NFL Wild Card Weekend: Scouting Every Offense, Key Matchups, More

Jan 03, 2019 08:56 PM EST

USA Today Sports. Pictured: T.Y. Hilton, Russell Wilson,
Melvin Gordon

  • The NFL playoffs kick off with four Wild Card Weekend matchups: Colts-Texans, Seahawks-Cowboys, Chargers-Ravens and Eagles-Bears.
  • Below are brief breakdowns of all eight teams' offenses as well as key matchups to know for fantasy and betting.

The NFL playoffs are finally here! Happy Wild Card szn!

The Houston Texans host the Indianapolis Colts to kick Wild Card Weekend off on Saturday (4:35 p.m. ET on ESPN) followed by the Seattle Seahawks-Dallas Cowboys matchup (8:15 p.m. on FOX). The action continues Sunday with the Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (1:05 p.m. ET on CBS), capped by Philadelphia Eagles-Chicago Bears (4:40 p.m. ET on NBC).

While it’s impossible to cover all the applicable storylines and statistics for the four wild-card matchups in one article, we can at least get an early start on what figures to be great two days of high-level football.

What follows are brief breakdowns on each team’s quarterback, backfield and receivers.

Jump to: Colts-Texans | Seahawks-Cowboys | Chargers-Ravens | Eagles-Bears

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck Is Better Than Ever

There was understandably plenty of pause surrounding Luck in the early weeks of the season after failing to show great arm strength or consistency over the team’s 1-5 start.

Well, the Colts have since won nine of 10 games en route to the plays thanks in large part to Luck, who deserves serious consideration for a top three MVP spot after arguably his best season to date.

  • Completion rate: 67.3% (11th among 32 QBs with 8+ starts in 2018)
  • Passing yards: 4,593 (5th)
  • Touchdowns: 39 (2nd)
  • TD Rate: 6.1% (6th)
  • Passer rating: 98.7 (10th)
  • Fantasy points: 327 (QB5)

Luck has thrown for multiple touchdowns in all but one of his 10 career starts against the Texans.

Marlon Mack Owns the Colts’ Backfield

Mack has worked as Indy’s undisputed starting running back since returning from injury in Week 6. Nyheim Hines has stayed involved as a receiver, but Mack has managed to record at least 15 combined rushes and targets in eight of his past 10 games.

The Texans Can’t Stop T.Y. Hilton

Luck has done a great job of spreading the ball around this season, but Hilton (76-1,270-6) and Eric Ebron (66-750-13) easily emerged as the offense’s top two receivers.

Hilton is set up particularly well against a Texans defense that he seems to take pleasure in torching.

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson’s First Two Seasons Are Special

We knew Watson was good after he balled out in his six starts as a rookie, but this season’s performance confirmed he’s here to stay.

Watson achieved most of this despite being limited with rib and lung injuries since Week 5. He could be used as a runner more often in upcoming must-win games as he totaled 17 designed rush attempts in Weeks 15-17 after only 24 such rushes in Weeks 1-14 (per ESPN’s Mike Clay).

Lamar Miller Just Had a Pretty Great 2018

Miller has never quite regained his Miami magic in his three years with the Texans. Still, this season’s version of Miller was the best we’ve seen in awhile considering he set three-year highs in yards per carry (4.6) and finished as the league’s No. 10 back in total yards created (PlayerProfiler).

The Texans’ three-down back will look to rebound against a Colts defense that has held him to underwhelming 14-49-0 and 14-33-1 rushing lines this season.

Can Anybody Slow DeAndre Hopkins Down?

Watson has fed Hopkins at least 10 targets in five consecutive games and the receiver has accordingly scored three touchdowns while racking up the most receptions (42) and the second-most yards (548) among all wide receivers.

Not every top-tier cornerback has traveled with Nuk during their respective matchups, but the league’s premier contested-catch artist has burned them all regardless.

Seattle Seahawks