Like some of the NFL teams did with their players, I rested last week. That awful showing you saw with my picks came from my backup. It wasn’t me. Blame the backup. He was terrible. I was getting ready for the postseason.
OK. It was me. I played, and I got abused. LOOOOOOSER.
That certainly is not the week I wanted heading into the playoffs. I went 7-9 ATS, 8-8 straight up and 2-4 with my Best Bets as part of the Pick Six Podcast. That brings my season records to 144-125-3 ATS, 168-103-1 straight up and 59-54 with my Best Bets.
I do like the Super Wild Card Weekend games this week, so I am getting back on track.
My backup did a terrible job last week when I sat out, so I am ready to go.
Bring on the playoffs.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
The Raiders got into the playoffs by beating the Chargers on Sunday night, while the Bengals are coming off a loss where they rested most of their top players. That’s an edge to the Bengals. Cincinnati has an explosive offense, but the Raiders counter with a wicked pass rush. This will be decided by how well the Bengals can protect Joe Burrow. I think they do it well enough to win the game, but it will be close. The Bengals win their first playoff game since the 1990 season.
Pick: Bengals 27, Raiders 24
Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
This is the third game featuring these two this season, with each winning on the other’s field. New England won the first meeting in a wind storm in early December, while the Bills dominated the Pats at their place in late December. The weather is expected to be cold, but not that windy. That means Josh Allen can have success throwing the football. The Patriots haven’t been the same team on the road, especially quarterback Mac Jones. Look for the Bills to take away the run and dare him to beat them. He won’t. The Bills will be moving on.
Pick: Bills 30, Patriots 17
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Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs beat the Eagles, 28-22, in Week 6 on a Thursday night. The Eagles were struggling at the time, especially running the football. But it was after that game that their run game took off when they made a commitment to it, resulting in them leading the league in rushing. That will be the key here, but the Bucs are good against the run. Tampa Bay did give up 109 rushing yards per game in the last three, well over their season average of 92.5. The Eagles didn’t sack Tom Brady in the last meeting, so they have to be better in that area. I think the combination of Brady missing two of his top passing targets in Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown the rest of the way will slow them down some. That, coupled with the Eagles running it, will keep this close.
Pick: Bucs 26, Eagles 20
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
The 49ers are the team nobody wanted to see in the playoffs. They are built to make a run. They are tough and can run the ball, which the Denver Broncos showed this season could be an issue for the Cowboys. The Dallas offense got back on track against the Eagles’ JV team last week, but this is a much tougher challenge with the 49ers defensive line coming off a dominant performance last week against the Rams. I think that will impact the Dallas passing game and Dak Prescott. I think this is the upset of the week. The 49ers will use their run game and pass rush while taking a few explosive shots to move on to the next round.
Pick: 49ers 24, Cowboys 23
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Kansas City Chiefs
It was in Week 16 when the Steelers were blown out, 36-10, by the Chiefs. They barely competed in that game, but they are back as the last wild-card team in the AFC. Don’t expect another blowout like that one. The Steelers are healthier now and have a coach in Mike Tomlin who knows how to win in the playoffs. The Chiefs have had defensive issues the past two weeks, which could be a problem. The Steelers can’t stop the run, but the Chiefs don’t run it that much, and if they do that takes away the strength of their team. That’s why I think this one will be close. The Steelers will hang around, but the Chiefs will win it.
Pick: Chiefs 28, Steelers 23
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN)
Los Angeles Rams
This is the third game between these two this season, with both winning on the other team’s field. The Cardinals won the first meeting, while the Rams won the second in December. The Cardinals were 1-4 down the stretch, but the Rams haven’t exactly been playing well, either. This will be a close game with the Rams finding a way late to win it. Look for both defenses to play well in this one as both offenses have had struggling line play lately. The Rams will win a low-scoring game.
Pick: Rams 20, Cardinals 17