clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL playoff picks 2017: Experts say Seahawks, Steelers will rule at home on Wild Card Weekend

The Packers, Texans, Seahawks, and Steelers are all favored in a set of solid Wild Card matchups.

Pittsburgh, Seattle, Houston, and Green Bay. What do they all have in common? They’re all hosting playoff games this weekend, and they’re all expected to send their local crowds home happy after 2017’s Wild Card round.

SB Nation’s experts aren’t unanimous, but have come out in favor of home-field advantage in the opening round of the NFL playoffs. Even the Packers and Texans, hosting statistically better but flawed opponents, are favored to defend their turf and extend their seasons by at least one more week.

In Pittsburgh, that means a reversal of October’s fortunes. The Steelers lost to Sunday’s opponent Miami in a surprising upset back in Week 6, but that was due in part to a knee injury that wound up knocking Ben Roethlisberger out of action for the following three weeks. The veteran Super Bowl-winning quarterback is healthy and has led his team to seven straight wins and an AFC North championship in the interim.

So while the Dolphins have gone 9-2 since that date, they’re still 7.5-point underdogs on the banks where the Allegheny becomes the Ohio River.

Miami isn’t alone. Detroit limped into the playoffs after an 0-3 finish thanks to Washington’s Week 17 futility. The Lions locked down the NFC’s final wild card spot and earned a trip to one of the NFL’s toughest venues for their efforts. They’ll face a Seahawks team that needed an all-around brain fart to win the last time these two teams met.

Matthew Stafford will have to show the finger injury that derailed his MVP campaign is no longer affecting him. After a 23:5 TD:INT ratio to start his season, he’s thrown just three passes and five interceptions since donning a single glove to protect his mangled digit. He’ll have his hands full against a Seattle defense featuring All-Pros like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Michael Bennett.

The weekend’s other two games have shorter odds, but still appear pretty cut and dry with SB Nation’s NFL staff. The Packers are an overwhelming favorite to dispatch Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants, despite several questions hounding their secondary. Green Bay’s home-field advantage, a 17-degree day, and Aaron Rodgers’ masterful play in the team’s six-game winning streak have been enough to make most of the staff Cheeseheads, if just for one week.

This time last year, Connor Cook was enjoying a Big Ten championship and shaking off the beating he’d taken against Alabama in the College Football Playoff. This year, he’s getting ready to start a playoff game. That’s why the Texans are a favorite over a Raiders team down to its third-string quarterback after a brilliant regular season.

Cook will face off against Brock Osweiler in one of the league’s least compelling showdowns between starting quarterbacks. Osweiler ranked near the bottom among NFL passers in his first full season as a starter and was eventually replaced by Tom Savage, who then suffered a concussion in a meaningless game last week. That forced the former Bronco back into the lineup and made fans everywhere wonder if Houston can really have nice things.

But don’t let Cook-Osweiler spoil your Wild Card Weekend. Here are all of SB Nation’s picks for the first round of the 2017 NFL playoffs.

Wild Card picks

Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
OAK vs HOU HOU HOU HOU OAK HOU HOU HOU HOU HOU
DET vs SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA DET SEA SEA SEA SEA
MIA vs PIT MIA PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT
NYG vs GB GB GB NYG GB GB GB GB GB GB
Last week 11-5 9-7 9-7 11-5 11-5 8-8 11-5 12-4 13-3
Season total 156-98-2 161-93-2 160-94-2 158-96-2 154-100-2 147-107-2 161-93-2 150-104-2 167-87-2