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PFT’s wild-card picks


The 256-game regular-season picks contest resulted in a five-game win over MDS. I finished with a 12-4 mark; MDS ended with 11-5.

For the year, I was 170-86 (66.4%). MDS is 164-92 (64.4%).

The record now re-set to 0-0, with an 11-game postseason chase. For the wild-card round, we differ on two of the picks. For our picks on all of this weekend’s game, just keep reading.

Cardinals at Panthers

MDS’s take: A Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals team vs. a sub-.500 Panthers team. This is one of the worst playoff games in NFL history. But someone is going to advance to the divisional round, and I think it will be the Panthers, who are playing their best football at the right time. The Carolina defense has improved over the course of the season, and that defense is going to make life miserable for Lindley, who just isn’t good enough to be leading an NFL offense into the postseason. The Cardinals had a promising season, but it will come to an end on Saturday.

MDS’s pick: Panthers 24, Cardinals 13.

Florio’s take: Four straight wins to end the season have given the Panthers a boost heading into the postseason. And even though the Panthers are 7-8-1 on the year, many think they’ll easily handle the quarterback-challenged Cardinals. That’s exactly what coach Bruce Arians wants. His team thrives when doubted, and they’re being doubted again. Look for the Panthers to continue their postseason struggles at home -- and for the Cardinals to punch their ticket for a third contest against a team that has outscored them this year with a combined score of 54-9.

Florio’s pick: Cardinals 20, Panthers 17.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: Few players mean as much to their teams as Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who this season became the first player in NFL history to top 2,200 yards from scrimmage without fumbling. If Bell can’t go, or if he’s at less than full speed, that would be devastating for the Steelers. I think the Steelers’ offense will be slowed down without Bell, and the Ravens’ offense will be able to move the ball against a bad Steelers defense. Baltimore takes this one in a road upset.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Steelers 20.

Florio’s take: The Ravens have pulled eight playoff upsets since 2000. But none of those upsets have come against the Steelers. It’s hard to imagine it happening now; even if Le’Veon Bell can’t go, the Ravens suddenly can’t contain receiver Antonio Brown, who has 18 catches for 234 yards in two games against Baltimore this year.

Florio’s pick: Steelers 23, Ravens 14.

Bengals at Colts

MDS’s take: The Colts have not played particularly well recently, but I just can’t overlook what happened when these teams met in Week Seven and the Colts won 27-0. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton had great days in that game, and even Trent Richardson made some plays. I like the Colts to do it again and win convincingly.

MDS’s pick: Colts 24, Bengals 10.

Florio’s take: The Colts shut out the Bengals during the regular season. Which means that the Bengals scored as many points as they have playoff wins since the week before they destroyed Bo Jackson’s hip. While a shutout isn’t likely on Sunday, the Bengals will have a tough time beating a Colts team that remains good enough to get to the divisional round, but not much farther.

Florio’s pick: Colts 24, Bengals 13.

Lions at Cowboys

MDS’s take: With Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh winning his appeal and Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton out with a knee injury, I’m tempted to pick the Lions to win an upset. But what’s holding me back is that I’m just not convinced the Lions can put enough points on the board, even if Melton’s absence means Matthew Stafford will have more time to pass. Stafford completed only 20 of 41 passes last week against the Packers, and the Cowboys will have a big advantage at quarterback with Tony Romo running the offense. That will be the difference.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 28, Lions 20.

Florio’s take: The Lions and the Cowboys have each changed the narratives about their underachieving teams this year. The Dallas storyline will revert quickly, if they blow a chance to return to Lambeau in the postseason for the first time since 1967. Tony Romo and company will keep that from happening. If they don’t, everyone will say that Tony Romo and company are no different than they were in past years.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 31, Lions 27.