Welcome back for another round of the 2016 NFL playoffs! Well, not for the 49ers, but you get the point. Wild card weekend kicks off the 2016 NFL playoffs, and it's an intriguing round of games. When the lines opened, two home teams were favored and two home teams were underdogs. With the playoffs starting in a little over 24 hours, the lines have swung to where all four home teams are underdogs.
I'll have picks against the spread Saturday morning, but in the meantime, I thought I'd take a look at picks and predictions for each of the games. I've included our prediction widgets for each game, which are a general one for all the non-playoff blogs. And of course, I've posted the Divisional round prediction contest thread.
Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
The Chiefs are rolling, having won 11 straight heading into this game. They blew out the Houston Texans last week, and now face a banged up Patriots team. New England is expected to welcome back Julian Edelman, but Rob Gronkowski has missed two of the team's three practices this week. I am taking the Chiefs against the spread, but think the Patriots can win. That being said, the only surprise outcome would be the Chiefs winning in a blowout.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
This is a fascinating matchup. The Broncos will be starting Peyton Manning for the first time since Week 10. The Steelers will send out Ben Roethlisberger shot up on pain-killers to get through his separated shoulder. They will be without DeAngelo Williams due to a foot injury, and Antonio Brown remains in the concussion protocol, and seems unlikely to play. I think somehow the Steelers will keep this thing relatively interesting, but I see Denver winning.
Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks won a wild one over the Minnesota Vikings last week, and now face the 15-1 Panthers. I don't think they'll look anything like the team that got lucky in beating the Vikings, but I don't think it will be enough to beat the Panthers. Carolina will be getting Jonathan Stewart and Ted Ginn back, which are two critical additions. Who would have thought we'd say that about Ted Ginn, wide receiver?
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals
I thought Green Bay would get knocked off in Washington last week, but the offense showed serious life for the first time in a while. This is a fascinating game, with Arizona favored by a touchdown. I think Aaron Rodgers & Co. will be able to keep this one really competitive. I think Arizona has the offense to advance, but it will be a good one.