Washington Commanders v Los Angeles Rams
Getty Images

There are just 14 teams left standing in the NFL and tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of the clubs set to duke it out over Super Wild Card Weekend. And this is the type of stuff we live for. Must-win, gotta-have-it games featuring the very best that the league has to offer. As we sit back and enjoy the final weeks of the NFL season, I'll try to help you earn some dough for whatever offseason plans you may have. I wrapped up the regular season on quite the run, owning a 32-16 ATS record over the final three weeks which included a 12-4 ATS mark in Week 18. 

As we pivot to the opening weekend of the playoffs, I'll comb through every game and give my take on who I see advancing to the divisional round. 

2023 record


Regular season
Locks of the Week ATS
: 45-45-1
ATS: 145-116-11
ML: 174-98

All NFL odds via SportsLine consensus odds.

Browns at Texans

  • Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC, fubo)  

Two of my favorite storylines throughout the year clash in this opening game of the playoffs. Joe Flacco coming out of NOWHERE to lead the Browns to the playoffs wasn't on a lot of people's bingo cards this year, and I don't think C.J. Stroud becoming the clear top QB of this rookie class and winning the division for the Texans was either. Which storyline will have a playoff victory in its next chapter? I think it's going to be Houston. While the Browns have a reputation for having one of the top defenses in the league, they've been an entirely different unit on the road compared to who they are at home. Away from Cleveland, the defense is allowing 29.6 points per game (tied for most in the NFL) and 331.1 total yards per game. The Browns are also 3-5 straight-up and 2-5-1 ATS (1-2 ATS as a favorite) on the road this season. 

Projected score: Texans 27, Browns 23
The pick: Texans +2.5

Dolphins at Chiefs

  • Saturday, 8 p.m. ET (Peacock)  

If both of these teams were humming at full speed, you could make the case that this is the top game on the playoff slate. However, neither one has looked like themselves this season. For the Chiefs, that's been the case all year with their passing game struggling mightily due to their lack of talent at receiver. As for the Dolphins, they've been beaten down by injuries over the last few weeks, which has them hobbling in as the No. 6 seed after choking away the division crown to Buffalo. While neither team instills a ton of confidence, I'm going to ride with Kansas City here. In the playoffs, if you have a strong defense, sturdy running game, and smart quarterback play, you can go far. The Chiefs have that.

Meanwhile, the weather is expected to be a factor in this head-to-head with temperatures forecasted to be in the single digits. In games under 70 degrees, Tua Tagovailoa is 6-13. In the five coldest starts of his career, the Dolphins QB has completed just 57% of his passes. This is not even mentioning Miami's struggles against elite talent this season. When they squared up against teams that made the playoffs this year, the Dolphins are 1-5. 

Projected score: Chiefs 27, Dolphins 21
The pick: Chiefs -3.5

Steelers at Bills

T.J. Watt has been ruled out for this game, which puts a severe dent in Pittsburgh's chances of disrupting Josh Allen and pulling off the upset. Without Watt, the Steelers are 1-10, allow an average of six more points a game, and have half as many sacks per game. Meanwhile, the Bills winning the AFC East in Week 18 and jumping up to the No. 2 seed is a massive development because they are a far superior team at home than they are on the road, which includes the play from Allen. The Bills quarterback is completing 67.6% of his passes and has a 102.4 passer rating at Highmark Stadium compared to a 65.4 completion percentage and an 83.0 passer rating on the road. He's also thrown for more touchdowns and fewer interceptions at home as well. Translation: The Steelers are going to get the best version of Allen in this game, which is a terrifying thought for their hopes of advancing. 

Projected score: Bills 28, Steelers 17
The pick: Bills -10

Packers at Cowboys

  • Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)  

Green Bay making the playoffs in what was considered to be a rebuilding year under Jordan Love is a great story, but it comes to a rather swift end here in Dallas. The Cowboys, in my mind, are one of the handful of these teams to be a legit Lombardi Trophy threat and this is a favorable matchup for Mike McCarthy as he faces his former team. Statistically, Green Bay's secondary has played well over the last two weeks, but I would argue that's a bit of fool's gold when you look further at the quarterbacks the Packers were facing in those games. Jaren Hall/Nick Mullens are borderline backups and Justin Fields is still a run-first quarterback, so the numbers are skewed. I still believe they are weak on that side of the ball, which Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense should be able to exploit. Dallas is also 8-0 at home this season and are averaging 37.4 points per game at AT&T Stadium, while holding opponents to 15.9 points per game. Unless Dallas completely falls on its face (which would likely lead to a possible McCarthy firing), there's no reason to think they won't blow this Packers team out. 

Projected score: Cowboys 30, Packers 20
The pick: Cowboys -7.5

Rams at Lions

  • Sunday, 8 p.m. ET (NBC, fubo)  

I was admittedly rooting for the Rams to beat the 49ers last week, so we'd get this matchup. The Lions are hosting a playoff game for the first time in decades and who do they see walking through the doors of the visiting locker room? MATTHEW STAFFORD! It's an incredible turn of events that Stafford faces his former team and Goff also goes toe to toe with the team that traded him away a few seasons ago as well. From an off-field narrative standpoint, you can't ask for much better. And I think Stafford is going to get the better of the Lions here with the Rams pulling off the upset. 

The Rams are one of the hottest teams entering these playoffs as they are 7-1 in their last eight games. They are averaging 28.3 points per game over that stretch (fourth-best in the NFL) and averaging 385.6 total yards per game. Detroit's defense has been a massive problem for them this season and could lead this game into becoming a shootout. The secondary allowed 7.2 yards per pass (30th in the NFL) and the defense ranked 29th in red zone touchdown efficiency in the regular season. If this turns into a high-flying affair, my money is on Stafford, who is 4-0 in the playoffs as the Rams QB. For what it's worth, Sean McVay is also 3-1 ATS in road playoff games. 

Projected score: Rams 27, Lions 24
The pick: Rams +3.5

Eagles at Buccaneers

  • Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN, fubo)  

We wrap up the wild-card slate on Monday night in Tampa for a game between the Bucs and Eagles. This was one of the more difficult games for me to handicap because it's hard to imagine the Eagles being a first-round exit, but that's the way I'm leaning. The vibes around Philadelphia throughout the second half of the season have been horrible and the Eagles seem to have completely lost their identity. Not to mention Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown got banged up in the Week 18 finale against New York. The defense is also allowing 30.3 points per game over the last six games (second-most in the league), so it's hard to have much confidence in that group. I think Tampa Bay will be able to score against this defense leading to a possibly monster game for Mike Evans and the Bucs defense has been superb since the start of December allowing just 16.3 points per game. Baker Mayfield pulls off the upset and sends the defending NFC champions home for the winter. 

Projected score: Buccaneers 24, Eagles 23
The pick: Buccaneers +2.5