Williamsport, Pa. – I personally love this slate of games. In fact, give me six wildcards every year moving forward.
Almost every team looks like a possible Super Bowl contender. Sorry Washington. Nearly every team looks like a possible Wildcard exit. You’re welcome Washington.
All joking aside these matchups are outstanding. We will all have a lot to cheer for throughout the weekend. I am just here to offer a light guiding hand to enjoy the games. Here. We. Go.
No. 7 Indianapolis Colts at No. 2 Buffalo Bills (Bills -6, 51)
Root: I’m going with the favorite here. It’s easy to get sucked into the Philip Rivers argument. It could be his last chance. He has been an outstanding professional. It would mean so much to the game. Josh Allen will have more chances. There are the reasons. I will still take the Bills. Allen is unlike any quarterback in the league. Beyond that, it really is about a team and a city that desperately needs a playoff win.
Pick: I gave the pick with the heart. The pick for the win matches up perfectly. Bills. Buffalo scored 202 points over the final five games of the season. They were 5-0 in those games. That included wins against the Steelers and division foe New England.
Bet: I want to make this a clean sweep and give you Buffalo, but six is a scary number for me in the playoffs. Indianapolis has a good defense against the run. The Colts have given up 100 rushing yards just five times all year. The problem is Buffalo does not really look to run the ball like that. Allen picks up yards with his legs and his arm does the rest. Six scares me, but so does the Colts defense stopping the Bills passing attack. Give me the Bills to Cover.
Final: Buffalo 34, Colts 17
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks (-4, 42.5)
Root: If John Wolford plays, I will have a hard time rooting against the Rams. I love underdog stories. I named my pet Cat Warner after the great Kurt Warner. Plus, it will make the offseason that much more interesting if Wolford leads the Rams into the postseason and picks up a win. Remember, Jared Goff has thrown 13 pick this year. He has regressed. Throwing Wolford into the offseason mix would be a lot of fun.
Pick: There are few things that make me happier than Division matchups in the postseason. A game between two teams familiar with each other always delivers. I like the Rams in this one.
Bet: The Rams have scored 32 points in two games against Seattle. The Seahawks have scored 36 in two games. There is not much separation when it comes to the two teams. They know each other well. I really do not see the Seahawks winning by more than a field goal. For the Rams, Wolford is the wildcard. Seattle will be unfamiliar, which means Wolford could spark the offense and have a big day. I’ll take the Rams for the sweep.
Final: Rams 21, Seahawks 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team (+8, 45)
Root: Washington Football Team is the feel-good story. It is so 2020 to say that, but it is true. They changed the logo and suddenly can be a rooting favorite. Tom Brady has had enough playoff success.
Pick: Forget all the feel-good stuff. I really had a tough time with this one. The entire picking world thinks the Bucs will roll, but this will be closer than most people think. I like the Football Team in this one.
Bet: Take the points. Playoff games are different than regular season games. There are not very many blowouts. Eight points is a lot. It has a shininess to it. It is hard to look away. Take the Football Team and the points.
Final: The Football Team 27, Buccaneers 24
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (+3, 55)
Root: Flip a coin. I know, Pittsburgh fans would be screaming, but the Ravens are a fun team to root for. Also, Tennessee is one of the best offenses to watch in the entire league. Derek Henry is a monster. Ryan Tannehill is a stud. A.J. Brown is a giant receiver with hands. Love it. Coin flip says I’ll pull for the Titans. Henry won me a fantasy championship.
Pick: Fun stuff is over. Give me Baltimore. Tennessee can score points with any team in the league. They also can let teams score points at the same clip. If you cannot rush the passer, especially against Baltimore, you cannot win playoff games.
Bet: Baltimore. Justin Tucker is the best kicker in the league. It will matter in the end. His extra points and field goals will help give Baltimore all the points it needs to cover three.
Final: Ravens 38, Titans 28
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-10, 47)
Root: No team has tasted more bitter defeats in the playoffs than the Saints over the last three years. It has been painful. I said it last week I’m all for the best games. Unfortunately, Bears vs. anyone is not the matchup I would like to see. Drew Brees getting one more chance to make a run has the appeal. Saints.
Pick: Saints. The Bears have made an interesting run, but let’s not fool ourselves. The Saints are a better team. They have a much better chance of making an impact. They are the pick to end the Bears season.
Bet: Ten is a lot of points in the playoffs. Here is my argument for the cover. The Bears played the Texans, Vikings, and Jaguars before taking on the Packers to closeout the season. They dominated those games then got dominated against the Packers. The Bears are not ready for this type of challenge. Saints cover.
Final: Saints 42, Bears 24
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6, 47.5)
Root: I gave you all the sappy stuff last week about why the Browns deserved to be in the playoffs. Throw it all out the window. That’s right Pennsylvanians, it’s time to root for the Steelers. They are a mainstay when it comes to the postseason. Root for them to advance and continue to cause problems for opposing teams.
Pick: This time it's for real. The Steelers defense is outstanding at causing problems for the opposition. The first matchup went to the Steelers 38-7. Last week’s matchup that featured backups went to the Browns. I’m thinking having guys like T.J. Watt playing will make a difference. Steelers.
Bet: Six points. It’s a tough one. Division matchups always tend to be close in the playoffs. The Browns will be without their head coach which could cause problems. Still, six points. It’s going to be close, but the Steelers know how to finish. I like the Steelers, but they will not cover the six.
Final: Steelers 24, Browns 21