Playoff picks – Wild Card Weekend, Saturday games

Regular season is over and it’s time for the playoffs, 4 teams earned first-round bye ( New England, Baltimore in the AFC and Green Bay, San Francisco in the NFC). The other 8 teams making the playoff will try to advance to Divisional Playoff round through Wild Card playoff games. First, here are my picks for Saturday Wild Card games.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-7) @ Houston Texans (10-6), Saturday 4:30 PM (ET)

     

Stats That Matter

Scoring Offense: Texans (10th) over Bengals (18th)
Scoring Defense: Texans (4th) over Bengals (9th)
Scoreability Index: Bengals (9th) over Texans (17th)
Bendability Index: Texans (12th) over Bengals (17th)
Passer Rating Diff.: Texans (3rd) over Bengals (18th)
Rusher Rating Diff.: Texans (6th) over Bengals (23rd)

Prediction 

After failing to reach the playoffs in each of its first 9 seasons, Houston Texans will face the Cincinnati Bengals in their first playoff game ever. Teams already met in Week 14 of 2011 regular season, Texans edged the Bengals in Cincinnati 20-19 with a last seconds TD pass from rookie QB T.J.Yates. Bengals too have a rookie player at quarterback. QB Andy Dalton played above any expectations in regular season, but the question is how he’ll perform under pressure in a playoff game. I expect a nervous start from both teams on offense with their rookie quarterbacks leading the way and with their defense being the better unit. In the last 6 games in regular season both, Texans and Bengals, scored exactly 18 points per game. So it wouldn’t be a surprise if this game turns out to be another low-scoring game. All in all, I think Texans hold the edge over the Bengals simply because they have the better defense and they’ll play in front of the home crowd who will finally get a taste of a playoff game.

Moneyline: Texans 23-16
Against The Spread: Texans (-3.5)
Over/Under: Over 38.5




Detroit Lions (10-6) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3), Saturday 8:00 PM (ET)

     

Stats That Matter

Scoring Offense: Saints (2nd) over Lions (4th)
Scoring Defense: Saints (13th) over Lions (23rd)
Scoreability Index: Lions (5th) over Saints (6th)
Bendability Index: Saints (7th) over Lions (20th)
Passer Rating Diff.: Saints (2nd) over Lions (7th)
Rusher Rating Diff.: Saints (8th) over Lions (20th)

Prediction 

The Saints will take on the Lions in Superdome again after Week 13 regular season game in which Saints cruised to a 31-17 win.  In that game Lions won the battle in useless total offense stat category, with 466 total yards over Saints’ 438. But they also had a ton of penalty yards. The Saints are a lot more disciplined team and it seems that they are peaking at the right time. They won the last  8 games of the regular season and 4 of those came against playoff teams. Lions on the other hand managed to win only 1 game against playoff teams all season. With their poor ground attack Lions have slim chances of cooling down Brees and the rest of the Saints’ offense. Despite all the hype surrounding Saints’ passing game, their running game has been outstanding too. Saints’ offensive line is one of the best in the league and they will handle Lions’ D-line. Saints get the win and earn a trip to San Francisco for a Divisional Playoff clash.

Moneyline: Saints 34-24
Against The Spread: Lions (+11.5)
Over/Under: Under 59.5

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