It's playoff time. 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 Wild Card round prediction contest thread.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
You know the last time the Chiefs won a playoff game? January 16, 1994 in Houston! That does not mean anything with regard to this game, but it's an amusing stat. I think the Chiefs win this won pretty handily. They're playing well, but more importantly, they are getting Justin Houston back while the Texans have lost left tackle Duane Brown. I think Brian Hoyer could be in for a long day.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Steelers are my pick to make it to the Super Bowl from the AFC. They're a popular pick, which obviously means they'll lose in their playoff opener. It just seems fitting. That being said, I'm sticking with them to win this game. Their defense is kind of a train wreck, but I don't think the Bengals offense will be able to hang with the Steelers offense in a shootout.
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings
I picked the Seahawks straight-up, but I think this ends up a very close game. I will be taking the Vikings against the spread, and I think this ends up a one-possession victory for one side. The weather report suggests this could be one of the six or seven coldest games in NFL playoff history. Cold weather can often lead to turnovers, and I think that will be one of the equalizers in this one. Seattle rolled Minnesota in Week 13, but I think the rematch is much closer.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington
Washington is on a roll lately, while Green Bay has been stumbling along. I suppose that means the Packers will end up winning this, but I think underdog Washington wins this one outright. Washington's recent run has been against bad teams, but the Packers are not exactly playing great football lately. I don't know if Washington can go on the road and win after this, but I think they win a shootout against the packers.