Six of the seven teams were set, but it took the final weekend of the 2021 regular season before we knew all seven Playoff teams in the NFC and what seeds they would be.
The Green Bay Packers wrapped up the #1 seed in the NFC for the second straight year and captured home field advantage throughout the Playoffs. They also get to sit back and enjoy the Wild Card round off due to earning a bye week from finishing first in the conference.
The NFC West was shocked in Week 18 when the 49ers made an epic rally to beat the Rams and earn the final Playoff spot. However, due to the Cardinals losing, the Rams backed their way into the postseason as the divisional champs.
The Buccaneers and Cowboys flexed their muscles in the final weekend of the season as they both won by more than three touchdowns and secured top seeds in the Playoffs.
Let’s huddle up to examine the NFC’s side of the Playoffs by taking a look at the latest odds from NFL betting sites and making some Wild Card game predictions.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over 49 (-110)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Under 49 (-110)
Philadelphia Eagles 2021 Season
The Philadelphia Eagles started off the season going 2-5 and being left for dead in a dreadful NFC East division. Most critics chalked this season up to a rebuilding year and forgot all about Philadelphia.
But, a funny thing happened along the way as the Eagles changed up their identity to become a run oriented offense and success soon followed. Philly would go 7-2 down the stretch and clinch a Playoff spot in Week 17 of the season.
Their loss in Week 18 to Dallas didn’t mean much because they were in the postseason no matter what. They rested their key players and hope to get a few more back for this Wild Card game against the Buccaneers.
Philly finished the year as the top running team in the league as they averaged 159.7 yards per game. It was a remarkable remaking of this offense that really took the pressure off 2nd year QB Jalen Hurts. The team ended up 12th in scoring at 26.1 points per game.
Defensively, the Eagles finished 10th in yards allowed (328.8ypg), 11th against the pass (220.9ypg), 9th against the run (107.9ypg) and 18th in points allowed (22.6ppg). These were all surprising rankings for a team that did a lot of work to their roster in the offseason due to salary cap issues.
Philly Playoff Experience
Philly is 23-23 all-time in the Playoffs having gone 4-2 in their last six appearances. In the Wild Card Round, the Eagles are 8-9 all-time. They’ve gone 1-1 in their last two Wild Card appearances.
Philly lost in the 2019 Wild Card Round to Seattle, but won against the Bears in the 2018 Playoffs. It was in the 2017 postseason that the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. That year, the team had a first round bye.
The Eagles have made the Playoffs in four of the last five years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2021 Season
Coming into this season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were heavy favorites to repeat as NFC Champions and return to the Super Bowl. They started off 6-1, but a few losses had critics questioning if they could repeat.
A 7-1 stretch to close out the season erased all doubts about this team and earned Tampa Bay the #2 seed in the NFC.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the NFL playoffs https://t.co/8125YKMwDE
This team is clearly led by the ageless wonder Tom Brady who finished the year with the most passing yards at 5,316. He also had the most TD passes and the 2nd highest QBR. Brady is a finalist for this year’s NFL MVP award and rightfully so.
Due to Brady’s success, the Bucs finished 2nd in total yards (405.9ypg), 1st in passing yards (307.6ypg), and 2nd in scoring (31.2ppg.)
The defense finished 13th in yards allowed (331.5ypg), 21st against the pass (238.9ypg), 3rd against the run (92.5ypg) and 5th in points allowed (20.8ppg).
Bucs Playoff Experience
Tampa Bay is 10-9 all-time in the Playoffs, but just 2-5 in the Wild Card Round. They’re 1-2 in their last three Wild Card games. However, this is the defending Super Bowl champion who started off as a Wild Card team last year and won four postseason games to become world champs.
This will be Tampa’s second consecutive Playoff appearance and just their 2nd since 2007. The Bucs ended a 12 year postseason drought last year.
Head to Head Trends
These two teams have played against each other 20 total times and are tied at 10 wins apiece. They did face off in the 2021 regular season where the Buccaneers defeated the Eagles 28-22.
That game was a tale of two halves as the Bucs led 21 to 7 at halftime, but Philly outscored Tampa 15 to 7 in the second half and had a chance to win the game.
The Buccaneers have won three straight matchups against Philly, but the series is tied 4-4 in games at Tampa Bay.
Sunday’s Wild Card matchup will be the 5th time that these two teams have played against each other in the postseason, which marks the most common Playoff opponent for Tampa Bay. It’s the first Playoff matchup since the 2002 NFC Championship game where Tampa won 27 to 10.
