Wild Card Weekend Thoughts and Predictions

Wild-Card Weekend Thoughts and Predictions:

If you are a football fan, not much is better than the next three weekends in the NFL.  “The Tournament” gets underway Saturday with the wild-card weekend.  Think of it this way, 15-days after it starts, we will know who will play in Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5th.  This will be, as always, an amazing three weekends, beginning Saturday in Houston.

5-Oakland Raiders 12-4 (6-2 away) @ 4-Houston Texans 9-7 (7-1 home), Saturday 3:35 CT  ESPN

Connor Cook (Michigan State) will be the NFL’s first rookie to make his 1st career start in a playoff game.  It’s really too bad that the Raiders won’t have MVP candidate Derek Carr (broken leg) in the playoffs.  This is not an elite QB matchup—Brock Osweiler vs Connor Cook.  One other note before the pick—the Texans should NOT be hosting this game.  It’s silly and wrong that the 9-7 Texans get this game at home by virtue of being better than Tennessee, Indianapolis and Jacksonville.  The reward for winning your 4-team division should be a spot in the playoffs—not an automatic home game.

Upset?                 Raiders—17-13


6—Detroit Lions 9-7 (3-5 away)  @  3-Seattle Seahawks 10-5-1 (7-1 home),  Saturday 7:15 CT  NBC

The only thing that went right in the final 3-weekends of the season for the Detroit Lions, was the New York Giants winning on the road at Washington in week-17.  That Giants win, earned the Lions a number 6-seed and a playoff trip to Seattle.  The Lions last playoff win was 25-years ago—simply put, it will be at least 26-years between playoff wins for Detroit football fans.  NO WAY the Lions win at Seattle—right?

Absolutely?       Seahawks—30-13

6—Miami Dolphins 10-6 (4-4 away)  @  3-Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5 (6-2 home), Sunday 12:05 CT  CBS

The Dolphins, even with Ryan Tannehill, would be facing an uphill battle in Pittsburgh.  Miami has one chance to win, that with is Jay Ajayi having an epic day, and the Dolphins defense getting takeaways from Ben Roethlisberger.  Both happened in a 30-15 Dolphins win over the Steelers in October.  Simply put, it will not happen again.  Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell will be better than the Matt Moore and Jay Ajayi.

Simple?                               Steelers—37-20

5-New York Giants 11-5 (4-4 away)  @  4-Green Bay Packers 10-6 (6-2 home), Sunday 3:40 CT  FOX

It’s difficult for Packers fans to forget the Giants playoff trips to Lambeau in 2008 and 2012.  There are just a handful of players on either sideline that were part of the 2012 Giants win—and far less were there for the below zero Giants win in the NFC Championship game in 08.  There are a lot of keys to this one…but the biggest might just be “confidence-momentum” that the Packers have built while riding a 6-game winning streak.  Running the table to earn a playoff home game (although it shouldn’t be in Green Bay—see Raiders at Texans) has put the Packers back into the discussion for SB LI.  If GB wins, it will be because the defense holds up against a very talented Giants WR corps…and because the Packers offensive line is able to hold back the Giants pass rush.  Two Key players on each side of the ball  in a Packers win along with the obvious—Aaron Rodgers:  Davante Adams and Jared Cook on offense,  Julius Peppers and HaHa Clinton-Dix on defense.  If those 4, plus Rodgers have good numbers—the Packers win.

Nervous?            Packers—20-17

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