Mark Craig previews and predicts reunion-heavy NFL wild-card weekend

NFCPackers (9-8) at Cowboys (12-5)

Time (TV): 3:30 p.m. Sunday (FOX)

Line: Cowboys by 7½

The matchup: Second-seeded Dallas was the league's only 8-0 team at home and has won 16 straight at home, the second-longest streak in franchise history. The seventh-seeded Packers won three of their last four road games. Dallas' Dak Prescott threw a league-high 36 touchdown passes. Green Bay's Jordan Love was second with 32.

Did you know? Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy is 29-9 at AT&T Stadium, including 4-0 as Packers coach.

Prediction: Love is the first Packers QB to lead his team to the playoffs in his first full season as a starter since at least 1945. Green Bay is the youngest team in the league and the youngest to reach the playoffs since the 1977 Bears. Hats off, but Green Bay isn't ready for the buzzsaw that awaits. Cowboys 34, Packers 21

Rams (10-7) at Lions (12-5)

Time (TV): 7:15 p.m. Sunday (NBC, Peacock)

Line: Lions by 3½

The matchup: Matthew Stafford returns to Ford Field as a Super Bowl champion to face Jared Goff, the player the Lions got as essentially a throw-in part of the 2021 blockbuster trade. Division champions for the first time in 30 years, third-seeded Detroit is the only team to rank in the top five in scoring, yards, rushing, passing and fewest sacks allowed. The sixth-seeded Rams rank 19th in scoring defense, 20th in yards allowed.

Did you know? The Lions' last playoff win came on Jan. 5, 1992.

Prediction: No. 3 seeds always seem vulnerable (See: Vikings '22). The Lions are better than last year's Vikings, but Stafford and the Rams' passing attack present a really bad matchup for the Lions' pass defense right now. Rams 34, Lions 31

Eagles (11-6) at Buccaneers (9-8)

Time (TV): 7:15 p.m. Monday (ABC, ESPN)

Line: Eagles by 3½

The matchup: Two teams heading in opposite directions intersect. The fifth-seeded Eagles were 10-1 but have lost five of their last six while surrendering an average of 30.3 points with a minus-8 turnover differential. The fourth-seeded Bucs were 4-7 but have won five of their last six while holding teams to an average of 16.8 and posting a plus-3 turnover differential.

Did you know? Both franchises are .500 in the postseason: Philadelphia is 25-25, Tampa Bay 11-11.

Prediction: Momentum and home-field advantage will help the Bucs keep Philadelphia from righting its sinking ship. So the NFL's No. 1 question — "What's wrong with the Eagles?" – is about to become "What the heck happened to the Eagles?" Buccaneers 27, Eagles 24

AFCBrowns (11-6) at Texans (10-7)

Time (TV): 3:30 p.m. Saturday (NBC, Peacock)

Line: Browns by 2½

The matchup: Cleveland, the No. 5 seed, has used four starting quarterbacks while turning the ball over a league-high 37 times (minus-9 differential). Fourth-seeded Houston has turned the ball over only 14 times for a plus-10) differential while becoming the first team since 1966 to win its division with rookies at head coach (DeMeco Ryans) and quarterback (C.J. Stroud).

Did you know? Both teams finished last in their divisions a year ago. Combined record: 10-23-1.

Prediction: Joe Flacco, who turns 39 on Tuesday, is 4-1 as a starter after signing as a street free agent two months ago. He's as relaxed as anyone who's ever played with house money. Stroud is 22 and one of the most polished rookie QBs ever, but he'll probably crack first. Browns 21, Texans 17

Dolphins (11-6) at Chiefs (11-6)

Time (TV): 7:10 p.m. Saturday (Peacock)

Line: Chiefs by 4½

The matchup: Miami, not Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid, owns the No. 1-ranked offense (401.3 yards per game). The sixth-seeded Dolphins also have the No. 2 scoring attack (29.2). But the third-seeded Chiefs have one of the best defenses Reid has ever been a part of. It has 57 sacks and is allowing only 176.5 passing yards per game. It also ranks No. 2 in fewest points allowed (17.3).

Did you know?: Tua Tagovailoa became the first Dolphin to lead the league in passing yards (4,624) since Dan Marino in 1992.

Prediction: Mahomes and Reid have never been this vulnerable, and they're facing former Chiefs star Tyreek Hill. But home-field advantage, bitterly-cold temps and Miami's mountain of injuries will stave off elimination for one more week. Chiefs 30, Dolphins 24

Steelers (10-7) at Bills (11-6)

Time (TV): 3:30 p.m. Monday(CBS, Paramount+)

Line: Bills by 9½

The matchup: An old-fashioned Buffalo blizzard delayed this game one day. The weather could favor an inferior Steelers team that keeps refusing to die. Second-seeded Buffalo and superstar Josh Allen won five straight to win the AFC East. But seventh-seeded Pittsburgh and backup Mason Rudolph won three straight as the most unlikely playoff team in the field.

Did you know? ESPN Analytics gave Pittsburgh a 4% chance of making the playoffs after losing three in a row to fall to 6-8.

Prediction: This is exactly the kind of windy, sloppy fistfight the Steelers could win against a gunslinger like Allen and his 22 turnovers. But not having NFL sack leader T.J. Watt will cause Pittsburgh to fall just short. Bills 16, Steelers 12



No. 1 Ravens 34, No. 5 Browns 28

No. 2 Bills 27, No. 3 Chiefs 19


No. 1 49ers 24, No. 6 Rams 20

No. 2 Cowboys 31, No. 4 Buccaneers 17

Conference championships

AFC: No. 1 Ravens 31, No. 2 Bills 28

NFC: No. 2 Cowboys 28, No. 1 49ers 23

Super Bowl LVIII

Cowboys 34, Ravens 31