NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks

By Shane McDonald
Jan. 05, 2018

Tennessee @ Kansas City Sat. 4:35 ET

The Titans have not ridden any semblance of a hot streak into these playoffs. After a horrific loss to the Cardinals, a tough loss to the legend of Garoppolo, and a tight loss to the Rams, it looked as if they were going to fade away into that good night where teams tend to lose coaching staffs. However, a spirited effort against the Jags gives them new life and thanks to the latest choke job by the Ravens, they get a trip to Kansas City. Almost every statistic points to the Kansas City Chiefs here. Alex Smith leads the fifth ranked passing offense in the NFL against Dick LeBeau’s 25th ranked defense against the pass. What is lost in the Titans downward spiral over the last month is the improvement on defense. They’re starting to get pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers when they need it. The key to this game is the matchup between the Titans offensive line and the Chiefs front 7. When Ben Roethlisberger was victimizing the Chiefs earlier this year, they were using checks at the line based on the Chiefs two high safety looks. If Mariota can take advantage of this and Henry can be a little more decisive in his cuts, this game could be much closer than many expect. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans do in fact come out of Arrowhead as the first upset of the weekend, but the Chiefs play so well at home and have the weapons to victimize the Titans pass defense.

The Pick: Chiefs 28-24

Atlanta @ Los Angeles Rams Sat. 8:15 ET

The NFC playoffs are wide open and there is not a better example than this matchup that pits the 3rd seeds Rams against the defending conference champs. The 11-5 Rams are only 4-4 at home this year and the Falcons seem to be rounding into form. The Rams have the 28th ranked rush defense in the NFL and that has to benefit Devonta Freeman and this Falcon offense. Everyone knows about the matchup problems that always exist with Julio Jones and Matt Ryan on the field. Todd Gurley looks like he is on another level right now, but the Falcons do have the 9th ranked rush defense. This game will be a blast to watch, so get your popcorn ready.

The Pick: Falcons 30-27

Buffalo @ Jacksonville Sun. 1:05 ET

The one thing the Bills do well is run the ball and it looks like LeSean McCoy will be limited with an ankle injury. On paper, the Bills are not a playoff team and this game shouldn’t be close. Granted, Blake Bortles is gonna Blake Bortles from time to time, but I don’t think it will be enough.

The Pick: Jaguars 31-14

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina @ New Orleans Sun. 4:40 ET

How can you not love the matchups in these NFC playoffs? These games might actually be better than the 1 and 2 seed matchups we’ll see next week. This Saints team has all of the tools to make a Super Bowl run. They were 7-1 at home, which doesn’t bode as well after this week, but we’re not worried about that right now. The Saints have already swept the Panthers during the regular season, but this one is really the only one that matters. Cam Newton imploded for 3 picks in the first matchup and the more recent contest saw the Saints score 3 rushing touchdowns and 400 yards of offense. I’m riding the Saints.

The Pick: Saints 35-28