NFL Playoff Picks: Saints over Eagles in shootout, Patriots beat Chargers by TD
Wondering which teams are going to advance in the playoffs? You've come to the right place to find out
Let's just get this out of the way right now: My picks in in the wild-card round were putrid.
After rolling through the regular season, I came out and choked in the playoffs, which kind of makes me feel like the Texans. Although whiffing on my picks was painful, I think I can safely say that multiple people had a worse weekend than me, namely Cody Parkey, every Bears fans and the Seahawks offensive coordinator. I would've added Staley Da Bear to that list, but I'm not even sure he's alive.
I know how you feel Staley, that's how I felt about going 1-3 with my picks.
Like any ugly loss, the key is to move forward and get better, so that's what I'm going to do. Let's hurry up and get to the divisional round picks so I can put the wild-card round behind me.
Actually, before we get to the picks, here's your weekly reminder to check out the picks from all our other CBS Sports NFL writers, which you can do by clicking here. I should probably point out that not everyone was as bad as me in the wild-card round. As a matter of fact, Pete Prisco went 4-0 against the spread. If Prisco's smart, he'll take all the money he won betting on his picks last week and bet them on my picks this week.
If you're not quite ready to move on to this week's picks and you want to re-live the wild-card round, you can do that by clicking here and subscribing to the Pick Six Podcast. I team up with Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough every week for an NFL recap show that you can download each and every Monday morning until the end of the season. This week we recapped the first four playoff games and then spent some serious time talking about what our favorite Super Bowl match-up would me.
Alright, let's get to the picks, and for your sake, I hope I don't jinx your favorite team.
What TV will you be watching the games on? CNET shared their best picks for every budget.
NFL Divisional Picks
Saturday, January 12
No. 6 Indianapolis (11-6) at No. 1 Kansas City (12-4)
4:35 p.m. ET (NBC)
Line: Chiefs, -5.5
The Chiefs might be the top seed in the AFC and the favorite to win this game, but let me tell you one thing, fans in Kansas City definitely are not getting overconfident. As a matter of fact, I think they might be under-confident. Is that a word? If not, I'm trademarking it now, putting it on a t-shirt and selling that t-shirt to Chiefs fans.
If you're wondering what the mood is in Kansas City heading into this week's game against the Colts, well, let me just that it's the exact mood you would expect from a fan base that's been put through 25 years of playoff misery.
I think those two might be onto something, and that's because the Colts are basically the Chiefs worse nightmare. The Chiefs had NFL's second-worst passing defense in 2018, the Colts have Andrew Luck. The Chiefs gave up 5.0 yards per carry this year (second-worst in the NFL), the Colts have a running back who averages 4.7 yards per carry and a quarterback who can scramble. The Chiefs tied for the league-lead in sacks with 52, the Colts never let Andrew Luck get sacked (He was sacked a league-low 18 times).
Although I'm pretty sure it was by accident, the Colts roster is basically designed to exploit every Chiefs weakness. The one thing the Chiefs do have is Patrick Mahomes, and if he's proven one thing this year, it's that he has the talent to overcome any defensive deficiency the Chiefs might have. Mahomes has proven he doesn't need any defensive help, which is a good thing for him, because about 50 percent of the time he doesn't get it.
The problem for Mahomes is that when quarterbacks struggle in the playoffs it usually comes in their first start. Three quarterbacks made their first playoff start this year and they all lost (Lamar Jackson, Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson), which definitely isn't good news for Mahomes.
I'll be honest, besides the Bengals, there's no team in the NFL that I have less faith in to win a playoff game than the Chiefs. They haven't won a playoff game at home since the 1993 season. They haven't won a divisional playoff game since the 1993 season. They've never beaten the Colts in the playoffs (0-4), and if the Chiefs have proven one thing under Andy Reid, it's that they basically specialize in finding impossible ways to lose in the postseason. During the playoffs, Reid throws all logic out the window, along with his clock management skills and most of his decision-making abilities.
Also, I can't even count on Reid to win coming off a bye anymore. Although Reid's 17-3 off a bye in the regular season and 3-1 in playoffs, he's just 1-2 off a bye in his past three games (Win in 2018, loss in 2017, loss in 2016 divisional playoff game)
If I can't count on Reid off a bye, I can't count on anything in life.
The pick: Colts 37-34 over Chiefs
Record picking Colts games this season: 13-4 (includes 1-0 in playoffs)
Record picking Chiefs games this season: 13-3
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No. 4 Dallas (11-6) at No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (13-3)
8:15 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Rams, -7
Besides the Eagles, the biggest winner of Cody Parkey's missed field goal might have been the Cowboys. Instead of playing on the road in New Orleans this week against a Saints team that would have been out for revenge, the Cowboys get a home game in Los Angeles. Sure, it's technically a home game for the Rams, but if the Coliseum isn't at least 65 percent full of Cowboys fans, I'll be shocked. I mean, LeBron James is basically the unofficial president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Cowboys fan club, which has to mean something. Now, I'm not sure what the something is, but I think it means he'll be tweeting up a storm to make sure Cowboys fans show up to the Coliseum in full force.
Of course, a de facto home game is exactly what the Cowboys need right now, because if there's one thing they're really bad at, it's winning on the road in the playoffs. Over the past 25 years, the Cowboys have played seven playoff games on the road and they've lost them all. They've also lost every divisional game they've played in since the 1996 season (0-5), and oh my gosh, I feel like I'm writing about the Chiefs again with all these playoff losses.
The thing about the Cowboys though is that they have the ultimate playoff weapon: Ezekiel Elliott. If the Cowboys are smart, they are going to get out two spoons and feed Zeke for three straight hours on Saturday.
