The regular season is over. The games have been played, and the playoff field is set. This week is Wild Card weekend. There are four games on the slate for the opening week of playoffs and all four games should be closely matched and a sure winner is hard to find. The game of the week has to be the matchup between the Giants and the Packers on Sunday Night, both teams come in hot which should provide for an entertaining game. Here are my picks for the 2017 Wild Card Playoff Weekend in the NFL.
NFC Wildcard Games
Game of the Week
Giants vs. Packers
The Game of the Week takes place in Green Bay as the Giants come to town to face off against the red hot Packers. Two very different teams, the Packers have been virtually unstoppable since Aaron Rodgers declared that they would run the table and win the division, they have not lost since. The Giants on the other hand have been a dominant defensive team all year, winning eleven games, while being only one of two teams to beat the number one seed Cowboys in the regular season. The problem for this Giants team is the fact that they have struggled offensively, with virtually ZERO run game, Manning has not been able to put up the numbers he should have this season with the receiving core at his disposal. There are two keys to this game: One, the Packers will need to beat this Giants defense regularly to win, a tough task for anyone, Two, the Giants will need to get things going on offense to have a prayer in this game. It is wild card weekend, so I am guessing that something is going to happen out of the normal in this matchup. The edge has to go to the Packers playing at home. Rodgers is on a streak, and the defense is good enough to slow down the Giants offense. The Packers will win in a close battle between these two teams because they have a good enough offense to pass on these Giants, and their defense shuts teams down that have no run game.
Lions vs. Seattle
The other NFC matchup happens this week in Seattle as the Seahawks will take on the visiting Lions. This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the early playoff games since both teams are kind of stumbling into the playoffs. The Seahawks have been so up and down this year, many times looking like the team to beat in the NFL, and other times making people wonder if this is the same team of old. This week they face off against a Matthew Stafford-led team that is out for blood and has something to prove. Stafford has been nothing short of spectacular this season leading his team so-close to a division title, only to be upended by the surging Packers in the last game of the season. This game will come down to which version of these two teams shows up this week. If Stafford can replicate his mid-season form, then the Lions have an edge, but if the Seahawks can return to their playoff dominance type of shape, then it won’t even be close. Now I have learned that this season I should go with my gut, and my gut feeling is that the Lions are going to go into Seattle and shock the Seahawks on their home turf. I am willing to bet that this Seattle team is not the same, and without a sure run game and with the inconsistency of Wilson this season, they will falter in their playoff home opener. Stafford and the Lions are hungrier and will come away victorious.
AFC Wildcard Games
Raiders vs. Texans
Now this game would be a much tougher one to pick if it weren’t for the injury to Carr in week 16. But since that is the reality that we are living in now, I have to surely go with the Texans in this game. Conner Cook is a quarterback that has played one game in this NFL, not even as a starter. And he has been thrown in as the starter in the PLAYOFFS? I am willing to bet that his life will be very difficult for 60 minutes on Saturday. Everyone is calling this game close, and I am not buying it. The Texans have not had a high scoring season, but they are going to put up 25+ points on this broken Raiders team in route to an easy win at home to start off the playoffs to set up a meeting with the Patriots in Foxborough. Osweiller will be looking to prove that he is the right guy to lead this team, expect him to be sharp this week. Texans win this one easily.
Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh
Another good matchup this week will take place in Pittsburgh as the Dolphins visit Heinz field and take on the streaking Steelers. The Steelers are the scariest team in football when they are on the top of their game. They have the three B’s at their disposal on offense with Ben, Bell, and Brown ready to prove that this is their season. The Dolphins have been equally as good as of late (besides their week 17 thumping at the hands of the Patriots) and look to come in and replicate the result from earlier this season between these two teams. This game however, will be different. The Steelers are not in a slump, they are on a win streak, they are not playing in Miami, they are in Pittsburgh, which many teams will tell you is not the same story. The Steelers will win because they have the best player in the league right now LeVeon Bell. He has been ripping through defenses all season and will not be stopped this week. Expect that the Dolphins will get a heavy dose of Bell, which will in turn open up things for Brown. The Pittsburgh defense will have to step up to stop this Dolphins offensive attack. The Steeler’s D has not played exceptionally well as of late and will need a big game in order to grab a win at home. If they can get things going on both sides of the ball, watch out, this team might just win it all.