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The 2024 postseason is finally here. Eighteen weeks and 17 games played have led to this week. It's been a shocking week for the football world with Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll and Mike Vrabel all relieved of their head-coaching duties after all achieving strong -- historic in the case of Belichick and Carroll -- levels of success for their respective franchises. 

Given all the stunning revelations off the field, here are five bold predictions for what could happen between the lines on Super Wild Card Weekend, a slate that provides us games on Saturday, Sunday and even Monday night.  

1. Cowboys run defense stands tall vs. Jones, snaps RB's run of success

These two teams squared off a year ago in Week 10 of the 2022 season, and a struggling Packers team improved to 4-6 while a strong Dallas Cowboys squad dropped to 6-3 after the Green Bay Packers completed a 14-point fourth-quarterback comeback to win 31-28 in overtime. 

One of the driving forces for Green Bay's offense that day was running back Aaron Jones. He ran wild for 138 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, good for 5.8 yards per rush. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was determined to wear out a Cowboys defense much more well-equipped to defend the pass from the start, calling running plays on 16 of the Packers' first 21 plays from scrimmage on their first three drives of that game. 

In three of Dallas' five losses this season, the Cowboys have been bludgeoned on the ground, allowing at least 170 yards rushing in all three of those contests. In their 31-10 debacle at the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, the Cowboys surrendered 266 rushing yards, the most under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn since 2021. 

Bills running back James Cook totaled a career-high 179 rushing yards on 25 carries with a touchdown, a 24-yarder. That came out to a 7.2 yards-per-carry average in that game. In their upcoming matchup with Jones, the Cowboys defense will face the running back who has been the franchise's hardest to slow down: The El Paso native averages 123.3 rushing yards per game against Dallas, the most by any player with a minimum three games played, according to NFL Media Senior Researcher Tony Holzman-Escareno.

Most rush YPG vs. Cowboys all time (minimum three games played) 

PlayerRush YPGGames Played vs. Cowboys

Aaron Jones



Barry Sanders



Walter Payton



While historical trends are nice, Jones is also en fuego at the present moment. He has three consecutive games with over 100 rushing yards, the longest active streak in the NFL. After dealing with a nagging hamstring injury since Week 1 at the Chicago Bears, he is finally healthy. 

"Me and Micah [Parsons] have been playing great edge defense this whole year," Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said Thursday. "It's really about, if they want to run it, go ahead. We'll beat them there. It's really not a thing. It's really all about us. They have to come in here and keep up with our speed and our tenacity. Give him [Jones] the ball as many times as you want."

Green Bay did just that a year ago, but this time, the Cowboys defense follows Lawrence's lead. He graded out as the NFL's second-best edge defender against the run in 2023 with a 92.4 Pro Football Focus run defense grade, barely trailing Pro Bowl Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby (92.7). Jones gets limited to under 100 against the Cowboys for the first time in his career as Dallas finally wins at the line of scrimmage against the Packers. 

2. Mayfield, Buccaneers put slumping Eagles out of their misery

The defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles enter this postseason looking like anything and everything except that. They are just the second team all time to start 10-1 or better and conclude a season with five or more losses along with the 1986 New York Jets.

Since the start of December, the 9-8 NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Eagles (11-6) have been going in opposite directions. 

Buccaneers and Eagles (since start of December)











Despite those trends, Philadelphia is three-point road favorite. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts hasn't thrown a touchdown pass to his WR1 A.J. Brown in five consecutive games, highlighting a struggle-filled season in which he has thrown 15 interceptions. Hurts had just 19 interceptions combined in his first three seasons.

On the flip side, Baker Mayfield's 28 passing touchdowns and 4,044 passing yards are both his career highs, and he has Mike Evans co-leading the NFL in receiving touchdowns (13) along with Tyreek Hill. Tampa Bay has been the NFL's worst rushing offense, averaging only 88.8 yards per game in 2023, but it won't even matter. Mayfield will dominate a secondary and a team looking to pack it in for the year. 