Tampa also beat the Eagles in their first ever franchise Playoff game which came in the 1979 Divisional Round. However, the Eagles are 2-0 against Tampa Bay in the Wild Card Round having beat the Bucs in 2000 and 2001. Both of those games were in Philly.
Here’s a quick look at their last 10 head to head games:
Bucs are 6-4 SU
Both teams are 5-5 ATS
The Over is 6-4
The Eagles are 4-2 ATS in their last six games against the Bucs, but 3-6 SU in their last nine games against Tampa Bay.
Eagles vs. Buccaneers Prediction
This is a game where strength faces strength as Philly’s #1 rushing attack takes on the Buccaneers’ #3 rush defense.
Unfortunately, the Eagles might not be a full strength in the backfield as both Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are questionable for this contest. Both running backs missed the final game of the regular season. Sanders has missed the last few games.
For the Bucs, they are a bit thin at the receiver position with the departure of Brown and Godwin being on IR. It appears that Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson are expected to step up in this passing attack as both receivers finished with five receptions apiece in Week 18.
When the postseason starts, you can cue up Rob Gronkowski as he and Brady seem to be on another level in the Playoffs. Gronk finished the regular season with 7 catches for 137 yards in the Week 18 game and is poised for a big showing this postseason.
Although the Eagles have a Top 10 defense, I don’t see them slowing down the Bucs high powered offense at home.
I see Brady and company getting out to a big lead again and the Eagles slowly chipping away. In the end, I believe Tampa Bay will win this game in convincing fashion by the score of 30 to 20. Take the Bucs to cover the spread and for the Over to hit as well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30, Philadelphia Eagles 20
San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
San Francisco 49ers
Over 51 (-110)
Under 51 (-110)
San Francisco 49ers 2021 Season
San Francisco’s season was a tale of two halves as they started off the year 3-5 having lost four of five games and looking like there’s no chance that this team could make the postseason as predicted in the preseason.
But, the San Francisco 49ers kept fighting and went 7-2 in the second half of the season including that crazy comeback victory against the Rams in Overtime in Week 18 to earn San Francisco a spot in the Playoffs.
The game against the Rams was a great example of how their overall season went. The 49ers were lifeless in the first half of the game, but stormed back in the second half and won in OT.
With all of the controversy over who’s playing QB and the numerous injuries that this team had to endure, San Francisco was able to secure the #6 seed in the NFC.
Despite all of the struggles on the field, this offense still finished 7th in total yards (375.7ypg), 12th in passing (248.3ypg), 7th in rushing (127.4ypg), and 13th in scoring (25.1ppg).
Their star player on offense was Deebo Samuel who finished 5th in receiving yards at 1,405 yards. He also added 365 rushing yards and had 14 total touchdowns, which was tied for 7th in the league.
Defensively, the 49ers quietly put together a strong season as they were 3rd in yards allowed (310ypg), 6th against the pass (206.5ypg), 7th against the run (103.5ypg), and 10th in points allowed (21.5ppg).
49ers Playoff Experience
The 49ers have one of the best postseason marks with a 33-22 record. Additionally, they have a solid 4-2 record in the Wild Card Round with two straight victories.
Their last Wild Card appearance came in 2013 when they beat the Packers. Prior to that, the last Wild Card appearance was in 2002 where they beat the Giants.
The 49ers missed the postseason last year after making a run to the Super Bowl in 2019 and falling short against the Chiefs. That was their second SB appearance in the last eight years. They also have four Conference Championship appearances in the last decade.
Dallas Cowboys 2021 Season
After starting 6-1 on the season, with just a last second FG loss against Tampa in Week 1 as their only blemish, it was clear that Dallas was the cream of the crop in the NFC East.
Yet, they also became legitimate contenders in the NFC with a real shot at winning the #1 seed in the conference. Unfortunately, a Week 17 loss to the Cardinals spoiled those plans and the team had to settle for the #3 seed.
The Dallas Cowboys have arguably the best offense in the NFL according to the stats. They’re #1 in yards (407ypg), #2 in passing (282.4ypg), 9th in rushing (124.6ypg), and #1 in scoring (31.2ppg).
And, remarkably, the offense accomplished all of that success without one of their players finishing in the Top 5 for QB, RB, or WR.
Dallas’ success this season was largely due to their turnaround on defense. The offense has been a juggernaut over the last few years, but they’ve been working with one of the worst defenses in the league until this season.
The Cowboys were 19th in yards allowed (351ypg), 20th against the pass (238.2ypg), 16th against the run (112.8ypg) and 7th in points allowed (21.1ppg).
