“Playoffs? Did you say ‘playoffs?!’”
Yes, we did. The NFL Playoffs are here, and it all kicks off with wild card weekend.
There are only four games on the docket this week, as teams try to reach the divisional round on the road to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta on February 3.
PGA Tour caddies Joe Skovron, Mark Urbanek and Justin York, along with LPGA caddie Chris McCalmont, are here to offer up their respective prognostications for how wild card weekend will play out.
Here’s who they like and why…
Indy at Houston
Spread: Houston -1.5
Skovron’s Pick: Indy
Why: Every stat you look at, this seems to come out as a very even game and both of their meetings this season are proof of that. The betting tickets are very evenly split as well. Really just got to go with your gut on this one. I think the key will be the Indy running game. If they can run it effectively, they get the job done.
Urbanek’s Pick: Indy
Why: I think this is the best Indy team since they last won the Super Bowl. Luck is healthy, has a decent O-line and a rushing attack to boot. I’ll take the points and figure they’ll make a nice run at next week’s game, too. Indy 31, Houston 27.
York’s Pick: Houston
Why: The road team has won the last two matchups in this rivalry… but wait one second. Indy’s little win streak comes to a close this week. The Texans play great at home and their stellar pass-rush disrupts Andrew Lucks’s MVP season en route to a two-score win over the Colts.
McCalmont’s Pick: Houston
Why: Basically, a pick ‘em game. Both teams are playing well, have great quarterbacks and a good defense. I’m simply picking Houston because they are at home.
Seattle at Dallas
Spread: Dallas -2
Skovron’s Pick: Seattle
Why: This is another game that seems to be evenly matched on paper. It’s not lopsided on the betting tickets either. They are saying that KJ Wright is ready to play the whole game. That’s good news for Bobby Wagner and the Seahawks D. On the other side, I think Dallas might have the best set of LBs in the game. Their ability to stop Russell Wilson from getting outside the pocket will go a long way in determining the result of this game. I just think Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll are winners, so I’m going with the Seahawks.
Urbanek’s Pick: Seattle
Why: Two well-balanced teams here, hard to see a clear edge for either team, in my opinion. I’m taking the legs of Russell Wilson as the winning factor in a tight one. Seattle 21, Dallas 20.
York’s Pick: Dallas
Why: At home and with momentum on their side, the Boys look to win just their second wildcard-round game in more than a dozen years. Russell Wilson is one of the toughest QBs to face in the playoffs, but this isn’t the same team he faced with Earl Thomas and an Amari Cooper-less Cowboys. This will be a dogfight but look for Dallas to edge Seattle in this one.
McCalmont’s Pick: Dallas
Why: While Seattle has the playoff experience, Dallas, overall, has the better team, and similarly to the Texans, I’m picking the home team.
LA Chargers at Baltimore
Spread: Baltimore -2.5
Skovron’s Pick: Chargers
Why: Public heavily on the Chargers in this one. That usually means a Ravens bet is the way to go. If you have ever read these picks, or know me, you know I’m not picking the Ravens. I said that I was fine with playing the Ravens again as soon as the Bolts lost a close one two weeks ago. The Ravens stifled the Chargers O and completely dominated the game. The Bolts were still driving to win the game when Gates fumbled on his way down and it was returned for a TD. I’m banking on coaching adjustments, being a better team, and Rivers playing like the star he is. The biggest concern for the Bolts is being so lean at linebacker. This could be a problem against a run-heavy team like Baltimore. Bolts still get it done!
Urbanek’s Pick: Baltimore
Why: Lamar Jackson is a winner, that is all. For the same reason Baker was a proper No. 1, some guys just have it and are born leaders. Baltimore’s D is legit, which doesn’t hurt either! LA 17, Baltimore 24.
York’s Pick: Chargers
Why: The Bolts are, in my opinion, the best team in the NFL playoffs. They have been a little shaky as of late with the scoring offense but look to take it to the “hanging on by a thread” Baltimore Ravens. This will be the first playoff test for rookie QB Lamar Jackson, but a tough one. He’ll go against a great D led by Joey Bosa and rookie Derwin James. Don’t think this will be much of a game even though the Ravens have the league’s top defense. This one will be won outright by the Chargers due to Baltimore’s inability to score.
McCalmont’s Pick: Chargers
Why: The Chargers play better on the road (7-1) vs. home (5-3). They have the experienced quarterback in Rivers vs. the rookie, Lamar Jackson. Melvin Gordon is the best running back on either team; the Chargers’ defense is comparable to the Ravens’ top defense. And having just played the Ravens two weeks ago will be helpful in preparations, as I think the Chargers win outright, 23-16.
Philly at Chicago
Spread: Chicago -6
Skovron’s Pick: Chicago
Why: I understand that Foles worked his magic to get the Eagles into the playoffs and that everyone is having visions of last year. Don’t forget that Chicago won its last four games outright and against the spread and finished 12-4 in both as well. This defense has been dominant after the Mack trade and Nagy has done a great job of using his weapons on offense. As long as Trubisky doesn’t make some big mistakes, I think the Bears roll.
Urbanek’s Pick: Eagles
Why: My brain is screaming that the Bears will dominate this one and it’s an obvious pick, but my heart doesn’t want any part of it. Until Foles’ magic ends, I’m siding with the champs. Bears win, but the Eagles keep it tight enough to cover. Eagles 17, Bears 20.
York’s Pick: Chicago
Why: Never underestimate the power of Nick Foles in the playoffs. Unless he is of course going against a Khalil Mack Bears defense. Mitchell Trubisky might be the Achilles heel of the Chicago Bears, but won’t hinder them this week against a defenseless Philadelphia Eagles team. Foles will keep the game close for a while but will be too much to climb for the Eagles to defeat the Bears. Chicago separates themselves late in this one and win by a TD.
McCalmont’s Pick: Eagles
Why: Bears win outright, 20-17, ending the Nick Foles fairytale, Part 2. But six points is too much to give the defending Super Bowl champs. I like Foles over Trubisky, but he will do enough, along with the Bears vaunted D and home-field advantage.