Wildcard Weekend NFL Picks
The Wildcard Weekend is up there with the best of the season as far as I'm concerned.
Twelve teams going blow for blow to try advance to the divisional round. Whilst Kansas City and Philadelphia await and watch potential opponents beat the heck out of each other for 60 minutes.
We kick things off in a likely rainy Bay Area with streaking San Fran and the upstart unpredictable Seahawks on Sunday (Aussie time). Then we get a look at the playoff versions of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Herbert as the Jags host the Bolts.
Monday is the third helping of Miami v the Bills followed by a New York Giants-Minnesota rematch. AFC North foes, Baltimore and Cincinnati clash to end Monday and then Tuesday, a stand alone mega match between the Dallas Cowboys and Tom Brady's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Oh - and if you have not heard, Tommy B is 8-and-zip against America's team...
Here's how we see the Wildcard Weekend playing out:
NFL WILDCARD WEEKEND PREVIEW AND PICKS
SEAHAWKS @ NINERS
Everyone expects San Fran to roll here.
They’re 8-0 in their past 8 whilst Seattle are 3-5 in theirs. But, playoff football is often random football and there’s predicted to be an incredible amount of rain in Northern California.
The Seahawks are 30th in the NFL for run defence. Kyle Shanahan’s run schemes and his star running back Christian McCaffrey mean life could be real hard when it comes to run stopping for the ‘Hawks.
Geno Smith’s season has been incredible - quite the stunner! But he and his team’s form has dipped at the wrong time of the season.
Brock Purdy is a 3rd string quarterback, we must remember that but what he’s done between the lines is more relevant than where he was drafted. Add in weapons like Georgie Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and CMC and you have the ingredients for a long run at the Lombardi.
The Seahawks have been plucky all year but San Fran are absolutely rolling and could easily truck over their NFC West rivals.
SF 28, SEA 20
CHARGERS @ JAGUARS
Trevor Lawrence v Justin Herbert! This is what this clash is all about. Sure, they face the opposing defence, not each other but the game will be all about which big, young, strong, athletic gunner handles their first taste of the playoffs the best. Jacksonville enters winning 6/7 and not only via Lawrence’s arm. The defence has held its opponents to 7.3 points per game in its past three. LA has the sixth ranked pass defence but the 27th ranked run D meaning sophomore stud Travis ETIENNE might come into play. And for the Chargers O, it’s their No. 5 aerial attack v the Jags No. 27 pass D. Major advantage Herbert, provided Mike Williams is fit. He had to make the playoffs this time round… and he has. I like Herby to go on the road as the 10-win team and upend the Jags. LAC 28, JAX 25 DOLPHINS @ BILLS
Unfortunately for Miami fans, starting QB Tua Tagovailoa remains out with concussion issues. So, the 'Fins will turn to rookie seventh-rounder Skylar Thompson which spells trouble against a Bills squad who were awesome before the Damar Hamlin incident and will be riding the wave of emotion in the wake. These two put on a showdown with 80 points scored during the regular season, but without Tua it’s hard to mount any real case for the Dolphins on the road in western New York. BUF 27, MIA 20
GIANTS @ VIKINGS
The first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with 12 wins BUT a losing points differential… a positive or negative… most say negative. I was a fan of these Vikings coming into the season and I’m not giving up yet. The smart money says their good luck must end and so much of what has happened has been random pot luck but 12 wins in the NFL is serious stuff and Minnesota have weapons. Jefferson, Cook, Thielen, Hockenson and head coach Kevin O’Connell. But, of course, this team will go as Kirk Cousins goes. In week sixteen, Big Blue should’ve won this match-up and we’ve seen signs from Daniel Jones, despite me having given up on him long ago. I’m sticking fat with the Vikings but this is the game many will see as the upset. MIN 24, NYG 21
RAVENS @ BENGALS
As a Bengals man, this game makes me nervous. In last season’s playoffs, Cincinnati entered every game with nothing to lose. They went on the road as underdogs and knocked off Tennessee and Kansas City to make a Super Bowl. This season is different as many see these Bengals as the most even roster from top to bottom. Having said that I doubt the burden of expectations worries Joe Burrow.
Lamar Jackson is in then he’s out and his No. 8 jersey being used or remaining clean is key to any chance Baltimore may - or may not - have.
This will be low-scoring and at times maybe even a defensive slugfest but even in those types of games an offence is asked to make a play and Burrow, Chase, Higgins, Mixon, Perine and Boyd have more than enough firepower to do so.
CIN 24, BAL 14
COWBOYS @ BUCCANEERS
Dak Prescott led the league in turnovers despite missing a month of the season. Not good at all. He’s had 11 turnovers in his past seven games.
When the game script favours Dallas, this is a great team. When they fall behind things get asked of Dak that he’s not capable of doing.
Tom Brady will be asked to drop back 50 times. It’s generally a recipe for disaster and may be here with Micah Parsons pinning his ears back but we know Brady is clever enough to get the ball out quick and to avoid the rush.
Dak is more prone to making rushed plays and poor decisions. Dallas has a much more complimentary and talented squad with more speed and pop. But Tampa got warm in week 17 and are dangerous at home. DAL 28, TB 22 LAST WEEK: 12-4 THIS SEASON: 170-94-1