This bend, but don’t break defense was near-last in all categories last season. Another category that really helped turn this team around was turnover differential as they lead the league at +14.
Dallas was the best in the NFL as they forced 34 turnovers including a league leading 26 INTs. Trevon Diggs finished with 11 INTs this year and rookie Micah Parsons finished with 13 sacks.
Cowboys Playoff Experience
Dallas is 35-28 all-time in the Playoffs. They’re also 7-5 all-time in the Wild Card Round. Both of those records are among the best in NFL history.
The team has missed the last two postseasons, which cost Jason Garrett his job after the 2019 season. Their last Wild Card appearance came in 2018 and they beat the Seahawks. Dallas has won three straight Wild Card games.
Their last Wild Card Round defeat came in 2007 against the New York Giants.
Head to Head Trends
These two teams have played against each other 27 total times with Dallas holding the advantage at 19-17-1. Dallas is 6-1 in the last seven meetings. The Cowboys are 9-8-1 at home all-time against the 49ers including 3-2 in their last five home contests.
These two teams really became rivals in the 1980’s and it heated up to new levels in the 1990s when they played against each other in three straight NFC Championship games. Their last Playoff battle was the 1994 NFC Championship game that the 49ers won.
However, Dallas beat the 49ers in the 1992 and 1993 NFC Championship games and are 5-2 all-time against San Francisco in the postseason.
Their last head-to-head meeting came in 2020 when Dallas won at home by the score of 41 to 33.
Here’s a quick look at their last 10 head to head games:
Dallas is 7-3 SU
Cowboys are 5-3-2 ATS
The Over is 8-2
The 49ers are 1-6 SU in the last seven meetings between these teams including 1-4-1 ATS in their last six matchups. The Over has gone 7-1 in the last eight Dallas home games against the 49ers.
49ers vs. Cowboys Prediction
If Dallas was playing any other Wild Card team, I would’ve automatically jumped on them to win. But, the 49ers are going to be a tough matchup for the Cowboys this weekend and could pull off the upset.
Dallas gives up 4.5 yards per rushing attempt, over 116 rushing yards per game, and allowed 100 or more rushing yards in 11 of their last 12 games on the season. The 49ers finished 7th in rushing at just over 127 yards per game.
On the flip side, Dallas put up 50+ points in two of their last three games and led the league in scoring at 31.2ppg. Yet, the 49ers have held their last five opponents to under 25 points and were 7th in the league in points allowed at 21.1ppg.
This 49ers team is more battle tested than the Cowboys in regards to the postseason. Furthermore, they are a more complete team on both sides of the ball.
San Francisco has the ground game to control the clock and keep Dallas off the field. Additionally, they have the defense to match up against Dallas’ juggernaut offense.
I really see this game going either way. With that said, I am going to lean towards Dallas to win at home 23-20.
If the Cowboys offensive line can play to their full potential, then they should neutralize the 49ers front seven, which will help them stay on the field and score points.
I also believe that Dallas’ pass rush is going to disrupt Jimmy G. who’s still dealing with a thumb injury. Eventually, they will force Jimmy to commit a few turnovers and that will be the difference in this exciting matchup.
Whichever way the spread goes a half point (3.5 for the 49ers or 2.5 for Dallas) take that half point. Because I believe this will be a game decided by 3 points or less. Also, go with the Under.
Dallas Cowboys 23, San Francisco 49ers 20
Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Over 49.5 (-110)
Los Angeles Rams
Under 49.5 (-110)
Arizona Cardinals 2021 Season
The Arizona Cardinals got off to a great start this season going 7-1 and being the last unbeaten team on the year. Unfortunately, they stumbled in the second half of the year as they went 4-5 in their final nine games. In fact, they went 1-4 in their final five games of the season.
However, unlike last year where their second half collapse cost them a spot in the Playoffs, the Cardinals were able to make their way into the postseason by clinching a spot in Week 17 with a win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Arizona’s offense led the way this season as they finished 8th in total yardage (373.6ypg), 10th in passing (251.5ypg), 10th in rushing (122.1ypg) and 11th in scoring (26.4ppg).
The big surprise for this offense was the free agent signing of James Connor who finished with 752 rushing yards, but was 3rd in scoring with 18 total touchdowns.
Defensively, Arizona made strides which helped this team secure a Playoff birth. The Cardinals finished 11th in yards allowed (328.2ypg), 7th against the pass (214.4ypg), 21st against the run (114.8ypg) and 11th in points allowed (21.5ppg).
