NFL wild-card playoffs predictions: Which teams will win and why

Here are our NFL Nation reporters' predictions for this weekend's wild-card games:


Kansas City Chiefs: There's not a lot to choose from between the Chiefs and Texans. The Chiefs have the better quarterback, and Alex Smith needs to play like it. Otherwise, the game looks close and could come down to turnovers. If it does, the advantage goes to Kansas City. The Chiefs were second in the league in turnover margin at plus-14. Chiefs 20, Texans 16. -- Adam Teicher

Houston Texans: Throw out anything you learned in the Texans' Week 1 loss to the Chiefs. Both teams are completely different now, with the Chiefs on a 10-game winning streak and the Texans 7-2 in their past nine games. The Texans' defense has driven Houston's turnaround, not allowing a touchdown in five of those nine games. That unit will carry the team in Saturday's game. Texans 20, Chiefs 16. -- Tania Ganguli


Pittsburgh Steelers: Psychology reversed. The Bengals break through in a big way with AJ McCarron staying poised and turnover-free throughout. This seems like a different Bengals team, and Cincinnati is healthier than Pittsburgh. The loss of DeAngelo Williams can't be overstated. The Steelers thrive off creating turnovers, and if they can't create them, getting off the field on third down becomes an issue. The Steelers will get their explosive plays, but they won't be enough to offset Cincinnati's balance. Bengals 27, Steelers 24. -- Jeremy Fowler

Cincinnati Bengals: We know the Bengals' playoff record: 0-6 since 2005 and winless in the postseason since the 1990 season. We also know how Pittsburgh has owned the Bengals inside Paul Brown Stadium, sporting a 14-3 record in 17 all-time meetings there. But ESPN's Football Power Index has the Bengals a 51 percent favorite to win. The Bengals' locker room all week has been looser than I’ve seen before past playoff games, and you get the impression these guys have a chance, even with a backup expected to start at quarterback. After all, the Bengals and their second-ranked scoring defense held Pittsburgh's high-octane offense in check in Week 8. In a rain-soaked defensive struggle, they will again. Bengals 17, Steelers 13. -- Coley Harvey


Seattle Seahawks: In the final seven games of the regular season, Russell Wilson completed 71 percent of his passes, averaged 8.78 yards per attempt and threw 24 touchdowns against one interception. It's difficult to pick against him right now. The frigid temperatures could affect the style of the game, and the Vikings could steal a victory with a defensive or special-teams touchdown. But this is a good matchup for the Seahawks, and they should advance to face the Carolina Panthers. Seahawks 24, Vikings 13. -- Sheil Kapadia

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings had their worst game of the year against the Seahawks on Dec. 6, losing 38-7 with four defensive starters out. All four of them should return, and that along with Sunday's temperature, projected to be in the single digits at kickoff, should keep Wilson from accounting for 325 yards of offense this time. But it's tough to imagine the Vikings' 31st-ranked passing game getting the job done against a defense that has allowed 444 passing yards in its past three games. If the Seahawks build an early lead again, they might be able to take Adrian Peterson out of the game. Seahawks 24, Vikings 14. -- Ben Goessling


Green Bay Packers: You can't ignore all the offensive struggles of the regular season, but the Packers will still have the best player on the field: quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Consider that the Redskins went 0-3 against teams that finished with winning records and that their defense was ranked 28th overall (31st against the run, 25th against the pass), and it's easy to see why Rodgers could be the biggest difference-maker. Packers 21, Redskins 16. -- Rob Demovsky

Washington Redskins: The Redskins have won four straight but did not beat a team that finished the regular season with a winning record. In the past 10 games, the Redskins went 7-3, whereas Green Bay went 4-6. During that time, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was the NFL’s second-rated passer and had the fifth-best QBR. Meanwhile, Rodgers was the 28th-rated passer and 19th in QBR. The Redskins are playing with confidence; the Packers are wondering if they can turn it around. Redskins 24, Packers 21. -- John Keim