"It might be a good thing to go on the road," Eagles cornerback Darius Slay said Thursday, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "They get to booing fast [in Philly]. Don't need the boos."

Mayfield delivers knockout punches like his last name his Holyfield and powers the Buccaneers to their first playoff win since the wild-card round from the 2021 season when Tom Brady shredded a young Eagles team filled with inexperience. Monday night will mark Mayfield's second playoff run of his work, but he will stay hot and throw multiple touchdown passes for the fifth time in the last six games. 

3. Diggs snaps career-long drought without 100 receiving yards

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is having another season that will earn him some NFL MVP votes. Oddly enough, Pro Bowl wide receiver Stefon Diggs is struggling despite Allen's success. He hasn't broken 100 yards receiving in 11 consecutive games, tied for the longest-such stretch of his career.

That has led to Diggs averaging 69.6 receiving yards per game, the lowest of his Bills career in addition to having five consecutive games without a touchdown. The chance of a weather-impacted game in Orchard Park, when Buffalo squares off against the seventh-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers, has been mostly eliminated with the matchup being moved to Monday due to the impending blizzard-like storm.

If you recall, Buffalo played a "Monday Night Football" home game against the New England Patriots on Dec. 6, 2021 in which the wind was blowing at 27 miles per hour with gusts that hit over 40 miles per hour during the game. The Bills lost that night 14-10, and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones attempted just three passes in the victory. Allen threw for 145 yards, a touchdown and lost a fumble while completing 15 of his 30 throws.

Even if wind is a factor this time, Diggs snaps his drought of games without 100 yards receiving anyways. NFL sacks leader (19.0) and Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt won't play, thanks to an MCL injury. He accounts for 40.4% of Pittsburgh's sacks and 33.6% of the Steelers' quarterback hits. Without Watt, Allen will have all day to throw, allowing him to help Diggs snap his slump, no matter what the weather conditions happen to be. 

4. Stroud lights up the Brown's top-ranked pass defense

Saturday features an unstoppable force (C.J. Stroud) and an unmovable object (the Browns defense). Stroud is the third player in the last 50 seasons to lead the NFL outright in passing yards per game (273.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (minimum 10 starts) along with Hall of Famer Joe Montana (1989) and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady (2007), but Cleveland allowed the fewest passing yards per game (164.7) and total yards per game (270.2) this season. 

The rookie also led the NFL in expected points per dropback against zone coverage this season, but he ranked 23rd in the league against man coverage. The Browns play man coverage at the highest rate in the league (41%) and allow the lowest completion percentage in man coverage (45%). Losing fellow rookie Tank Dell to a season-ending leg injury didn't help matters for Stroud as now only Nico Collins is Houston's lone, reliable man-coverage beater. 

However, Stroud has thrown for 311.7 passing yards per game, 18 touchdowns and two interceptions this season against teams with winning record. That's the third-best touchdown-to-interception ratio against winning teams since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger among those with a minimum of 200 pass attempts. He evades a slumping Myles Garrett (one sack in his last six games played) to put up big numbers against Cleveland this weekend. 

5. Goff exacts revenge on McVay, Rams by outplaying Stafford, leads Lions to first playoff win since 1991 season

Matthew Stafford returns to Detroit for the first time as a visitor with more wins (41), passing yards (23,051) and passing touchdowns (156) at Ford Field than all other Lions quarterback combined. 

He's flying high entering the reunion with his home of 12 seasons with an NFL-best 15 passing touchdowns from Weeks 12-17 (he didn't suit up in Week 18).  However, Jared Goff, his Lions successor and Rams predecessor, will outperform him for sweet, sweet revenge. This is Goff's first playoff start since a 32-18 defeat in the 2020 NFC divisional round at the Green Bay Packers. This time, Goff is back playing at home in Detroit where he has thrown 42 touchdowns and only nine interceptions over the last two years. 

Just two seasons ago, Stafford was busy going on a Super Bowl run while Goff went winless in his inaugural year with the Lions. Now, the roles reverse, and Goff tastes the postseason success with Stafford walking off Ford Field with a familiar feeling: disappointment.