Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 NFL Wild Card Picks

Texans -3.5 versus Raiders

The Raiders might be the better team at full strength, but not having Derek Carr at quarterback changes everything for them. Now fourth round rookie Connor Cook is making his first start in a road playoff game and will be without left tackle Donald Penn against Jadeveon Clowney. That's enough for me even if Brock Osweiler is being pressed back into action at quarterback after getting benched. With Lamar Miller expected back healthy enough to be a workhorse runner, the Bill O'Brien should get his first playoff win at home.
JD Clowney has shown why he was a #1 pick now that he's healthy.

Seahawks -8 versus Lions

Although this Seattle team hasn't been as good as in recent years and have a rash of injuries, they still have one of the best home field advantages in the league and the better quarterback in Russell Wilson. All of those fourth quarter comebacks were impressive by Matthew Stafford, but this team was behind so often for a reason, ranking 28th in Football Outsiders DVOA overall and 32nd on defense. I'd probably stay away from this line since it's higher than I like, but I have a hard time seeing Detroit going in and pulling off the upset in this spot.

Dolphins +11 at Steelers

This is another line that I would stay away from because I don't expect Miami to go into Pittsburgh and get a win, but I can't shake the fact that they won pretty convincingly at home back in Week 6. That was Jay Ajayi's breakout game, and he hasn't looked back since, which could help them stay in the game. In the end, I just don't trust the Steelers defense enough to lay this many points.
I wouldn't expect 200 yards again, but Ajayi can keep this one from getting away.
Packers -4.5 versus Giants

This is an interesting one with some history between these teams since New York won in Green Bay during both of Eli Manning's Super Bowl runs. The overtime thriller against the 13-3 2007 Packers turned out to be Brett Favre's last game with the team while the 2011 Packers were stunned 37-20 following their dominant 14-2 season as defending champs, so you can bet that the crowd will be rowdy looking for revenge. On the field, it should be close as Aaron Rodgers is red hot and leading Football Outsiders' #4 offense against DPOY candidate Landon Collins and the #2 defense. Odell Beckham could definitely burn the #20 defense, but the offense overall only ranks 22nd in DVOA and tends to rely on his spectacular plays, which is hard to count on. Green Bay's lowly pass rank feels inflated a bit due to all of their injuries during the year, though, so I'm rolling with the better quarterback at home.

Last week: 4-1
Season total: 52-41-3

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