The NFL playoffs kick off this weekend, and after handing out picks during the regular season, I couldn’t let you head into the postseason without me. So I’m back for the playoff run, and I’m bringing my remarkable record of 27-24 on the season with me. You never know, maybe I was saving my best run of the season for the playoffs.
All we know at the moment is that I’ll be making picks up until the Super Bowl, whether I get them right or not.
The Chargers are the most public play of the weekend. As I type these words more than 70 percent of the bets that have been placed on this game have been placed on the Bolts. And there’s good reason why. Los Angeles is a 12-4 team with a veteran quarterback. The Ravens are 10-6 and have rookie Lamar Jackson at the helm. Rookie QBs have not fared well in their playoff games, as . Since 2010 rookie QBs have gone 2-7 in playoff games, and both of those wins came in matchups against fellow rookie QBs. Against veteran QBs, they’re 0-5.
Well, I’m going against that trend here. First of all, the fact the Chargers have to fly across the entire country to play a game at 1 p.m. ET and 10 a.m. PT could be a problem for them, just like it’s been a problem for so many West Coast teams in the past. Furthermore, while rookie QBs may struggle in playoff games, Lamar Jackson is a little different. Jackson isn’t going to be asked to throw the ball 30 times in this game. Baltimore’s offense is something out of the early 20th century, and it matches up well with this Chargers defense. The Chargers are stronger defending the pass than they are the run, and it was only a few weeks ago that the Ravens came to L.A. to beat the Chargers 22-10. I believe the Ravens will get them again. Ravens 21, Chargers 17.
Watch the AFC Wild Card Game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore Ravens live right here on CBSSports.com.
You’re going to have to excuse me if I have a hard time putting my money on the line with a team coached by Jason Garrett in a playoff game. Especially as the favorite. I know Dallas has been a much better team since trading for Amari Cooper, and that its defense is the real deal, but again: it’s still a team coached by “The Clapper” himself, Jason Garrett. The key to this game will be whether or not the Dallas defense can stop the Seahawks run game. Dallas ranks fifth in the NFL in yards per carry allowed at 3.8 while Seattle’s offense is also fifth at 4.8 yards per carry.
Like the Chargers-Ravens game, this is also a rematch. Dallas made the trip northwest to Seattle in Week 3 and got beat 24-13. The Cowboys turned the ball over three times and held Seattle to only 2.9 yards per carry. As I said earlier, Dallas has gotten a lot better since than, but you know what? So have the Seahawks. They come into this game having won six of seven. Four of their six losses have come against the Bears, Chargers and Rams (twice), three of the best teams in the NFL. Dallas shocked the world when it beat New Orleans, but seven of its 10 wins have come against teams with losing records. The only good teams it beat all season were the Saints and Eagles, and Philly only went 9-7. I think Seattle’s the better team in this matchup, so I’ll take the points. Seahawks 24, Cowboys 17.
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Eagles (+6.5) at Bears
I saw a headline this week calling the Eagles the hottest team in the NFL. Philadelphia has won three straight and five of its last six. It heads to Chicago this weekend where it will meet a Bears team that has won four straight and nine of its last 10, with that sole loss coming without its starting QB. So maybe we should hold off on calling the Eagles the hottest team in the NFL.
Still, even if they might not be the hottest, they’re quite dangerous. These are the defending champions we’re talking about here, and they’re facing a Bears team with a great defense, but also an offense led by a QB making his first career playoff start. Mitch Trubisky has been good for the Bears this season, but he’s also had a tendency to turn the ball over at inopportune times. His defense usually bails him out when he does, but between the young QB, a shaky kicker in Cody Parkey, and a defense that may be great but has a tendency to get too conservative late in games, allowing opponents to close the gap, it’s hard to pass up on nearly a touchdown here with Philly. Bears 20, Eagles 17.