Splash’s Wild Card Predictions

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)

Playoff Tallies:

Straight-up Record: 0-0
Against the Spread Record: 0-0
Confidence Points: 0.0
ATS Confidence Points: 0.0

Total 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)

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!

Saturday Games:

No. 5 Buffalo Bills at No. 4 Houston Texans (BUF +3)

Bills 21, Texans 20

Confidence: 0.5

Spread confidence: 0.7

It is tough to distinguish between these two teams. Both teams do a certain thing very well as the Bills have one of the best defenses in the NFL and the Texans have one of the best quarterback-wide receiver connections in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. While Hopkins will go into the teeth of the Buffalo defense, likely drawing Tre’Davious White on a play-to-play basis, the real matchup is the Buffalo offense versus the Houston defense. Both units have been much maligned throughout the season as the Bills’ offense has been ineffective at times and downright awful at other times.

By the same token, the Texans have been incredibly inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball. Notable examples include getting drubbed by Drew Lock and being massacred by the Ravens. While the Texans have had a handful of solid defensive performances, they are generally been a mess. J.J. Watt will return, but coming off of an injury, it is unclear how much of an impact the former Defensive Player of the Year will have.

I expect the Bills to win a very close game. If the Texans were to win, I still think the Bills would cover barely.

No. 6 Tennessee Titans at No. 3 New England Patriots (TEN +4.5)

Titans 23, Patriots 21

Confidence: 0.9

Spread confidence: 1.7

In a similar vein to the first game, the Titans and Patriots are close. While the Patriots have all the lore and Tom Brady, the Titans are breathing fire. Primarily through Derrick Henry, the Titans have been one of the best teams in football over the last two months. Henry has been a man possessed, rushing for more than 100 yards in five of his last six games, including 211 yards against the hapless Texans defense last week. Henry stole both the rushing title and a tie of the rushing touchdown title in Week 17, and he has a feast waiting for him is disguised as the Patriots defense.

The Patriots have been questionably terrible on offense for most of the season. Despite Julian Edelman having one of his best regular seasons, he has been marred by injury in recent weeks. Tom Brady has been an old Tom Brady. The rushing offense has been putrid. Sony Michel has been a gigantic bust this season, and the Patriots have gained practically no traction in the rushing game. Defensively, the Patriots have been good, but not great in recent weeks. After one of the greatest starts to the season in the history of football, the Patriots have fallen flat on their faces, relatively speaking. The greatest example of this phenomenon is Stephon Gilmore. After 14.5 weeks of elite cornerback play, Gilmore has been embarrassed by John Brown and DeVante Parker over the last two weeks.

While I am certainly not counting the Patriots out of the game against Tennessee, I think the Titans will have a slight upper hand because they have a well-defined identity through Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill has played out of his mind, and he should receive a handful of MVP votes for his heroics this season.

Sunday Games:

No. 6 Minnesota Vikings at No. 3 New Orleans Saints (NO -7.5)

Saints 30, Vikings 20

Confidence: 10

Spread confidence: 7.3

The only game of the week that I am very confident in, the Saints will massacre the Vikings. The Saints, despite not having a vastly superior roster, are at home and will be looking for blood. The Vikings have struggled in playoffs past and Kirk Cousins has a poor reputation in big games. The Saints will roll, and the Saints will roll into Green Bay and likely beat the Packers.

While I think the Packers are frauds, the Saints have a likely trip to the NFC title game ahead of them. They will use the strengths of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to supplement the offense while the defense should get going with the likes of Cameron Jordan and Marshon Latimore.

The Vikings are by no means untalented, but playoff miscues in the past are probably obstructing my vision for this team. The Vikings are very reliant on Dalvin Cook, and Cook has been knocked up with injuries in recent weeks. If I was assured a 100 percent healthy version of Cook, I would still take the Saints.

No. 5 Seattle Seahawks at No. 4 Philadelphia Eagles (PHI +1.5)

Eagles 24, Seahawks 20

Confidence: 0.1

Spread confidence: 0.2

While the Eagles were hot trash for the first 12 games of the season, they have been one of the better teams in football over the last four weeks, reeling off four consecutive wins to steal the NFC East crown from the Cowboys. They now welcome Seattle to town for the second time on the season. In the first matchup, the Seahawks prevailed, but I think the second matchup could tell a different story.

While Carson Wentz has the equivalent of nothing as wide receivers, he has been incredibly resourceful with his cast of running backs and tight ends. The defense has played significantly better after being obliterated by Ryan Fitzpatrick and his beard. For Seattle, they have struggled in recent weeks, being decimated by Kenyan Drake and the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks managed to win 11 games, but they were awfully lucky in one-score games.

It remains to be seen if Seattle has enough playoff moxie to win games in hostile environments, but Russell Wilson could straight up win the game for the Seahawks. Defensively, the Seahawks have plenty of talent with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney, Bobby Wagner, and Quandre Diggs.

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