Here is an expanded explanation for my wild card picks as explained from a previous post.
Times are MT
RAIDERS AT TEXANS, SATURDAY 2:20PM ABC/ESPN
The Texans enter the playoffs with the #1-ranked defense but the question in Houston is this: can money pit Brock Oswiller lead this team in a deep playoff run.
Savage came in to replace Oswiller in Week 15 and followed it up by earning his first NFL win as a starter in the Texans’ Week 16 12-10 over the Bengals that clinched the team’s fourth AFC South Title.
As noted by ESPN, Savage is the Texans’ 9th starting quarterback since 2013 which ties them with the Browns. Both Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer have started for both teams.
Tom Savage: Texans’ 9th starting QB since 2013, tied with Browns for most in that time. Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer have started for both.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 19, 2016
Broncos general manager John Elway might be laughing that the Texans hauled a mint to lure Oswiller to Houston, but the Texans are the ones laughing last because they’re in the playoffs and the Broncos aren’t.
Houston appears to be following a blueprint that took Denver to a championship last season except that the Broncos 1) could run the football, and 2) despite being at the end of his career, had Peyton Manning who despite being retired for nearly a year would be a much better option than what the Texans have right now under center.
Meanwhile Oakland appeared to be on the verge of one of the best worst-to-first stories in recent years. Since their last playoff appearance in 2002, the Raiders never finished better than third in the AFC West and never finished with a higher than .500 record. Oakland was poised to make a trip to Houston in February until Derrick Carr broke his fibula in the team’s Week 16 win over the Colts. The Raiders followed it up with a loss to the Broncos in Denver and with the Chiefs victory over the Chargers, the team dropped down to the 5-seed and is now making an earlier than expected visit to Houston.
Both teams quarterback situations are not good nor ideal for a deep playoff run. If they were playing other teams both would be one-and-done this weekend. Unfortunately, one of these teams have to advance (and will likely get slaughtered by either the Patriots or should Miami win their game, the Chiefs). I have to give a (slight) advantage to the Texans because of their run game, defense, and their proven ability to win with whoever is under center.
TEXANS 17, RAIDERS 13
LIONS AT SEAHAWKS, SATURDAY 6PM NBC
The second game of Wild Card Saturday is the Seahawks hosting the Lions.
Detroit should send a portion of their playoff bonus to Washington. In Week 17, Washington essentially needed to win their final game to get in unless the Packers-Lions game ended in a tie. Well, Washington failed to beat a Giants team that had nothing to play for and at kickoff both the Lions and Packers clinched playoff spots. The only issue left was who was going to win the NFC North and host a playoff game and who was going to have to slog it out on the road as the NFC 6-seed.
The Packers achieved that goal 6 years ago, as former cornerback Charles Woodson declared they were going to see Obama.
The Lions are not going to do that.
Well… first, Obama is term limited and will leave office at noon eastern on 20 January 2017… so whoever is the Super Bowl champion will likely visit this guy…
A guy who owned a professional football team and was one of the factors that caused the league to fold.
The second is that the Lions are going to continue their playoff win drought for another season.
Detroit appeared to be on the path to getting a much-needed bye week but the Lions lost their final three games – all against playoff games.
If the game is close late, don’t count the Lions out. They lead the league in 4th quarter comebacks.
Sadly, for the Lions, this game is in Seattle. The Seahawks have only lost once since their stadium opened in 2002 and the weather forecast is not to the Lions’ favor.
SEAHAWKS 31, LIONS 10
DOLPHINS AT STEELERS, SUNDAY 11AM CBS
Last week the Steelers rested their three Bs: Ben, Bell, and Brown.
And they still beat the Browns.
As I observed, the Steelers are a Super Bowl dark horse pick given they have their offensive skill players healthy. I think they could go into Kansas City and win followed by giving the Patriots are run for their money in Foxboro.
It was looking like Miami was on the verge of another disappointing season with their 1-4 start but a win over Cleveland followed by a 30-15 win in Miami over the Steelers in October started them winning 9 of their 11 games and making their first playoff appearance in eight years.
Running back Jay Ajayi had 204 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground in the Dolphins’ victory over the Steelers and led the league in rushing from Week 6 onward. He is facing a Steelers defense that averaged 100 rushing yards against and allowed 15 rushing touchdowns.
The Dolphins are making their first playoff appearance since 2008 as the AFC East Champion. Their time in the playoffs were short lived as they were bounced by 6-seed Baltimore.
History might be repeating in Pittsburgh this weekend. I cannot see the Dolphins advancing and if this game turns into track meet, the advantage goes to Pittsburgh given their offense.
STEELERS 39, DOLPHINS 20
GIANTS AT PACKERS, FOX 2:30PM SUNDAY
This is probably the best game of the weekend.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers certainly made his case for another NFL MVP award with his 4-touchdown performance in Detroit last weekend and another season of resurrecting the Packers from a slow start. After a 4-6 record, Rodgers reassured the Packers faithful by telling fans that the team could run the table. And they did by winning their final 6 games and clinching the NFC North.
I really want to pick the Packers in this game given their momentum and it’s a home game for them.
However, this is the third playoff matchup between the Packers and Giants in 9 years. And in the two previous instances the Giants have come away victorious.
And each time the Giants ended up winning the Super Bowl over the Patriots.
In part, it has to do with the Giants defense (which is pretty good), the play of their quarterback in the post-season (Eli Manning is 8-3 along with 2 Super Bowl wins), and a talented wide receiver. In 2007, it Plaxico Burress. The 2011 run was aided by Victor Cruz. The 2016 playoff edition of the Giants has Odell Beckham Jr.
This is the fourth time since 1990 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks have played in the Wild Card round. I expect this one to be the better of the previous matchups.
GIANTS 23, PACKERS 20