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NFL Wild Card weekend: Saints, Jags favored

The NFL Wild Card weekend continues on Sunday afternoon with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the Buffalo Bills, and the Carolina Panthers visiting the New Orleans Saints.

Buffalo and Jacksonville have not seen each other this season, while the Saints are looking to beat the Panthers for the third and final time this year. New Orleans might be the bets team playing this weekend, with hopes of getting a second Super Bowl ring for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

So who is going to win on Sunday? Let’s break down the contests…

Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (-9)

Jacksonville is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1999, while the Bills are in the postseason for the first time since 1999. The Jaguars are heavy favorites and for good reason, buoyed by a defense that has a top-flight pair of corners in A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey on the outside. Considering the Bills don’t have a single receiver that went over 500 yards on the year, Buffalo is going to be hard-pressed to throw the ball outside the numbers.

So how do the Jaguars lose this game? Jacksonville has to be concerned about quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles, who played very well in the beginning of December, threw five interceptions over his last two games of the regular season, both resulting in defeats.

However, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone is smart enough to understand that the only way Buffalo wins is a donation or two from Bortles. Look for the Jaguars to play a very conservative game and come away with the win.

Pick: Jacksonville 13, Buffalo 9

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-7)

Can Cam Newton finally get things going against the Saints? The 2015 NFL MVP has struggled mightily against this particular NFC South foe, throwing a combined two touchdowns with three interceptions in these games. Newton has also failed to throw for 200 yards in either game, but resulting in tough losses.

If the Saints can keep running the ball with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, the Panthers are going to have a very hard time finding a way to advance. Carolina has to flow to the ball led by Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly, forcing New Orleans into obvious passing situations. If that doesn’t happen, the Panthers are in a world of hurt down in the Bayou.

In the end, the Panthers should play tough but it’s hard seeing them fixing so many of the issues that had them fall twice in this matchup previously. New Orleans will play on and maybe threaten for another Super Bowl appearance.

Pick: New Orleans 30, Carolina 20

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