It’s finally time for playoff football, which means it’s also time for playoff predictions.
Twenty teams have been eliminated, while 12 are left to compete for a Lombardi Trophy. Eight of them will be in action this weekend, with a wild Week 17 setting up some juicy wild-card matchups.
Will the Eagles triumph as home underdogs yet again? Can the Titans find a way to upset the Patriots? Do the Vikings even stand a chance in New Orleans? We’ll find out soon enough.
A week after yours truly wrapped the regular season with a 152-103-1 record picking games straight-up, we’ve got more predictions and picks against the spread — for each wild-card showdown on tap — as you prepare for the playoffs. Enjoy!
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Saturday, 4:35 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN)
Point spread: Texans -2.5
The Texans have two of the NFL’s most explosive playmakers in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. They’ll be rested up. They also won’t have to leave home. But there’s a reason they’re barely favorites in Houston. The Bills defense is ravenous, and its secondary alone should keep Bill O’Brien frustrated for much of Saturday night. Josh Allen, meanwhile, should benefit from the holes in the Texans’ own pass “D,” hitting Cole Beasley and John Brown for enough big plays to keep Buffalo out in front. Ride with Sean McDermott.
Prediction: Bills 27, Texans 21
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Patriots -4.5
Everyone’s going to milk the “Patriots might actually be dying” narrative this week, and rightfully so, considering New England will be playing in the Wild Card round for the first time since 2009. The Titans also have the grit to put up a serious fight, especially if Derrick Henry gets going on the ground. But I’m not taking the bait that easily. Tom Brady might be on the decline, but he’s still about to start a home playoff game after an embarrassing Week 17 performance. Bill Belichick will lean on a top-10 run defense and out-scheme Mike Vrabel here, and the dynasty will remain intact for another week.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Titans 23
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Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, 1:05 p.m. ET (FOX, stream it on FuboTV for free)
Point spread: Saints -7.5
This is a serious prove-it opportunity for Minnesota, who could easily advance to the NFC title game as long as it can escape Louisiana with a win. That’s a big “if,” though, and the oddsmakers aren’t crazy to forecast this as a two-score game. A ton of Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins play-action should keep the Vikings in play, but the Saints might be the most explosive team in the NFC, and their quick-strike attack should offset the Danielle Hunter-headlined pass rush. Alvin Kamara. Michael Thomas. Drew Brees. It’s all too much to bet against, especially at home against Mike Zimmer, who’s suspect in big games.
Prediction: Saints 29, Vikings 24
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 4:40 p.m. ET (NBC, stream it on FuboTV for free)
Point spread: Seahawks -1.5
The Seahawks have had the Eagles’ number, beating Philadelphia in seven of the teams’ last eight matchups. Russell Wilson is also a perfect 4-0 against the Birds. But things have changed since their last meeting. Carson Wentz is playing unshackled alongside a bunch of hungry and unsung heroes, and Jim Schwartz’s defense has been increasingly clutch, particularly at home. Wilson will keep Seattle in it until the end, no doubt, but a plodding Marshawn Lynch won’t be able to save a banged-up Seahawks team from overcoming Doug Pederson’s playoff magic.
Prediction: Eagles 28, Seahawks 23
Last week: 9-7
Season (straight up): 152-103-1
Season (against the spread): 118-132-6