Welcome back to another edition of The Picks Six-Wildcard Weekend-the first postseason edition!! It’s SUPER WildCard Weekend, which means we’ve got back to back triple headers this weekend. 6 games, 2 days, a PLETHORA of storylines… What does that recipe equal? Chaos. And chaos… is a ladder.
The playoff picture was murky up until the last minute, when Doug Pederson and the Eagles left all people with a logical brain (or a bet on the Eagles to win… like me) DISGUSTED with their Sunday Night Antics. I don’t want to go on about it, but it was absolutely shameful and I feel really sorry for the New York Giants coaches and players who gave it everything to win their game, believing they had a chance to make the playoffs. They did not. The Eagles coaches had zero intention of ever winning that game. It’s shameful. Jalen Hurts deserves better. Anyway… If we get half of THAT controversy this weekend, we’re in for a treat.
Game Picks (Regular Season Record: 95-45)
Colts @ Bills
Josh Allen and his offense are steamrolling their way into the Playoffs. A comfortable cut above the rest of the AFC East, they dispatched the FitzMagic-less Dolphins last weekend – resting their starters for the second half – and are sauntering into their first home playoff game in a loooooong time with confidence sky high. The Stefon Diggs trade is one of the best pieces of business done in this league in a while, and what the Bills lack in an explosive running back they make up for in their mobile maverick quarterback. On the other side of the ball… one of my least favourite teams in the league this year. I’m sorry, but I’m not really sorry. I’ve never had much love for Phil Rivers – trash talking aside – and their intensely boring mix of stout defense and 3.5 yards per carry run game is one of my least favourite mixtures in the NFL. The Colts have been inconsistent with their ability to score points offensively, and that’s not a good thing against a Bills defense that started slow but has picked up steam in the last month. As much as I believe in this Bills team, this pick is also personal preference influenced. #BillsMafia: enjoy your home game. You’ll have another one next weekend.
Rams @ Seahawks
If the opportunity to see Jalen Ramsey vs DK Metcalf again wasn’t enough, the subscript to this game is just so tasty. Will Aaron Donald regret saying “that’s exactly what we wanted” when he was told the Rams were travelling to Seattle after their victory over Arizona last weekend? Will Pete Carroll let Russ continue to cook!? Will Jared Goff play? Could John Wolford pull off a miracle two weeks in a row? It’s all set to be WILD. And yet, for me, the most important player on the field on Saturday I haven’t even mentioned yet. I still cannot fathom why Seattle refuses to FEED Chris Carson the ball. He’s so explosive. Seattle’s offensive line can create holes for him and he has the ability to make the most of them. IF – and it’s a big if considering the Rams’ defensive line – Seattle can establish the run and control the game at their own pace, I think the Seahawks have everything they need to dispatch LA back to their home and move on to the Divisional weekend. With the question marks over Jared Goff’s thumb remaining, I can’t in good conscience pick the Rams this weekend. There are more ways Seattle can win. Even if they don’t do as I’ve advised (lean on Chris Carson), they can still win this game if MVP-level Russell Wilson shows up, which is always possible. The Rams HAVE to have their defense play to the best of their ability, and hope Kupp and Woods can make enough plays to get them some points. I’m choosing to ride with the path with the most options.
Buccaneers @ Washington
I’m going to keep this one short. I’ve never been a Tom Brady fan. I’m still not. I hate the New England Patriots… and yet… NEVER in my life would I be stupid enough to say “Tom Brady I’m coming,” a whole week before I had to face TB12 in the playoffs. If you think Tom didn’t see Chase Young’s sentiment… and hasn’t been religiously watching game film… think again. I have been loud and proud all season about how this Washington team are frauds and I believe they will be exposed as such this weekend, as they would and SHOULD have been last weekend, had Jalen Hurts been allowed to finish the job. Tom Brady is going to annihilate Washington. *Insert joke about a “Brady happy to see a leaky defense in Washington for the second time this week” here.* Don’t think I’ve forgotten who you campaigned for, Tom. Abhorrent. Enjoy this weekend before Aaron Rodgers shuts you down next Sunday.
Ravens @ Titans
This game is the biggest revenge game I’ve seen for a while. The last two times these two teams have faced off, the Titans have run the ball down Baltimore’s throat and sent them packing empty handed. Mike Vrabel and John Harbaugh almost came to blows pre-game before the regular season matchup that went back and forth before Derrick Henry walked it off in OT. The biggest criticism of Lamar Jackson is his record in the playoffs. I think that’s unfair; his incredible regular season record contains some losses as well. It’s just bad luck. Lamar will shine in the playoffs eventually, I’m just not convinced it’ll be this weekend… Yeah, the Titans defense is questionable at best… but if you have Derrick Henry running like he is, and Ryan Tannehill throwing to AJ Brown like he is, you have to feel good about your ability to put up points. I think this game is the biggest toss up of the weekend. This could go in so many directions, but I think it’ll be tight and probably come down to a late game drive one way or the other. The Ravens offense has woken up of late, with Hollywood Brown finding the endzone with consistency and JK Dobbins looking like one of the steals of last year’s draft. All that said… I think I’m sticking with Tennessee. This game is must-see however, whichever way it ends.
Bears @ Saints
I can’t trust Mitch Trubisky to beat this Saints defense. I just can’t. David Montgomery has found a groove and the smartest thing the Bears could do on Sunday afternoon would be to lean heavily on their run game and try and get it going early. Brees is surely still some way short of 100%, but with their running backs on track to be back this week, the Bears linebackers are going to have to try and deal with “Mr 6” Alvin Kamara. The Bears defense could keep this close, but I think the Saints have enough weapons to pull away late. I can’t see the Bears offense having enough firepower to win this game. It’s gotta be NOLA.
Browns @ Steelers
The Cleveland Browns HAVE NOT won a single game in Pittsburgh in 17 years. S-E-V-E-N-T-E-E-N YEARS. Big Ben has NEVER lost at home to the Browns. Kevin Stefanski – likely Coach of the Year – is unable to coach due to COVID protocols. Alex Van Pelt is the play caller, for the first time in his NFL career. The Browns are the perennial losers and underdogs of the AFC North. The Steelers are the Championship pedigree empire. EVERYTHING about this game says “Thanks for coming, Cleveland, but the road ends here.” AND YET – that’s exactly why I think the Browns will win this game. Sometimes “it’s just meant to be” is the truth. Baker Mayfield has led the Browns to the promised land of the playoffs. I think the boost that gives this franchise, and the motivation of having their coaches out, and you’re playing your biggest rivals, and your rivals have been insulting you all week (JuJu said “the Browns are the Browns,” to suggest there was nothing different about their current crop of talent)… I am all in on the Browns bandwagon. Chubb, Hunt, Landry, Higgins, Hooper… TO THE MOON. Shake and Baker. Dawg Pound – you’re getting a win.
Using the above picks, this is my parlay for the weekend:
Browns to win.
Depending on your bookmaker, £10 on this parlay pays around £620.
We’ll reunite here next week as we welcome the de facto 1 and 1A in the MVP race into the dance. Enter stage right: Mahomes and Rodgers. And here… we… go… Anyway, I hope you’re all staying safe and sane in the midst of this insane start to 2021. Fingers cross we can relax and enjoy a good time on this SUPER WILDCARD weekend. As ever, I’m @CallumJDSquires on Twitter and Instagram. Come say hey. Have a good one everyone.
Callum Squires is an ardent Dolphins fan, and a good friend of NFL in London.