Wild Cards: NFL Playoffs picks, predictions and bets
Quarterbacks making their NFL playoff debut measured against those with postseason experience have a 14-35-1 record against the spread.
When it comes to the NFL Playoffs, every little thing is magnified. The turnovers, for example, often spell the difference between the teams that stay alive and the ones that go home.
In last season’s playoffs, for example, the Cincinnati Bengals led with eight interceptions, and the Los Angeles Rams tied for second with 4. In the Super Bowl, the Rams defeated the amazing Bengals, in a much closer game than many anticipated.
The quarterback’s experience is vital
But, in addition to the importance of turnovers, there is another extremely important element in this mini-season at the beginning of the year: experience.
And by experience I mean specifically that of the most important player on any NFL team: the quarterback.
In 2022, five quarterbacks made their playoff debuts, and Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow was the only quarterback who didn’t lose in his first postseason game.
Derek Carr (Raiders), Kyler Murray (Cardinals), Mac Jones (Patriots) and Jalen Hurts (Eagles) went home after their first appearance. Not only that, their teams were outscored by a combined score of 112-43.
Quarterbacks who make their playoff debut against those with postseason experience have a 14-35-1 record against the spread, according to data from Yahoo! Sports.
Keep that in mind, because in the playoffs, sooner or later you're going to need your quarterback to make one or two plays that are probably going to decide the game.
Now let’s get to the picks:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Dallas (-2.5) at Tampa Bay
For Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, the Playoffs mean a new beginning, after a disappointing season in which TB12 salvaged several games at the last minute, sometimes at the last second, to finally win Worst Division in the NFL.
For the Dallas Cowboys this is the umpteenth chance to at least return to the NFC Championship Game, and finally having a shot at the Super Bowl.
The pressure then is on the team of Jerry Jones, who said earlier this week that regardless of Monday’s result, coach Mike McCarthy has his job secure.
Sorry, but I don't believe the Cowboys owner/general manager/spokesperson.
If Dallas loses for the second straight year in the first round of the playoffs, there’s no reason to think Jones will give McCarthy another chance.
So now more than ever, the Cowboys coach is in the hands of his quarterback.
And Dak Prescott has had a mediocre season, with 14 interceptions since returning from a thumb injury, which he suffered in Week 1 against Tampa Bay.
For Dallas, however, the key to the game is on the other side of the ball. The Cowboys defense needs to pressure and hit Brady all night.
The problem is that the Dallas front-7 stopped being that intimidating unit that collected quarterback sacks. In the last five games of the regular season, the Cowboys have recorded just six sacks, including three against Washington in Week 18. In the games against Houston and Philadelphia, they went scoreless.
Brady was only sacked 22 times, though he was hit 55 times, nearly double the hits (31) he took in 2021, largely due to the reconfiguration of the Bucs' offensive line.
If Micah Parsons (13.5 sacks on the season), Dorance Armstrong (8.5) and company don't come close, Brady will challenge a perimeter in which only Trevon Diggs generates respect.
The pick: Prescott and the Cowboys may fall prey to their own pressure; there will be exchanges of the ball and short fields for Brady, who in this kind of game does not usually forgive the opponent's mistakes. Bucs 23-17 Cowboys
Miami at Buffalo (-13)
Without Tua Tagovailoa, Miami will try to deliver the biggest upset of Super Wild Card Weekend with Skylar Thompson at QB1. There is no way. Bills 31-14 Dolphins
*Read “Game of the Week”
TWO MINUTE DRIVE
Seattle at San Francisco (-9.5)
Veteran Geno Smith and rookie Brock Purdy make their Playoff debut. The Niners swept Seattle in the regular season series by a combined score of 48-20. 49ers 26-13 Seahawks
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Jacksonville
Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence are two young quarterbacks who could dominate the AFC in no time. Today, Herbert has more and better weapons than Lawrence. Chargers 28-24 Jaguars
New York Giants at Minnesota (-3)
In the regular season, the Vikings defeated the Giants in a 27-24 thriller, with a last-second field goal. Due to Daniel Jones’ inexperience in the playoffs, there won’t be a need for all that drama this time around. Minnesota 27-20 NYG
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-8.5)
Lamar Jackson (knee) is out for the sixth straight game and his days in Baltimore are probably numbered. Everything indicates that Tyler Huntley will be the starting quarterback in Cincinnati and with him, I honestly don't see how they can surprise Joe Burrow and company. Bengals 23-14 Ravens
Last week: 12-5
Total for the season: 168-102-2
ON THE LINE OF PLAY
|Super Wild Card Weekend
|Seattle at San Francisco
|Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville
|Miami at Buffalo
|New York Giants at Minnesota
|Baltimore at Cincinnati
|Dallas at Tampa Bay