The NFL playoffs are here, which means the intensity rises on the field and also when it comes to picking the games.
There are only four games this week and four next week, then two and then one.
That means the margin for error is slim.
It also means focusing in on the games is a little easier. I usually do well in the postseason when it comes to making picks, so let’s hope that trend stays true.
I expect a few upsets this week, and maybe a wild ride in the playoffs with a long shot even making the Super Bowl.
Wild Card Weekend will be fun. Let’s hope the picks are good to go with it.
Indianapolis at Houston (-2)
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN, ABC)
The Colts come in here as the hottest team in the league. Andrew Luck is the key to their offense, and he’s having an outstanding season. The offensive line in front of him is a big reason why. They are among the best in the NFL and their battle with the Texans front will be big in this one.
The Texans, on the other hand, have a woeful offensive line. Deshaun Watson, a mobile quarterback, has been sacked 62 times this season. That’s how bad that line has been. The Colts don’t have an elite pass rusher, but they have a lot of guys who can apply pressure on Watson, especially with the bad line trying to protect him.
I think the Colts will force Watson into a few turnovers that will turn into short fields for Luck, who will capitalize on those. The Colts defense is 10th in scoring this season, so it’s improved.
The young Colts haven’t been in this type of game, while many of the Texans have been, so that’s an edge for Houston, as is home-field advantage. But I like the Colts here with Luck to keep rolling and pull off the road upset.
Pick: Colts 27, Texans 26
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Seattle at Dallas (-1)
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)
This should be a physical game between two teams that want to run it and play good defense. The Seahawks led the league in rushing, which helped Russell Wilson make a lot of big plays off play-action throws.
The Cowboy finished fifth in rush defense and yards per rush, which means something has to give there. It will also put more pressure on Wilson to win with his arm.
The Cowboys finished 10th in rushing on offense and Seattle had some issues stopping the run, finishing 30th in yards per rush. That could mean a big day for Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott will be much better if Elliott does have a big day.
Look for the Cowboys defense to come up big in this one, much like they did in a home victory against the Saints earlier this year. Cowboys take it.
Pick: Cowboys 23, Seahawks 20
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore (-2.5)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS, stream the game here)
The Ravens ran for 159 yards in that game, averaging 4.5 per rush. I don’t think that will happen again. That was the first time the Chargers saw the Ravens and their scheme with Jackson, which can be tough the first time you see it. I think with a grasp of it, the Chargers will handle it better.
The Baltimore defense had an impressive game in the first meeting, limiting Philip Rivers to 181 yards passing and picking him off twice. Rivers will be better here and offensive line, which was dominated in the first meeting, will be stouter.
I think the Chargers will win a low-scoring game, with a late sack-fumble play by Joey Bosa to ice it.
Pick: Chargers 19, Ravens 16
Philadelphia at Chicago (-6)
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET (NBC)
Foles and the passing game will be challenged here by a Chicago defense that was first in the league in passing yards per play. It helps that pass rusher Khalil Mack makes things tough for any quarterback. But the Eagles offensive line has played better down the stretch, which will be key here.
The Chicago offense has had moments where it’s been impressive, but it’s limited in terms of being able to line up and run the football. That could be a trouble spot for Mitchell Trubisky against an Eagles defense that is playing better lately.
Despite that, I think the Bears will find a way to generate enough offense to win a close game and advance to the Divisional Round. The Eagles will make it interesting, though.
Pick: Bears 21, Eagles 20