All 8 teams playing this Wild Card weekend are absolutely on fire with a combined record of 25-7 over the last quarter of the season. This year’s match ups feature the Super Bowl champs (and biggest dogs at +6), the likely Comeback Player of the Year, the youngest quarterback to start a playoff game, and a 12-win #5 seed that hasn’t lost a game outside of their “home” city. More on that cursed franchise to come, but first – let’s evaluate the Houston / Indianapolis game wherein the Texans finished 6-2 on their home turf:
IND @ HOU SAT, 4:35 PM ET
These teams have already played in two shootouts this season, each team losing by three points at home, including an overtime game. Expect more of the same especially from T.Y Hilton and Eric Ebron. Each have 18 targets over the two games; Ebron with two TDs and Hilton with over 100 yards receiving in both contests.
Houston is the healthier team, but the Colts are on a 9-1 tear with a defense that has found its mojo. This is a dead even match up, so with Houston getting a point it’s best to take the Colts money line and the over at 48 points. I will split the difference on the score from the first two contests in my prediction: IND 31 – HOU 28.
SEA @ DAL SAT, 8:15 PM ET
Dallas was dominated by Seattle 24-13 in the first match up way back in week 3 when the Cowboy’s best receiver was, uh, Geoff Swaim apparently. Then along comes Amari Cooper from the Raiders to score six touchdowns leading the Cowboys to a 7-2 record in clutch games down the stretch. If there were ever a more necessary mid-season wide receiver trade in recent NFL history it has skipped my memory.
This go-around the Cowboys are at home and I expect the results to be much different. Look for the Wolf Hunter Leighton Vander Esch to make an impact on arguably the deepest RB talent in the NFL. Surprisingly, the Cowboys have had a significant home field advantage this year and I expect another close contest. DAL 28 – SEA 24.
LAC @ BAL SUN, 1:05 PM ET
This may be Philip Rivers’ last chance to win a Super Bowl and my only hope for Philip is that he ends his career with as many playoff appearances as children. For a man with as many postseason births as Drew Brees, Rivers may be the unluckiest QB in NFL history. To make matters worse, low and behold somehow, someway the Los Angeles Chargers of Carson have managed to accomplish something no other team has accomplished before: They are a Wild Card team that hasn’t lost a single game away from their home city and friendly confines of [checks notes] Dignity Health Sports Park. Yes…Dignity Health Sports Park effective Jan. 1st. Catchy.
This could only have happened to the most cursed franchise in sports. Recall a couple of years ago to a team so unlucky that economists from the WSJ had to weigh in. A team, not too long ago that had the league’s best defense AND the league’s best offense AND still managed to miss the playoffs.
The fact is the Chargers are 12-4 and they are playing some of the best defense in the NFL. They’re poised for a rematch against the youngest starting QB in NFL playoff history. Keep in mind – the Chargers have beaten every team that has beaten them at home, save for this Ravens team. My prediction is that the Chargers will maintain the status quo. Gus Bradley will not let a rookie QB beat them twice.
A late and costly turnover, and an ugly game-plan marred with penalties, turnovers, and a confused offensive line which was disrupted by a desperate Ravens pass rush in the middle of a playoff push. This week America will get to see what the Chargers and Derwin James are capable of. The All-Pro is listed as a safety, but he has made more plays at corner and linebacker than any other Charger this season. He should be used as a spy on Lamar Jackson and even the playing field. LAC 23 – BAL 16.
PHI @ CHI 4:40 PM ET
Eagles money line for me here, this is a team of destiny. Who outside the greater Chicago (or Dallas/Fort Worth area) isn’t rooting for this team right now? Big Nick’s Dick is the Super Bowl MVP with nothing to lose vs. the yippy blow-hard Trubisky who is due to be humbled.
We’ve seen this story a dozen times. Expect Tarik Cohen and Darren Sproles to out-Sproles each other and put up great fantasy numbers. Expect a close, low-scoring game that ends with the most boring of Nick Foles game-winning interviews with Michele Tafoya, and the Eagles moving on to face the Saints. PHI 20 – CHI 14.