If you made a New Year’s resolution and you’ve kept it so far, then your year is already off to a better start than mine.
My New Year’s resolution was to not eat fast food in 2019, and that lasted for exactly 47 minutes. I got hungry after celebrating the new year and the only thing in my fridge was a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and there was no way I wasn’t going to eat it, so that’s now out the window.
Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, the Steelers should probably make one that involves not fighting each other.
The Bengals should also make a resolution not to hire Hue Jackson as head coach. Of course, you didn’t come here to hear about me talk about a bunch of sad non-playoff teams, you came here for wild-card picks, so let’s get to the picks.
Actually, before we get to the picks, I should mention that I’m adding one thing this week, which will be me trying to tell you why I may or may not know what I’m talking about in a certain game. Basically, I’ve tabulated all my picks from the season and now you’ll know how I did picking each team. For instance, I went 15-1 picking Seahawks games this year, but you already knew that since I mention it every week. However, any Cowboys fans who are here for the first time because they’re hate-reading due to the “Seahawks upset Cowboys” part of the headline might not have known that, which is why I’m repeating myself.
Also, if you need a new podcast for the new you in 2019, I highly suggest that you click here and subscribe to the Pick Six Podcast. I team up with Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough every week for an NFL recap show that you can download each and every Monday morning during the season. In our Week 17 recap, we spent an exorbitant amount of time talking about which quarterback the Eagles should dump if Nick Foles somehow leads Philadelphia to another Super Bowl.
Alright, now that we have that stuff out of the way, let’s get to the picks. Don’t forget, you can check out the wild-card picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. Oh, and just because I know you were wondering, my other New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to get more picks right, so let’s hope this one doesn’t blow up in my face like that fast food thing.
Start a playoff picks pool today to compete against friends and coworkers or show off your football knowledge by playing against experts.
NFL Wild-Card Picks
Saturday, January 5
No. 6 Indianapolis (10-6) at No. 3 Houston (11-5)
4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
“Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”
I have no idea who’s in charge of organizing the halftime show for this game, but if the Texans don’t get Drake to perform “Started from the bottom,” then they’ve already lost in my book. I don’t think that song was written for the Colts or Texans, but it might have been, because this is basically the most improbable playoff game of all-time because both teams started the season at rock bottom (and now they’re here). On one hand, you have the Texans, who were 0-3 after three weeks and looked so bad that half the fan base wanted to see Bill O’Brien fired.
That’s solid to-do list, but the Texans didn’t listen to any of it. Instead, they kept O’Brien, went on a nine-game winning streak and ended up making the playoffs with an 11-5 record, becoming just the sixth-team in NFL history to make the postseason after starting 0-3. Of course, that’s not even that impressive when you compare it to what the Colts did this season. After getting off to a 1-5 start, everyone in Indy was ready to run Frank Reich out of town.
Although Colts owner Jim Irsay is on Twitter, he somehow managed to ignore the tweets calling for his coach to be fired, which is impressive, because ignoring people on Twitter isn’t easy. Also, firing someone because some people on Twitter told you to probably isn’t the best way to run a business. Anyway, the Colts held on to Reich and all he did was help Indy become just the third team in NFL history to make the postseason after a 1-5 start.
As for the actual game, the biggest thing I need to know is if the Texans are even going to try and stop T.Y. Hilton this week, because they don’t ever really seem to try and stop him when he’s in town. Hilton has four games in his career where he’s gone over 175 yards and three of those have come in Houston, including back in Week 14, when he had nine catches for 199 yards in a 24-21 Colts win. Hilton also had four catches for 115 yards the first time these two teams met in Week 4. Not guarding the other team’s best receiver is definitely a strategy that hasn’t been working out for the Texans.
Even if Hilton goes off though, I don’t expect this to turn into a Colts blowout. As a matter of fact, I fully expect this game to come down to the right foot of the guy below who kind of looks like Santa Claus’ brother.
Adam Vinatieri might be older than everyone on the Texans’ roster combined.
The pick: Colts 27-24 over Texans
Record picking Colts games this season: 12-4
Record picking Texans games this season: 11-5
Stream Seattle at Dallas and Sunday’s games on fuboTV, try it for free, and stream the CBS games on CBS All Access.