This was a Top 10 defense for most of the year even after losing star defensive lineman JJ Watt for the season.
Cardinals Playoff Experience
The Cardinals are 7-9 all-time in the postseason. This is their first appearance in six years when they made it to the NFC Championship game, but lost to the Panthers in 2015.
Arizona is 3-2 in the Wild Card Round, but 2-1 in their last three Wild Card games. It’s been seven years since they had a Wild Card game and they lost to the Panthers that appearance. Arizona defeated the Packers and the Falcons in their two prior Wild Card games in 2008 and 2009.
Los Angeles Rams 2021 Season
There was a lot of hype for the Los Angeles Rams heading into the season due to acquiring Matthew Stafford in the offseason for Jared Goff and picks. For the most part, Stafford has lived up to the hype. Albeit, there have been some rough stretches for him this year.
The Rams were 7-1 at the halfway point this season, but have gone 5-4 in the second half of the season including a three game losing streak. Yet, they did go 5-1 down the stretch and should’ve won in Week 18, but the 49ers pulled off a shocking comeback win.
The loss to the 49ers almost cost Los Angeles the NFC West division, but the Cardinals also lost which allowed the Rams to win the NFC West crown and the 4th seed in the Playoffs.
Offensively, the Rams have been a Top 10 unit for most of the season as they’re 9th in total yards (372.1ypg), 5th in passing yards (273.1ypg), 25th in rushing (99ypg), and 8th in scoring (27.1ppg).
Where they fell short of the mark this year was with their defense. This was a unit that led the NFL last year.
Unfortunately, they dropped in all major categories this season including finishing 17th in yards allowed (344.9ypg), 22nd against the pass (241.7ypg), 6th against the run (103.2ypg) and 15th in scoring (21.9ppg).
What makes this even more alarming was the fact that they added Von Miller to the mix via trade and the defense has still struggled at times. With that said, they did improve down the stretch and held opponents to 23 points or less in five of their last six games.
Rams Playoff Experience
The Rams are 22-27 all-time in the Playoffs. This is their 4th postseason trip in the last five years. Los Angeles is 4-6 in the Wild Card Round with their last appearance coming last year as they beat Seattle. Since 2000, the Rams are 2-2 in Wild Card Games.
Head to Head Trends
The Los Angeles Rams hold the advantage in this series with an all-time record of 46-39-2 and have won nine of the last 10 meetings.
However, they’re just 23-22 all-time in home games against the Cardinals. The Rams are 4-1 in the last five home games against Arizona, but did lose to them in LA this season.
The Rams and Cardinals split their two games in 2021 with each team winning on the road. The Cardinals stomped the Rams in Week 4 by the score of 37-20. The Rams got revenge in Week 14 as they won 30-23.
Despite playing against each other 87 times, these two divisional rivals have only faced off once in the postseason. That game took place in the 1975 Divisional Round and the Rams won that game at home by the score of 35 to 23.
Here’s a quick look at their last 10 head to head games:
Rams are 9-1 SU
Rams are 8-1-1 ATS
The Over/Under is 5-5
Despite the struggles against the Rams overall, Arizona is 11-5 in their last 16 games at Los Angeles. The Over has gone 4-1 in the last five meetings.
Cardinals vs. Rams Prediction
The NFC West will be in the spotlight on Wild Card weekend as these two teams will play each other in the first Monday Night Football Playoff game possibly ever.
It’s really hard to predict a winner between these two teams as they’ve both looked like the best in the NFC during stretches and a sub-500 teams during other periods.
Ultimately, I believe this game will come down to how well Matthew Stafford takes care of the ball. He’s had too many turnovers down the stretch and it has become not only a concern, but a liability as well.
Just look at the Week 18 game against the 49ers where his interception in OT cost the Rams the game. If he turns the ball over two or more times then the Cardinals will win.
With that said, the Rams are 9-1 against the Cardinals in the last 10 meetings. Arizona beat Los Angeles this season when they had star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. It remains doubtful that both Hopkins and JJ Watt can return for the Playoffs. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be close to full strength.
The Rams have more playmakers on both sides of the ball and I expect those talented players to step up in this game especially the trio on defense of Donald, Miller and Ramsey.
I also believe Cooper Kupp will have a big game as well. But, the Rams really need to establish the run in order to take some pressure off of Stafford. Fortunately, Arizona has the 21st ranked rush defense which should bode well for Los Angeles.
This will be a close contest, but I like the Rams to win by a field goal or less. Take the Cardinals to cover the spread and for the Over to hit.
Los Angeles Rams 27, Arizona Cardinals 24
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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