

Philadelphia has not looked the part, losing 5 of their last 6 games. The defense has been underwhelming and suddenly Jalen Hurts seems out of sync on offense. Putting up points is not the issue, you have A.J. Brown and company to make those plays. The biggest factor will be who is covering Mike Evans in that spotty secondary. Sure Baker Mayfield is no elite QB, but neither is Tyrod Taylor or Drew Lock. Both QBs found their way against Philadelphia down the stretch. The Eagles can’t expect to flip the switch and I see a team that is not connected. Tampa and the home field advantage should prevail.

David Fucillo, Head of Sports Betting Content

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 6 Miami Dolphins over No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs
No. 5 Cleveland Browns over No. 4 Houston Texans

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 3 Detroit Lions over No. 6 Los Angeles Rams
No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lance Cartelli, Deputy Managing Editor

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins
No. 4 Houston Texans over No. 5 Cleveland Browns

This might be boring for the underdog and upset crowd, but the AFC is going to look very chalky in the opening round of the playoffs.

Sean McDermott won’t have to reach too far into his bag of tricks to motivate the Bills to defeat Steelers third-string QB Mason Rudolph and Co., so the Bills HC can holster any more of his 9/11 motivational speeches.

The Dolphins’ litany of injuries and their lack of success in the cold will doom them against the Chiefs, who feel like a sleeping giant, even if their best skill player is daydreaming about going on tour with his much more famous girlfriend.

The closest battle will be between the Texans and Browns. Part of me, very, very deep down, wants to see Joe Flacco with another miraculous run, but I’m rolling with C.J. Stroud and the Texans against a depleted team.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles

The NFC is much more interesting and ripe for upsets.

The Cowboys will have a dog fight on their hands against a surging Packers squad. However, the Packers’ youth, and the fact that it’s a Mike McCarthy Revenge Game (TM) will keep Dallas alive, unless it comes down to the final couple of minutes, then the Cowboys are probably in big trouble.

The best game of the weekend, in my opinion, is the Matthew Stafford reunion in the Motor City. As much as it’s been great to see the Lions leap into the upper echelon of NFC teams, they get a terrible matchup against an underdog Rams squad who should light up the scoreboard against an overrated Detroit defense.

In the last NFC game, the Eagles complete their historic — and frankly, entertaining — implosion with a loss to Baker Mayfield and the Bucs. Do I think the Eagles should be a complete afterthought now that the locker room is fractured and Jalen Hurts’ finger points in a different direction? No. But a man can hope, can’t he?

Chris Landers, Deputy MLB Editor

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins
No. 4 Houston Texans over No. 5 Cleveland Browns

Do I feel great about going all chalk here? Absolutely not, but I have no choice but to trust my instincts. I’d be a lot more concerned about the Steelers turning this into a Mike Tomlin Special if T.J. Watt were available; as it is, I think we get enough of Good Josh Allen for Buffalo to advance.

I will remain skeptical about the Dolphins in cold weather — and I mean really, really cold, if Kansas City’s weekend forecast is to be believed — until proven otherwise, and I will always default to the team that employs Patrick Mahomes, even if this year’s version really doesn’t seem to have the juice. Steve Spagnuolo and negative temps should be enough to stifle Tua and the gang.

Maybe this is a year too early for the Texans, but CJ Stroud certainly isn’t playing like it, and I think Bobby Slowik’s offense matches up quite nicely with what Jim Schwartz and Co. want to do defensively. Joe Flacco’s extreme reliance on play-action shots is a whole lot of fun when it’s cooking — and we’ve seen what can happen when he runs hot in the playoffs — but it also leaves Cleveland without a Plan B to move the ball when it’s not there. DeMeco Ryans is too good, and some Browns injury concerns have me wary.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions
No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles

Dak and the ‘Boys have cooled a bit of late offensively, and I do think Green Bay has a real shot at pulling this off if Jordan Love runs hot, but the Packers defense is still very hard to trust and in the end I think Dallas’ talent advantage wins out. (If it doesn’t, though, it feels like everything is on the table for Jerry Jones.)

I really, really wanted to pull the trigger on the Lions here, and as an impartial observer I’d love to see them finally snap the playoff winless drought. But I have to find an upset somewhere, and I think this is our best bet: Matthew Stafford is cooking too well right now, and Aaron Glenn’s defense has been too beatable. I think Detroit is the team with the biggest delta in these entire playoffs — it wouldn’t surprise me if they were bounced on Wild Card weekend or made it all the way to the Super Bowl. These are the Lions, though, and I’ve been burned one too many times before.

Maybe the Eagles have a rebound them, but would you really like to bet on Matt Patricia? This Philly defense has no answers right now, via schematics or personnel, and Tampa has just enough juice at home to send them into an offseason full of tough questions.

Grace McDermott, Staff Writer

AFC

No. 2 Buffalo Bills over No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers
No. 3 Kansas City Chiefs over No. 6 Miami Dolphins
No. 5 Cleveland Browns over No. 4 Houston Texans

The Bills hit the ground running at exactly the right time this season. They are the team to beat right now, and the Steelers will struggle to do so. Of course, the weather in Buffalo could throw a wrench into the Bills’ usual play-calling, but they won’t have trouble taking care of the Mason Rudolph-led Steelers.

While the Dolphins-Chiefs forecast has now gotten so frigid that the “cold weather advantage” is effectively neutralized, as both teams will be suffering, I still think the Chiefs take this one. The Dolphins are 1-5 against teams with winning records this season and already lost to the Chiefs at Arrowhead. They went out with something of a whimper in the regular season.

The Browns-Texans game is the only AFC Wild Card game not getting played in extreme weather, but that also may make it the best game of the weekend in the division. The Texans lost to the Browns 36-22 without CJ Stroud in December, and as many have pointed out, Stroud doesn’t play defense. This should be a fun one, but Joe Flacco and the Browns have too much momentum on their side right now to slow down.

NFC

No. 2 Dallas Cowboys over No. 7 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 Los Angeles Rams over No. 3 Detroit Lions
No. 5 Philadelphia Eagles over No. 4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Packers won’t go down easy here. Ultimately, the Cowboys have more talent and experience on their side, which will put them over the top in front of a home crowd, but Dallas lost two of their last four games and almost lost a third in that stretch. They will need to step things up to continue any further into the playoffs.

The Rams-Lions matchup brings plenty of drama as Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford face off against their former teammates. Despite the Rams’ lower seed, though, I like them to pull this one off. The Lions will struggle to contain Stafford with an inconsistent defense.

Despite the Eagles’ struggles as of late, they should still pull off a win against the NFC South champion. Baker Mayfield is dealing with injuries, and the Buccaneers fell 25-11 to the Eagles earlier this season. Like the Cowboys, though, Philadelphia will need to pull it together if they hope to continue any further into the postseason.