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PFT’s wild card picks

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Mike Florio and Michael David Smith are leaning toward the underdogs in the Wild Card.

After securing a convincing victory in the regular-season picks contest for the first time in awhile, it’s time to reset the records to 0-0 and have at it, again.

MDS and I will pick every postseason game (except the Pro Bowl), and it could be a wild wild-card weekend. We disagree on three of the four games.

For the picks and our explanations, keep reading. For our picks against the spread, keep watching.

Colts at Texans

MDS’s take: The Texans’ outstanding run defense is going to make the Colts a one-dimensional offense. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t mind that because they’re confident in Andrew Luck and the offensive line’s ability to protect him. But the Texans’ defense has pass rushers like J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus who can tee off on Luck. I believe the Houston defense can keep Indianapolis in check, and Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins can make enough big plays to give the Texans the win.

MDS’s pick: Texans 24, Colts 16.

Florio’s take: It’s round three in the AFC South, with the Texans winning an overtime thriller in Indy and the Colts returning the favor in Houston. The Colts may return the favor again, thanks to an offensive line that can hold the Houston defensive line long enough to give Andrew Luck time to find open receivers. It won’t be easy; Deshaun Watson has a history of stepping up in big spots, and the Texans are the division champions. But the Colts, after starting 1-5, have won nine of 10. Make that 10 of 11. Possibly en route to 11 of 12.

Florio’s pick: Colts 23, Texans 20.


Seahawks at Cowboys

MDS’s take: Although the Cowboys’ offense got better after the Amari Cooper trade, I think Dallas has to be a little worried about its ability to move the ball against the Seattle defense. I also think the Seahawks’ run-first offense is going to be able to protect an early lead. I like Seattle to pull off the road upset.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 20, Cowboys 17.

Florio’s take: The Cowboys play better at home, and so do the Seahawks. Advantage home team, especially since the No. 5 seed is 4-4 away from the raucous, earthquake-inducing sounds of the Twelves. Dallas dismantled the Saints in Texas, and the Cowboys formula should work against a team with a very similar approach. The wild card could be Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard, who was fired by the Seahawks after 2017 — and who knows them well.

Florio’s pick: Cowboys 20, Seahawks 16.


Chargers at Ravens

MDS’s take: This is the most intriguing of the weekend’s four games to me because I’m curious to see how Lamar Jackson fares in his first playoff game, and against a Chargers defense that has already faced him once and may be more prepared for the unique skill set he brings to the table. Although I’d pick the Chargers on a neutral field, I think Jackson will control lead a ball-control offense and the Ravens’ defense will benefit from the home crowd as Baltimore wins a low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 14, Chargers 13.

Florio’s take: The Ravens won round one only two weeks ago in L.A., in a game that could have gone either way. The rematch happens in Baltimore, with the Chargers getting an extra-early kickoff time and their eighth game of the year outside of L.A. But they’re undefeated away from the StubHub Center (5-3) and the Coliseum (0-1), and they’ve had the benefit of facing the Lamar Jackson offense. In a game that could go either way, I’m sticking with the home team. Simple reasoning for that: The Ravens were my preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Now that they made it to the playoffs, I can’t pick against them.

Florio’s pick: Ravens 24, Chargers 23.


Eagles at Bears

MDS’s take: If Nick Foles can go to Chicago and beat the best defense in the NFL, it will raise questions about whether the Eagles should really give the starting job back to Carson Wentz next season. But I think Foles will fall short, as the Bears’ defense is too good, and Matt Nagy will have some new wrinkles on offense.

MDS’s pick: Bears 20, Eagles 17.

Florio’s take: The Eagles struggled to find something that would truly galvanize them this season, and they finally did. Another December injury to Carson Wentz sparked another string of stellar performances by quarterback Nick Foles, leading the defending Super Bowl champions back to the playoffs after we’d all left them for dead. Next up, the Bears. And, once again, the Eagles are being doubted, overlooked. But Foles is battle tested in single elimination games, and Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky isn’t. Remember the Sunday night game against the Rams? Trubisky was shaky, and the Bears scored only 15 points. That won’t be enough against a team that has nothing to lose, because for the second straight postseason most people assume they will. This time around, if I’m going to be wrong it’s not going to happen because I doubted Foles and the Eagle, again.

Florio’s pick: Eagles 17, Bears 15.