We finally made it to the playoffs. It has been a wild year but now we get to sit back, enjoy wild card weekend, and even get to see an extra game. More football is always a good thing. The Packers received the only bye in the NFC after ending the season on a six game win streak. Their last loss came in an overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week 11. Green Bay got the ball to start but a fumble on the second play set the Colts up for a winning field goal. Aaron Rodgers led the lead in completion percentage at 70.7% and only threw five interceptions, which was the least by a full season starter. That level of efficiency is going to be hard to beat as long as the defense can hold up. They have struggled at times stopping the run but I don’t know if there is any team that can really control the game on the ground. They will have to run through some good quarterbacks though with the likes of Brees, Wilson, and Brady playing this weekend. If all three can advance, strap in for a showdown of the league’s best for a chance at another Super Bowl.
No. 7 Chicago Bears (8-8) at No. 2 New Orleans Saints (12-4)
Gametime: Sunday 4:40 pm
Spread: Saints -8.5
Total: O/U 48
What to Know: I don’t think the Saints love having the 2 seed here having to go up against the Bears to open up the playoffs. These two teams faced off earlier on the season and New Orleans was able to escape with a 26-23 victory in overtime. Nick Foles was the quarterback for the Bears in that one and shortly after that game, they made the switch back to Mitch Trubisky. The Bears’ offense has improved in the six games since making the switch, averaging over 30 points per game. The key to the game is going to be how Trubisky and David Montgomery can attack the elite run defense of the Saints. They are holding teams to under 4 yards per carry and 94 yards per game on the season.
On the other side you have Drew Brees and his aging shoulder leading the Saints offense. I don’t have faith in his ability to throw the deep ball anymore but this isn’t quite the elite Bears defense we’ve seen the last couple years. I think they have enough weapons to get things done. Taysom Hill will most likely see some time as well to help get this offense going.
Gambling Tip: The over is 6-2 in the Saint’s home games this season.
Prediction: Bears 27 Saints 31
No. 6 Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at No. 3 Seattle Seahawks (12-4)
Gametime: Saturday 4:40 pm
Spread: Seahawks -4.5
Total: O/U 46.5
What to Know: These teams just faced off in weak 16 with the Seahawks taking away a victory 20-9. The rams limped into the playoffs, losing two of their last three and the only victory coming 18-9 against the Cardinals. They also gave the Jets their first victory of the season in a weird 23-20 game. The coaching decisions and quarterback’s decisions at the end of the game were the key to that loss but the loss to the Seahawks was just a beatdown. The Rams were able to move the ball but were only able to scrape up three field goals. Goff was playing with a broken thumb in the second half so that played a factor in the game but he still did not play good enough. He may not play in this one which may or may not improve the Rams chances. John Wolford didn’t do a terrible job taking over the Rams offense last week. One thing to look out for no matter who is playing quarterback is what the offensive line does. They are allowing the second most sacks in the league.
The only thing that Los Angeles can look to as a bright spot in this game is their ability to slow down Russell Wilson. He has completed 61% of his passes in those two game with two interceptions and 11 sacks. An offense that averaged over 28 points/game was only able to scrape up 16 and 20 points in the two games.
Gambling Tip: Rams are 5-1 against the spread against teams with a winning record this year.
Prediction: Rams 20 Seahawks 28
No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccanneers (11-5) at No. 4 Washington Football Team (7-9)
Gametime: Saturday 8:15 pm
Spread: Buccanneers -7.5
Total: O/U 46.5
What to Know: Tom Brady has been handed a gift to open up his first NFC playoff run. He may get knocked down a few times with a very impressive front seven led by Chase Young and Montez Sweat but outside of that, this game should be a runaway. Alex Smith is only averaging five air yards per throw which is worst in the league by a lot. Washington will probably have to hold the Bucs to under 20 points to have a chance in this one and I don’t see that happening.
Gambling Tip: The under is 6-0 in Washington’s last six home games.
Prediction: Buccanneers 24 Football Team 10