clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL expert picks for Wild Card Weekend

Our experts give their picks ahead of an expanded Wild Card Weekend to open the NFL playoffs.

The biggest week of the playoffs is here, and in a slightly different format than we’re used to. Wild Card Weekend now boasts six games, with No. 7s playing No. 2s and only one team earning a bye. It’s being dubbed “Super Wild Card Weekend,” because everything seems better when you put the word “super” in front of it.

Now, let’s look around every game and what our experts are thinking.

Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills.

Every single one of the panel is going with the No. 2 seeded Bills to win this one. Honestly, it’s hard to argue with. Buffalo has been tremendous this year, while the Colts have been inconsistent at best. As always, there’s a chance for a shock ... but this might also be the safest game of the weekend.

Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks

One of the best things about the extended playoff format is how we get to see a couple of third games between fierce division rivals. In the NFC West this means a rubber match between the Rams and Seahawks, with the panel believing Seattle will get it done.

However, keep in mind that Los Angeles knows Seattle well, and the total point differential between their two games is just a +4 in Seattle’s favor. This will be a game to watch.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Washington Football Team

Easily the funniest game of the Wild Card round, the 11-5 Bucs are the road team against the NFC East winners, who barely won half as many games. Everyone believes Tom Brady will get it done on the road, and while I’m one of them, I can’t deny that WFT’s defense is scary and could give Brady a long day.

Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans.

This has every trapping of being the best game of the weekend. It wasn’t long ago that the Ravens looked like they’d be on the outside looking in, but surged back to close out the season. Tennessee, meanwhile, will hope Derrick Henry can bruise his way through the defense and carry them to victory, literally.

The panel is more or less split on this one, showing that it really could go either way.

Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints.

Only one member of the panel thinks the Bears could upset here. It’s understandable to doubt Chicago, but Mitchell Trubisky has been so hot-and-cold that there’s this factor to him that he could break out at any time and have a massive game.

Still, the Saints have Drew Brees back. They’re firing on all cylinders, and most believe this team could be Super Bowl bound.

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers.

I don’t even know what to say about this one. Nobody was better than Pittsburgh for the vast majority of the NFL season, then they fell off a cliff. Cleveland are in the playoffs in the first place because they beat the Steelers in Week 17, and it would make for one hell of a story to see Pittsburgh allow their division rivals in, then lose to them when it mattered.

This game is complicated vastly by a Covid outbreak in the Browns’ facility, which led to shutting down practice this week. We’ll need to see if that has an impact.

Our experts are picking Bills over Colts, Seahawks over Rams, Buccaneers over Washington, Ravens over Titans, Saints over Bears, and Steelers over Browns