The tournament begins now.
After 16 weeks of regular season football, the NFL playoffs begin this weekend — and all bets are off. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Every team now has the same record: 0-0.
Quite simply, it's a recipe for outrageousness.
Outrageous Predictions for NFL Wild Card Weekend
Connor Cook throws for more than 300 yards against the Texans
The rookie out of Michigan State will get the start for the Raiders this weekend, but fans of the Silver and Black should not be too nervous. Cook is no stranger to big games, nor is he a stranger to big-time performances in those games. He'll be asked to simply distribute the ball to a cast of skill position players that will be a mismatch for the Houston linebackers and secondary. When it's all said and done, the Raiders will be victorious and Cook's efficient day will be a big reason why.Le'Veon Bell sets the single-game rushing record for the playoffs
The Patriots may have exposed the Dolphin run defense a week ago. They didn't run the ball often, but when they did, they had success at over four yards per carry. Anything New England's backfield can do, Le'Veon Bell can do better. When you consider the attention that the Miami defense will pay to Pittsburgh's elite Ben Roethlisberger-to-Antonio Brown connection, Bell will have plenty of room to operate. Once the Steelers jump out early in what figures to be a cold afternoon, look for Bell and the Pittsburgh offensive line to pound the Dolphins into submission.
The Packers and Giants combine for two total touchdowns
Sure, these are two high-powered offenses that like to chuck the ball around the field — and to some elite weapons. That said, when the sun goes down about an hour after kickoff, the darkness is going to bring bone-chilling cold weather with it, putting an exclamation point on every bit of contact between these two storied franchises. Forget the two high-profile quarterbacks. The team whose running game and special teams play better will win this one.
Matthew Stafford silences Seattle
The Seahawks were not fantastic against the pass over the last quarter of the regular season. Stafford will lead Detroit's explosive passing attack into CenturyLink Field playing with house money. Look for the gunslinger to target former Seahawk Golden Tate early and often, turning the game into a shootout that Russell Wilson may not be ready to keep pace in.
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Connor Cook photo courtesy of Getty Images)