Who Will Lead NFL Wild-Card Weekend In Passing, Rushing, Receiving?

Photo: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Super wild-card weekend is just days away and we're filled with excitement. The matchups taking place on Saturday through Monday should provide quality entertainment in abundance. A pair of divisional contests will dominate the headlines as the Arizona Cardinals will travel to SoFi Stadium for the second time this season to encounter the Los Angeles Rams. In the AFC, the New England Patriots will square off with their arch-nemesis Buffalo Bills. These two games highlight what should be an unpredictable wild-card weekend filled with jaw-dropping moments and awe-inspiring results.

A plethora of superstars will take the field this weekend including Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Mike Evans, Darren Waller, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Deebo Samuel, Kyler Murray, George Kittle, and Joe Burrow, just to name a few. These players will put their best foot forward in attempts of ushering their teams one game closer to capturing football’s ultimate prize.

We're undeniably in store for some high-scoring and stat-driven contests. With that said, we've predicted who will lead wild-card weekend in passing yards, rushing yards, and receiving yards.

PASSING YARDS: JOE BURROW, QB, CINCINNATI BENGALS

You'd be hard-pressed to find a quarterback that's entering the postseason in finer form than Joe Burrow. Across his final two regular-season starts, the former LSU Tiger accounted for an astounding 971 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns while completing 78.65% of his passing attempts. It arguably represents the best two-game stretch of quarterback play in NFL history.

Burrow strung together an excellent campaign that extended far beyond a miniscule two-game sample size. The Comeback Player of the Year candidate finished first in completion percentage among all starters (70.4%), sixth in passing yards (4,611), and eighth in touchdowns (34). Saturday's postseason contest against the Las Vegas Raiders promises to be a high-scoring affair as both of these offenses are fully capable of putting up points in bunches. BetOnline recently set the O/U at a healthy 49 and it's easy to envision this game surpassing that total. Both Burrow and Derek Carr are going to sling the ball around in hopes of propelling their teams to the next round of the postseason. It should lead to an excellent showing from Burrow statistically.

RUSHING YARDS: ELIJAH MITCHELL, RB, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Few teams commit themselves to running the football like the 49ers do. One of the most successful and efficient rushing teams in the postseason, the 49ers are currently averaging a healthy 127.4 rushing yards per contest. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and offensive coordinator (and former run game coordinator/specialist) Mike McDaniel pride themselves on their ability to successfully build their offense around a multi-faceted rushing attack. Shanahan's scheme has allowed the 49ers to run the ball effectively while navigating through several difficult injuries in their backfield throughout the years.

Elijah Mitchell is expected to earn the bulk of the carries in Sunday's showdown against the Dallas Cowboys. He enters the postseason in fine form. Mitchell accounted for 204 rushing yards while averaging a healthy 4.85 yards per carry across San Francisco's two final regular-season games. Mitchell will encounter a meddling Cowboys run defense that allows 112.8 rushing yards per showing. Mitchell's ability paired with Shanahan's run-first mentality and Dallas' struggles to defend the run could lead to a huge game statistically.

RECEIVING YARDS: COOPER KUPP, WR, LOS ANGELES RAMS

The NFL's leader in receiving yards (1,947), receptions (145), and receiving touchdowns (16) should receive plenty of opportunities to continue his dream-like campaign well into the postseason. Kupp flirted with both the all-time single-season receptions record held by Michael Thomas (149) and all-time single-season receiving yards record by Calvin Johnson (1,964) while quickly catapulting himself into the “best receiver in the league” conversation. 

Kupp has strung together a breathtaking campaign while quickly becoming Matthew Stafford's favorite target in Los Angeles. Monday night's primetime postseason contest against their division rival Arizona Cardinals has the potential to be a shootout. With Kyler Murray on the other side, the Rams are going to have to score points in bunches. It could lead to a scenario where these two heated rivals spend the majority of the contest trading seven points and possessions. 

That type of outcome would keep Kupp extremely busy in the passing game and it wouldn't be shocking to see the former Eastern Washington receiver accumulate somewhere between 13-17 targets. As we've seen throughout the 2021 campaign, Kupp is capable of doing a ton of damage when receiving that kind of workload.

Written By:

Justin Melo

Staff Writer

Justin Melo is an NFL draft analyst that cut his teeth at The Draft Breakdown and USA Today's Draft Wire. He specializes in interviewing prospects, but also produces big boards, mock drafts, and scouting reports. He also covers the Tennessee Titans nationally for Broadway Sports Media and SB Nation.

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