Welcome to my weekly installment of NFL picks. This will be my first year doing picks against the spread and my second year doing picks in general.
Feel free to keep track of your predictions and see if you can beat me.
Survivor Picks: 9-1 (over)
Regular Season Tallies:
Straight-up Record: 154-100-1 (10-6 last week)
Against the Spread Record: 122-125-8 (9-7 last week)
Confidence Points: 560.0 (+37.2 last week)
ATS Confidence Points: 33.2 (+8.1 last week)
Straight-up Record: 1-3 (1-3 last week)
Against the Spread Record: 1-2-1 (1-2-1 last week)
Confidence Points: -9.7 (-9.7 last week)
ATS Confidence Points: -5.8 (-5.8 last week)
Straight-up Record: 155-103-1 (1-3 last week)
Against the Spread Record: 123-127-9 (1-2-1 last week)
Confidence Points: 550.3 (-9.7 last week)
ATS Confidence Points: 27.4 (-5.8 last week)
Welcome to the playoffs! With fewer games each week, I will be afforded slightly more room to analyze what I think will happen in each game. Enjoy!
#6 Minnesota Vikings at #1 San Francisco 49ers (MIN +7)
49ers 26, Vikings 20
Spread confidence: 3.9
The Vikings surprised me last week with their dramatic win over the Saints, but I anticipate that their magic will run out on Saturday. The Vikings have too many good players to be blown out, but the 49ers should be energized with the expected return of Kwon Alexander.
The Vikings will likely be gashed on the ground through the work of Raheem Mostert. George Kittle should have a good day, opening up the offense for the likes of Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel. Jimmy Garoppolo will be pressured early and often by the duo of Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, but the 49ers will apply even more pressure to the Vikings through Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and DeForest Buckner.
Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should have solid days, but Kirk Cousins needs time to get the ball out to his receivers.
#6 Tennessee Titans at #1 Baltimore Ravens (TEN +10)
Ravens 31, Titans 27
Spread confidence: 6.7
The Ravens have not lost since September, and I do not expect them to lose this weekend. As well as Tennessee as played since installing Ryan Tannehill into their offense, most of their damage has come through Derrick Henry. Henry was held in check in Tennessee’s most recent loss (with Henry in the lineup, Week 15 versus Houston). Baltimore has a better defense than Houston, and I expect Henry to have a good but not great day Saturday night. Flipping the coin, the Titans are tasked with defending the NFL’s most electric scoring offense. Stopping Baltimore’s variety of weapons will be even more difficult without the services of Jayon Brown. While many eyes will be on Lamar Jackson, expect Mark Ingram and Mark Andrews to move the chains when necessary and bleed the clock out before Henry has a chance to get on the field.
#4 Houston Texans at #2 Kansas City Chiefs (KC -9.5)
Chiefs 31, Texans 17
Spread confidence: 4.5
The only blowout that will likely happen, the Chiefs should roll the Texans. Houston has been atrocious in their previous trips to the divisional round, and I expect Sunday to be no different.
The Chiefs have improved ten-fold since the prior matchup in October. The Chiefs are 100 percent healthy, and the defense has stepped up its game in recent weeks. The Texans are fighting with borrowed time after the Bills choked away a 16-point lead last week, and the Chiefs will likely send the Texans to yet another long off-season. Even with the likes of Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and J.J. Watt, the Texans are working from a coaching disadvantage as Andy Reid is a significantly better coach than Bill O’Brien. Congrats, Chiefs.
#5 Seattle Seahawks at #2 Green Bay Packers (SEA +4.5)
Seahawks 23, Packers 20
Spread confidence: 8.3
My upset of the week, I think the Seahawks will be the better coached and better-quarterbacked team on Sunday night. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are as battle-tested as any pair left in the playoffs, and I will happily take their experience and the points in Green Bay. The Seahawks have lost their last eight in Green Bay including a pair of playoff games, but the Seahawks have the individual talent to beat the Packers.
Even with the better record, the Packers have few statement victories, and they could fold in a big moment. One matchup to keep an eye on is Jadeveon Clowney versus the interior of the Green Bay offensive line.
If Carroll decides to employ Clowney in a role that Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Nick Bosa have filled in two of Green Bay’s three losses, it will be a long day for Aaron Rodgers. Clowney is a certifiable game-wrecker, but he may be better served to apply pressure up the middle to attack the weaker portion of the Green Bay offensive line just as Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter did against the Saints last week.