15/12/2018

Sunday's NFL wild card preview, schedule

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Sunday's NFL wild card preview, schedule

A capsule preview of Sunday's NFL wild card games by World-Herald NFL editor John Rodino. Predictions not related to point spreads.

A capsule preview of Sunday's NFL wild card games by World-Herald NFL editor John Rodino. Predictions not related to point spreads.

A capsule preview of Sunday's NFL wild card games by World-Herald NFL editor John Rodino. Predictions not related to point spreads.

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AFC Wild Card

Bills (9-7) at Jaguars (10-6)

12:05 p.m. • CBS • 1620 AM

JAGUARS’ DEFENSE A TALL ORDER

Lowdown: This game could hinge on the running backs. Rookie Leonard Fournette had ankle and thigh troubles but is in good shape to help carry Jacksonville, which likes to pound it and rely on defense. LeSean McCoy, with a bad ankle, IS Buffalo’s offense — 1,138 yards rushing; he also leads the Bills in receptions. Mike Tolbert and Marcus Murphy — 73 carries combined — back up McCoy. It’s a tough matchup either way against the Jaguars’ AFC-leading defense, which is solid from front (sack artist Calais Campbell) to back (A.J. Bouye leads a talented secondary). The quarterbacks had to be looking over their shoulders. Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor was benched for a game in November. The Jags’ Blake Bortles improved, but rumors have several potential free agents replacing him next season.

Line: Jaguars by 8-1/2

Prediction: Jaguars 22-16

NFC Wild Card

Panthers (11-5) at Saints (11-5)

3:40 p.m. • Fox • 1620 AM

DIVISION RIVALS MEET IN ROUND 3

Lowdown: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has a Super Bowl ring, but the Saints haven’t been in the postseason since 2013. Carolina is back in the playoffs after a 6-10 slide in 2016, a season after a Super Bowl appearance. QB Cam Newton can be electrifying, but has been inconsistent in big games. The Saints swept their NFC South rival Panthers in the regular season. The Saints’ defense has improved with big years from end Cameron Jordan and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the seventh-ranked Carolina defense. New Orleans has a 1-2 running back punch of Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. Kamara and Panthers rookie back Christian McCaffrey also make an impact catching the ball.

Line: Saints by 7

Prediction: Saints 27-24