Here are my NFL Wild Card Picks
(10-6 last week, 156-98-2 for the season)
Bye teams: Kansas City, New England, Atlanta, Dallas
Oak @ Hou – It’s all over but the music for the Raiders, as a great season looks to come to a disastrous end. They lost Carr in Week 16, McGloin in Week 17, and will start rookie Cook at QB for the first week of the playoffs. Oh, and they’ll be on the road vs one of the leagues most physical defenses. There’s basically no way they walk away from this game alive, let alone with a win, but “any given Sunday” I guess, so maybe it’s too early to give up on Oakland quite yet. They are 6-2 on the road this season, they are capable of scoring points in bunches, I just don’t see that happening without Carr under center. And we haven’t even talked about the Texans yet, who might actually have improved after their QB change, but who also might have to change back. Osweiler benched for Savage, Savage now with a concussion, Osweiler perhaps to start Saturday; we’ll see how it shakes out. Either way, Houston is 7-1 at home, an advantage that can’t be ignored. Their offense doesn’t score a ton, which would be a concern against the Raiders in a normal game, but unfortunately for Oakland, this isn’t a normal situation.
Det @ Sea – The Lions lost their final game of the season vs the Packers, the only game of the week in the NFL that really mattered, and boy did it. Instead of hosting a game, they’re heading out on the road, and not just anywhere, but to dreaded Seattle, where few escape alive. If Detroit wanted to go far this postseason, last week’s matchup was the game to win, and they failed to do that. I think that spells the end of their chances, but perhaps Matt Stafford will have something to say about that. He’s been pulling games out in the 4th quarter all season, putting his team squarely on his shoulders, and the Seahawks aren’t invulnerable. A 7-1 record at home is pretty impressive though, and I can’t see them losing this game. Detroit might have the offense, but Seattle has the defense, and they’ve proven that they know exactly how to play in January. I expect them to dominate, to force Stafford to win the game all on his own, and while he can do that, Russell Wilson will also be a factor and can score as well. I just hope this game is close, as I think it has the potential to be a blow out in the Seahawk’s favor.
Mia @ Pit – Oh god, talk about a blowout. Miami is another team who lost their starting quarterback, and they’ll probably not get Tannehill back this week, it will most likely be Matt Moore in charge of the offense. The Dolphins were on a nice little win streak, snuck into the playoffs, but may get an early exit. It’s all up to Moore, who needs to keep this offense scoring, since this defense can’t stop anyone. I really don’t think the Dolphins have much of a chance at all; I can’t remember when the early rounds of the postseason were this chaotic, had so many QB changes, or were this easy to pick. The Steelers are the no-brainer choice for this game, and I don’t think it’ll even be close. Pitt is red hot, has won seven in a row, and gets a home game where they are 6-2 on the season. Ben, Brown, & Bell are synced perfectly right now, and I know I wouldn’t want to face them if I was any other NFL team, at least not in Pittsburgh. Also, they’ve been here, done that, so January is their time to shine. Miami can’t say the same, will be playing in the cold, and will almost definitely lose this game.
NYG @ GB – And here’s the first tough game to predict, the only game that should be back & forth. I didn’t predict much right at the beginning of the year, but here are a couple teams I can take credit for, although they weren’t exactly hard to imagine winning. I really thought that the Giants would have a hell of a season, and they really have; if not for Dallas and their improbable year, we’d be talking about New York as one of the best teams in the league. Eli, Odell, this defense; they can do it all. And I thought the Packers would be a Super Bowl team; they along with the Patriots were my preseason picks. Again, not a bold choice, but here they are, and for Green Bay, they couldn’t be hotter at a better time. Rodgers and the Pack won six games in a row to get here, to win the division, to host a playoff game in Lambeau. Don’t think that they’ll waste that opportunity, not even against a solid team like NYG. I hate to pick against Eli after I’ve been rooting for him all season, but the G-Men are only 4-4 on the road this season, while the Packers are 6-2 at home and are playing with much more momentum.