NFL Picks: Wildcard Round
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texas (-2 ½)
Both teams enter play with a 10-6 regular season record. Buffalo has dropped their last two, while the Texans got hammered by the Titans, 35-14 last week. The Bills struggle offensively, averaging less than 20 points per game, but make up for it with a stingy defense, allowing just 16.2 per game. Houston is much more powerful offensive with the likes of Deshaun Watson, Carlos Hyde, and Anthony Hopkins, but have given up 24.1 per game. This game could come down to turnovers, and the Bills are +4 turnover differential versus 0 for the Texans. Look for a road upset with the Bills defensive creating a key turnover late and winning outright.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-5)
For the first time since 2009 the New England Patriots are playing in the Wild Card round. They finished the season at 12-4, losing to the Dolphins last week. Tennessee is on a high after their win against the Texans and finished 9-7. The Titans are averaging 25.1 per game while allowing 20.7 per contest and are +6 in the turnover differential. While Tom Brady is still effective at age 42, guiding the Patriots to 26.3 points per game, the defense has carried the team. They have given up just 14.1 per game and lead the league with a +21 turnover differential. Tennessee will play motivated ball but New England will take over in the second half and win and cover.
Minnesota Vikings versus New Orleans Saints (-7 ½)
The Saints are rolling into the post season with a 13-3 record and winners of their last three. On the flip side, the 10-6 Vikings are limping in having lost their last two. At 28.6 points per game, the Saints are third in the NFL in scoring, which makes up for a relatively average 21.3 points per game allowed. The Vikings are among the better defensive teams, allowing just under 19 per contest. Both teams have been opportunistic defensive, at +15 and +11, respectively, in turnover margin. The Vikings have a fight in them, but Drew Brees is extremely difficult to beat at home in the playoffs. The Saints should win and cover.
Seattle Seahawks (-1 ½) versus Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are perhaps the most unlikely team to make the playoffs after a 5-7 start. However, they amazingly won the last four with an offensive that consisted of mainly practice squad members at the skill positions. They are riding at high and have averaged 24.1 points and given up 22.1 points per game. The Seahawks are 11-5, but have lost their last two. Their defense isn’t what it used to be, giving up 25 per game, but Russell Wilson always seems to find a way to get it done. Seattle won the first meeting between the teams, 17-9. The Eagles are -3 in turnover differential and the key will be whether or not Carson Wentz can take care of the football. In his first ever playoff game, look for him to thrive and the Eagles to pull off an upset in a low scoring game.