Regular season concluded with a final Week 17 in the NFL. I finished with 15-1 record on my Week 17 NFL picks. That’s 159-96-1 (.623) overall for the 2013 regular season, down a few percentage points compared to previous two regular seasons, 2011 (0.660) & 2012 (0.654). Here is a chart with weekly percentages on my NFL picks for 2013 regular season.
What’s left for me is to pick winners for 11 playoff games, Super Bowl included. It all starts with 4 Wild Card playoff games. In 1990 the NFL expanded its playoff system and went with 12 instead of 10 playoff teams for the first time. Since then, home teams are 61-31 (0.663) in Wild Card games and 7-1 (0.875) since 2011.
Obviously, playing at home in the postseason is an important advantage, but I’m picking 2 road teams to win this weekend. Here are my picks for all 4 Wild card playoff games.
Once again home-field proved to be big advantage in Wild Card playoff round, in first two Wild Card games played on Saturday Texans beat the Bengals and Packers beat the Vikings to advance to the Divisional playoff round. I went 2-0 with Saturday Wild Card picks, here are my picks for 2 Sunday Wild card games.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (10-6), Sunday 1:00 PM (ET)
No offence to all Colts fans out there, but 2012 Colts have to be one of the worst if not the worst 11-5 team in NFL history. Those 11 wins mostly came against below average competition. The Colts did won 3 times against teams with winning record, but all those wins were at home including a win against the Texans in the last week of the regular season. The Colts will need some kind of miracle similar to the one Denver Broncos generated in last season’s Wild Card overtime win over Pittsburgh Steelers. Remember, no one gave any chance to the Broncos last year, but they somehow managed to win the game. Anything can happen, but I think the Ravens will take advantage of home-crowd atmosphere and will be too much for the Colts. Baltimore went only 1-4 in its last 5 but 3 of those 5 teams were playoff teams. Indianapolis Colts were flying high all season on emotions but it seems the Ravens will out-emotion them this week as LB Ray Lewis returns in the lineup from injury after he announced he plans to retire at the end of this season.
Pick: Ravens 30-23, Result: Ravens 24-9
Against The Spread: Ravens (-6.5)
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) @ Washington Redskins (10-6), Sunday 4:30 PM (ET)
This are two very similar teams, offensively that is. With rookies at quarterback, Seahawks and Redskins were 2 most run-heavy teams in the NFL during regular season. Seahawks ran the ball 55% of their all offensive snaps, Redskins with 51% also went against the flow. So both teams don’t ask a lot from their quarterbacks, at least not with their pass attack. The team that can stop opponent’s running game and make them pass more will probably win this game and I like the Seahawks defense more in this matchup. Of course things can go different way with a couple of great plays from special teams, but here too I think that the Seahawks are in better position to receive the necessary spark from the special team unit. Out of all 4 Wild Card games I really can’t wait to see this battle between Seahawks and Redskins. The Redskins are at home and Seahawks had to make cross-country trip but their level of play has been great lately and I think they will come out of this battle victorious.
Pick: Seahawks 24-17, Result: Seahawks 24-14
Against The Spread: Seahawks (-3.5)
Over/Under: Under 46.5
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.
Pick: Packers 27-17, Result: Packers 24-10
Against The Spread: Packers (-7.5)
Over/Under: Under 46.5