Regular season concluded with a final Week 17 in the NFL. With a 13-3 record last week I went 167-88-1 for the season, which is a bit of a drop-off compared to last season when I correctly picked 169 winners (66%).
Now it’s time for the playoffs and once again I’ll try to correctly pick as many games as possible, that would be 11, Super Bowl included.
Postseason is a completely different season and to be able to play a playoff game at home is an important advantage. For example, last season home teams won 8 out of 10 playoff games. Of course that doesn’t mean it will happen again this season, but it is something worth considering when picking postseason NFL games. First on the menu are 4 Wild Card playoff games, here are my picks for 2 Saturday Wild card games.
Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) @ Houston Texans (12-4), Saturday 4:30 PM (ET)
With a late season meltdown Houston Texans lost the No.1 seed and now have to host Wild Card playoff game and for second consecutive season it will be against Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals seem to be in better shape finishing with a 4-1 record in their last 5 games, but in those 5 games the Bengals played only once against playoff team, and it was against the Ravens last week in a meaningless game. The Texans on other hand went 2-3 in their last 5, but it was against much tougher competition. Their last 5 opponents finished the regular season with a combined 50-30 record with 4 of those 5 teams making the playoffs. I think it will be difficult for both Bengals and Texans to score points in this game as both teams play much better on defense. Texans QB Matt Schaub has yet to experience a playoff game, but he’ll have home crowd to support him. Bengals QB Andy Dalton had a solid second year as a pro but didn’t play good in his last few road games and he probably doesn’t want to remember his last playoff performance against the Texans. Difficult to decide but I’m leaning towards the Texans to beat the Bengals who will yet again fail to win their first road playoff game ever.
Pick: Texans 23-20, Result: Texans 19-13
Against The Spread:
Over/Under: Under 43.5
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) @ Green Bay Packers (11-5), Saturday 8:00 PM (ET)
It happened before that teams who played in the last week of regular season had to play against each other in a Wild Card playoff game the following week. The Vikings – Packers game will be the 13th such rematch since 1990, when NFL introduced 12-team playoff format. And based on previous 12 such games the Vikings have little chances as home teams went 10-2 in those games. RB Adrian Peterson will probably have another great game, but I don’t think the Vikings as a team can duplicate their Week 17 performance. It’s QB Christian Ponder who will have to perform as good as he did the last week in Minneapolis and chances are he won’t this time around in a hostile environment. If the Packers can find just a little bit of a running game to support Rodgers’ pass attack than the Pack should have no problem earning a trip to San Francisco for a Divisional Playoff clash.