No. 5 Seattle (10-6) at No. 4 Dallas (10-6)
8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)
The end of the regular season is usually an interesting time for me because that’s generally when everyone on the internet comes out of the woodwork and throws my preseason predictions in my face. For instance, Andrew here was kind enough to remind me that I blew it with my Bears prediction this year.
Ouch. That’s pretty bad. In my defense, I made the prediction before the Khalil Mack trade. If I had known Mack was going to be on the team, I would’ve predicted 6-10.
Of course, the only reason I’m bringing up my predictions is because I think I’m the only person in the country who predicted that both the Cowboys and the Seahawks would finish exactly 10-6.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that if my preseason predictions are any indication, then there’s a 100 percent chance that I’m going to pick this game correctly.
Here’s what I like about the Seahawks: They never lose in the opening round of the playoffs. Since Pete Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks have gone 6-0 in their opening round playoff game and it doesn’t matter if that game was played in the Wild-Card Round (4-0) or the Divisional Round (2-0). You know how Andy Reid is basically unbeatable after a bye week? That’s Carroll, except in opening round playoff games.
The thing about the playoffs is that it’s the first time all season where you don’t know your opponent until a week before you play them. In the regular season, it’s easy to prepare for everyone, because you know exactly who you’re playing every week. In the playoffs, the best coaches generally survive (SEE: Belichick, Bill) because they adapt the quickest to this situation and Carroll is one of the NFL’s best coaches. On the other hand, you have Jason Garrett, who I’m 99 percent sure will make at least one completely befuddling decision late in the game on Saturday, which will probably cost the Cowboys the game.
The pick: Seahawks 23-20 over Cowboys
Record picking Seahawks games this season: 15-1
Record picking Cowboys games this season: 8-8
Sunday, January 6
No. 5 L.A. Chargers (12-4) at Baltimore (10-6)
1:05 p.m. ET (CBS, stream the game here)
Someone at NFL headquarters must really hate the Chargers because no playoff team got hit with a worse kickoff time than them. There are a total of four time slots in the wild-card round and the Chargers basically ended up in the one where west coast teams go to die: The dreaded 10 a.m. PT slot.
No, the game isn’t kicking off at 10 a.m. in Baltimore, but that’s what it’s going to feel like for the Chargers, who probably would have been happy playing on Saturday afternoon, Saturday night or Sunday afternoon or ANY TIME SLOT EXCEPT FOR THE ONE THEY’RE IN.
Is this a conspiracy by the NFL to make sure the Chargers don’t win so they can’t host any playoff games at their tiny soccer stadium? I’m not going to rule that out, but the one thing I will say is that they’re at a definite disadvantage and I even have some research to prove it thanks to my crack research team, which is actually just me.
Here’s how ugly things get when a western team has to play in an early game during the playoffs: Since 2002, Pacific and Mountain time zone teams have been outscored 202-56 in the first half of all 1 p.m. ET playoff games. If you’re thinking, “Now I know why China only has one time zone for the entire country,” I was also thinking that. It’s so every sports team is on an even playing field when they meet in the postseason.
As much as I clearly want to pick against the Chargers, the problem is that I’m not exactly sold on the Ravens and that’s because they’re starting a rookie quarterback. I mean, have you ever watched a rookie quarterback in the playoffs? They always look lost, they always make mistakes and the ending is usually predictable. It’s basically like watching Matthew McConaughey in any romantic comedy.
Not only have rookie quarterbacks lost five straight playoff games, but the last win by a rookie quarterback only happened because he was playing another rookie quarterback, so a rookie quarterback had to win (Russell Wilson vs. RG3 in January 2013). The advantage for the Ravens is that when a rookie struggles in the postseason, it’s usually throwing the ball and the Ravens might not have to worry about that against the Chargers. If I’m the Ravens, I take football back to 1937 on Sunday and I don’t throw a forward pass the entire game.
