Author: Sam Gemini
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
Pick: Houston Texans
I have gone back and forth on this pick multiple times. The Bills and the Texans are exact opposites. Houston has an awesome offense led by DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson and a terrible defense with the worst red zone percentage in the entire NFL. On the other side of the spectrum, the Bills have a below average offense with a struggling young quarterback in Josh Allen and a top three defense led by superstar cornerback Tre’Davious White. Normally, I would lean in favor of Buffalo in this game out of fear that its pass rush would beat up Houston’s bad offensive line and disrupt Watson. However, the return of J.J. Watt will be a huge boost for the Texans’ defense and will make things more difficult for Allen, who only has one win over a playoff quarterback this season. The home Texans will survive and advance to the divisional round.
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Pick: New England Patriots
There are a lot of storylines spiraling around both teams in this matchup which I still can’t believe is taking place. Ryan Tannehill and the Titans offense have generated hype for Tennessee, and doomsday predictions have the Patriots dynasty on the brink of collapse. Tennessee is precisely the type of team that can beat New England. They have one of the best running backs in the NFL in Derrick Henry, and the Patriots have had serious difficulty stopping the run. The Patriots also have a stagnant offense with a mediocre line and no weapons at receiver. They just lost a must win game at Foxborough against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins. It is not outlandish to think that the Titans are actually the better team in this matchup, and that they could march into the heart of the New England Empire and send it crumbling down. But I just can’t pick against the Patriots. I have no argument for why they will win, I just don’t have the willpower to take Tannehill over Brady in the playoffs at Foxborough. The NFL’s greatest empire is not finished . . . yet.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
Pick: New Orleans Saints
This is an incredibly easy pick, and I’ll even go so far as to say this is the lock of the entire NFL season. The Saints are the best team in the NFC, and the NFL’s silly tiebreakers have forced them to play this game while the fraudulent Packers wait in the wings at Lambeau. Alvin Kamara is electric, Michael Thomas is unstoppable, and Drew Brees, reenergized from the five games he missed early in the season, is playing some of the best football of his legendary career. Kirk Cousins is incapable of keeping his underwear clean under the bright lights of the biggest
stages, as we saw in his miserable Monday night outing at home against Green Bay. The clear coaching advantage goes to Sean Payton and the Saints, who have not lost a playoff game at the Superdome since the Jurassic period. The return of Dalvin Cook will help keep this game competitive, but New Orleans will take care of business as they march to a Super Bowl Championship.
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
This is a game between two decimated teams with weaknesses across the board. The Eagles have had cluster injuries at multiple positions this season, and it looks like they might be without tight end Zach Ertz for this game. Seattle, meanwhile, has virtually no run game, no receivers, and an awful defense. The difference here is Philadelphia is entering the weekend on a four-game winning streak, and Seattle has finished the season losing two straight at home. Russell Wilson will do everything he can to carry his squad to a road victory, but I don’t think the Seahawks have enough in the tank to defeat Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson. I’ll take Philadelphia at home in a very ugly contest.