The first game of Wild Card Weekend also happens to be the least interesting. 

The Titans might be the No. 5 seed in the AFC, but they also seem like the least-deserving playoff team this year. Tennessee was outscored on the season and fielded below-average outfits on both offense and defense. Marcus Mariota stagnated. DeMarco Murray regressed. Derrick Henry was ... fine. Corey Davis barely contributed. Eric Decker didn't exactly work out. The defense was terrible for much of the year. 

The Chiefs fielded one of the NFL's best offenses for most of the season, and got back on track in a big way down the stretch after a midseason stumble. If they were squaring off against an opponent with an offense equipped to get into a track meet with them, their lackluster defense might lead one to pick against them -- but this Tennessee offense is uninspiring. The Chiefs seem thus like the biggest lock of the week. 

At least the Saturday night game should be considerably more interesting, with the best offense of 2016 taking on one of the most improved offenses in NFL history. Kyle Shanahan lifted the 2016 Falcons offense to new heights by scheming Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman into position to succeed. Those players are all incredibly talented, and they took advantage of the way Shanahan used them to become one of the highest-scoring offenses ever. They regressed this season under Steve Sarkisian, while the Rams shot up to lead the league in scoring. 

Sean McVay engineered one of the great turnarounds anyone has ever seen, taking Jared Goff from a player that looked like he didn't belong in the league and turning him into one of the NFC's best passers. Todd Gurley was arguably the NFL's best offensive player. The former Bills receiving corps (Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins) suddenly formed the core of one of the best passing offenses in football. The Rams are fast and fun, and they're incredibly tough to stop -- even for a defense as athletic as the Falcons. 

Sunday's games carry a ton of intrigue as well, with Marcell Dareus facing off with his former team -- one that made the playoffs on a last-second miracle performed by Andy Dalton, of all people. The Bills center their offense on the running game, and if they were playing the early-season Jaguars, that might have worked out incredibly well for them on Sunday. The problem is that the Jaguars' run defense took off into the stratosphere after the team acquired Dareus from the Bills, and now it's pretty much impossible to move the ball on them on the ground or through the air. It's hard to see how the Bills come away with a win unless Blake Bortles completely self-destructs. That's entirely within the realm of possibility, of course, but the Jacksonville defense might be good enough to win them the game even if Bortles plays poorly. 

In the late Sunday game, the Saints will be going for their third win of the season against the division rival Panthers. Both teams have strong defenses and running games, but the Saints have a vastly superior air offense. That helped them win the first matchup of the season against Carolina, with Drew Brees throwing three touchdowns to Cam Newton's three interceptions. Newton should have more success than that this time, but it's hard to picture the Carolina defense shutting down all of the Saints' various weapons. Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Ted Ginn, Brandon Coleman, and Willie Snead are just too much for one team to deal with. 

Here is the entire Wild Card Weekend schedule:

Saturday, Jan. 6

AFC: (5) Tennessee (9-7) at (4) Kansas City (10-6), 4:35 p.m. ET (ESPN/ABC)
NFC: (6) Atlanta (10-6) at (3) Los Angeles Rams (11-5), 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)

Sunday, Jan. 7

AFC: (6) Buffalo (9-7) at (3) Jacksonville (10-6), 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
NFC: (5) Carolina (11-5) at (4) New Orleans (11-5), 4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)

Wednesday odds update

All odds via SportsLine

Titans at Chiefs (-8.5)

  • The line was -7.5 on Monday
  • Kansas City against the spread: 10-6
  • Kansas City against the spread as the favorite: 8-5
  • Tennessee against the spread: 8-7-1
  • Tennessee against the spread as the underdog: 2-1

Falcons at Rams (-5.5)

  • The line was -5.5 on Monday
  • Atlanta against the spread: 7-9
  • Atlanta against the spread as the underdog: 0-2
  • Los Angeles against the spread: 9-7
  • Los Angeles against the spread as the favorite: 7-5

Bills at Jaguars (-9)

  • The line was -7.5 on Monday
  • Buffalo against the spread: 9-6-1
  • Buffalo against the spread as the underdog: 4-5
  • Jacksonville against the spread: 9-7
  • Jacksonville against the spread as the favorite: 6-5

Panthers at Saints (-7)

  • The line was -6 on Monday
  • Carolina against the spread: 9-7
  • Carolina against the spread as the underdog: 5-2
  • New Orleans against the spread: 9-7
  • New Orleans against the spread as the favorite: 8-3

My picks

Chiefs (-8.5)

If you could design an offense to succeed against the Tennessee defense, it would probably look a lot like the Kansas City offense. The Titans struggle against tight ends; the Chiefs have Travis Kelce. The Titans struggle against passes over the middle; the Chiefs have Travis Kelce. The Titans struggle to tackle on short passes to receivers and running backs; the Chiefs have Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt. The KC defense is not quite as strong as the offense, but Tennessee has struggled offensively all year, and it's difficult to predict a sudden breakout for the Titans with running back DeMarco Murray out for the game. The Chiefs take this one in a romp. 

Final score: Chiefs 33, Titans 14

Rams (-6.5)

The NFC is full of balanced teams that play high-level football on both offense and defense. The Rams count themselves among that group: Sean McVay's squad was one of five teams to rank inside the top 10 in both offensive and defensive DVOA this season, per Football Outsiders. (They were one of just two teams, along with the Steelers, to also rank in the top 10 in special teams DVOA.) The Falcons ... were not among that group. A year after leading the NFL in offensive DVOA, Atlanta dropped to ninth this year, and ranked 22nd on defense and 19th on special teams. 

Los Angeles has mismatches all over the field with Todd Gurley and their diverse crew of passing-game weapons, while the defense should be able to wreak havoc with Aaron Donald pushing the pocket up the middle against a gimpy Alex Mack and a backup guard in for Andy Levitre. The Rams should thus be able to hold serve. 

Final score: Rams 30, Falcons 20

Bills (+9)

The Bills finally making their way back to the playoffs is a great story, but I'm afraid their run won't last too long. If LeSean McCoy were healthier or if this game were being played in Buffalo, I might be tempted to pick the Bills to win the game here; but in Jacksonville, with McCoy coming off an injury, it's hard to go against that great Jaguars defense. I can't say I'm too comfortable laying nine points with Blake Bortles, though, so we're giving the Jags a touchdown-sized win. 

Final score: Jaguars 23, Bills 16

Saints (-7)

The Saints have already defeated the Panthers by double digits twice this season. They did it on the strength of Michael Thomas and the passing game in Week 3, then by riding Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and the run game 10 weeks later. The New Orleans offense has shown zero signs of slowing down throughout the season, while Carolina has shown the ability to score in only fits and starts. With this game taking place on the fast track down in New Orleans, it's hard to bet against the home team. It may not be a two-score win this time around, but the safe bet seems to be a safe win for the Saints. 

Final score: Saints 28, Panthers 20