After picking against the Ravens for the past three weeks, Ravens fans don’t want me anywhere near their bandwagon…
… but I’ve now decided to hijack the bandwagon and I think I might end up riding this thing all the way to the Super Bowl. I hope I don’t jinx your team.
The pick: Ravens 19-16 over Chargers
Record picking Chargers games this season: 12-4
Record picking Ravens games this season: 8-8
No. 6 Philadelphia (9-7) at No. 3 Chicago (12-4)
4:40 p.m. ET (NBC)
This game kind of reminds me of David vs. Goliath, except David never actually loses because he’s Nick Foles. On paper, this is a total mismatch. The Bears defense should be able to suffocate the Eagles offense, but I’m not entirely convinced that Foles even breathes oxygen, so I’m not sure that would work. I think what I’m trying to say here is that I’m not sure how you stop Foles.
The scary thing for the Bears is that Foles clearly didn’t use all of his magic during last year’s run to the Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, I think he might actually have more magic now than he had last year. I mean, just look at what he’s done over the past three weeks: He beat the 11-2 Rams, he broke the Eagles franchise-record for passing yards in a win over the Texans AND he tied the NFL-record for most consecutive completions in a win over the Redskins. He also might be the best third down quarterback on the planet.
Apparently, the only thing Foles can’t do right is earn his bonuses.
If I’m the Eagles, I cut him a check for $5 million this week and tell him there’s $10 million more where that came from if he beats the Bears. Although I just spent 200 words talking about Foles, this game is probably going to come down to whether or not Mitchell Trubisky can handle the spotlight. The Eagles have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL — it’s ranked 30th overall — but the fact that they’re bad won’t matter if Trubusky can’t take advantage of them, and based on what I’ve seen from him this season, there’s a 50-50 chance he won’t be able to take advantage of them.
My head says pick the Bears, my heart says pick the Eagles and although Foles does everything with his heart, I’m going with my head here. Man, now my heart hurts, but that might just be acid reflux caused by all the cheap champagne I drank on New Year’s Eve.
The pick: Bears 20-17 over Eagles
Record picking Eagles games this season: 8-8
Record picking Bears games this season: 11-5
Best pick: Last week, I predicted the Dolphins would score 17 points in a loss to the Bills, and then the Dolphins went out and scored 17 points in a loss to the Bills. Now, did I know they were going to get beaten so badly that it was going to cause owner Stephen Ross to have a meltdown and fire Adam Gase? Of course, I did. I’ve seen Ryan Tannehill play enough football this year to know that it was only a matter of time before he played so badly that it would cost his coach his job. Tannehill threw two interceptions and I’m pretty sure Gase knew he was getting fired as soon as the second one happened. The best thing about this game is that some fans were kind of enough to put together a video that basically serves as the perfect metaphor for the Dolphins’ season.
The guy in the Tannehill jersey represents Tannehill. The broken table symbolizes Gase’s career in Miami. The fire is Ross and the Bills fans are just Bills fans who are only there because they like watching things burn.
Worst pick: Last week, I assumed the Bears were going to rest their starters against the Vikings, and let me just say, that was the most incorrect assumption I’ve ever made in my life. Instead of resting their starters, the Bears decided to destroy the Vikings and completely wipe them off the face off the planet. No one wearing purple was safe.
Kirk Cousins? He got massacred.
Adam Thielen? Annihilated.
The Bears showed no mercy. I mean, they almost sent a cheerleader to concussion protocol.
The Vikings had everything to play for on Sunday against the Bears and they couldn’t even come up with a win. I think the moral of the story here is don’t spend $84 million in fully guaranteed money on a quarterback, especially if your receivers don’t seem to really like that quarterback.
I hope all your important conversations in 2019 go better than that.
Happy New Year everyone! Let’s do this again next week for Divisional Round picks.
Straight up in Week 17: 10-6
Final 2018 regular season record SU: 166-88-2 (Ranked 22nd overall on Pickwatch)
Against the spread in Week 17: 10-6
Final 2018 regular season record ATS: 123-126-7
Exact score predictions: 2
Wild-card record last year
Against the spread: 1-3
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably writing down his 2020 New Year’s resolution, which is not to make New Year’s resolutions.
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