I'm not sure if Zeke is on a gluten-free diet, but whatever the Cowboys are feeding him, it's working. He rushed for 137 yards against the Seahawks and that number might go even higher in Los Angeles, and that's because the Rams gave up more yards per carry this year (5.1) than any other team in the NFL. The Seahawks gave up the third-most yards per carry and we saw what Zeke did to them.
Zeke is expected to be looking for an extension this offseason and if he has a huge game against the Rams, I'm thinking his value is going to shoot up to about $500 million, which is somewhat ironic, because I think that's how much Jerry Jones spent on this yacht he bought in December.
The winner of this game should get a yacht.
The pick: Cowboys 23-20 over Rams
Record picking Cowboys games this season: 8-9 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)
Record picking Rams games this season: 13-3
Sunday January 13
No. 5 Los Angeles Chargers (13-4) at No. 2 New England (11-5)
1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Patriots, -4.5
I'll be honest, I'm not sure how the Chargers are going to win this week and that's because everyone seems to be plotting against them, and by everyone, I actually just mean Roger Goodell and Mother Nature, but that might as well be everyone, because no one in the football world wields more power than those two.
Let's start with Goodell. Apparently, the officiating was so bad in the Chargers-Ravens game on Sunday that a Chargers offensive lineman (Russell Okung) is now convinced that Goodell is so that they lose and can't host the AFC Championship game at their tiny 27,000-seat soccer stadium.
As far as football-related conspiracy theories go, this is probably my second-favorite one ever, and if you're wondering what my favorite one is, just Google, "Is O.J. Simpson Khloe Kardashian's father," and then I'll see you in three hours when you're done going down that rabbit hole.
Now, I'm not saying Okung is right or wrong, but I am saying that the Chargers are playing their second 10 a.m. PT game in a row. Also, who was Chargers owner Dean Spanos texting during the Ravens game? WAS IT GOODELL? HOW HIGH DOES THIS CONSPIRACY GO? OKUNG DESERVES ANSWERS.
As if that's not bad enough, the Chargers also have to deal with Mother Nature and that's because she has apparently decided to become a Patriots fan this week.
I mean, I'm not even sure that Chargers players know what snow is and now they might have to play in it. I lived in Southern California for two years and it didn't snow once. As a matter of fact, after one year without snow, I stopped believing that it existed. The problem with this weather is that there's no way to prepare for it. Unless the Chargers are taking their practice to Northern Canada for the week, and I don't think they are, I kind of feel like this weather give the Patriots a huge advantage.
That being said, if we don't count the weather, there are a lot reasons to like the Chargers in this game. They're undefeated outside of Los Angeles this year (9-0), Philip Rivers looks unstoppable and they arguably have the more talented roster.
The problem with all of this is that I really only have one rule when it comes to picking playoff games and that rule is never pick against the Patriots in the divisional round. Since 2011, the Patriots are 7-0 in the divisional round and they've scored an average of 37.1 points in those games. The thing I like about the Patriots this year is that I think they'll come out of their playoff bye completely refreshed. With Rob Gronkowski's body falling apart and Tom Brady getting aches where 41-year-olds get aches, no team needed the bye more than New England and they got it, and I don't think they're going to waste it.
The pick: Patriots 27-20 over Chargers
Record picking Chargers games this season: 12-5 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)
Record picking Patriots games this season: 10-6
No. 6 Philadelphia (10-7) at No. 1 New Orleans (13-3)
4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Saints, -8
Have you ever woken up so hungover that you swear you're never going to drink again, but then you drink again the very next week? Not only does that describe my sophomore year in college, but it also basically describes me and Nick Foles right now. Every time I pick against Foles, I tell myself that I'm never going to do it again, but then I do it again. I picked against him last year, I picked against him last week, and now, I'm going into another game with thoughts of picking against him. I need to be sent to some sort of Nick Foles rehab center.
After upsetting the Bears last week, Foles will now be facing his biggest test yet: The Saints. Back in Week 11, the Saints destroyed Philadelphia 48-7 in what ended up being the second biggest blowout of the entire NFL season. Normally, I could just stop writing right there, because if you get blown out like that in the NFL, you almost never end up winning a postseason rematch. Since 2012, there have been 14 teams that got a playoff rematch after losing to a team by 20 or more points during the regular season and those teams have gone 1-13 in the rematch.
Of course, the catch here is that Foles didn't play in the 41-point loss, so I'm not even sure it counts. The thing about the first game is that the Eagles defense looked helplessly overmatched. Drew Brees threw for 363 and four touchdowns and I'm pretty sure the Eagles couldn't have stopped him if they were allowed to have 17 players on the field at a time. The thing is, the Eagles secondary hasn't gotten much better, and although Foles will be on the field this time around, he doesn't play defense, so I'm not sure how much having him is going to help.
At this point, the only thing that can counter Foles' magic is some sort of voodoo, which makes me think that New Orleans might actually be the only city where he can't win. As a matter of fact, Foles has one loss as a starter in his postseason career and that loss came against the Saints in January 2014. Last week, my head said to pick the Bears and my heart said to pick the Eagles. This week, they both say to pick the Saints.
The pick: Saints 31-24 over Eagles
Note: If the Eagles somehow win this game, I'm never drinking again or picking against Foles again... or maybe just one of the two.
Of course, no matter who wins Sunday, the real winner here is Westlake High School in Austin, Texas because that's where both Brees and Foles attended, with Brees graduating in 1997 and Foles graduating in 2007.
Advantage: Westlake. I think.
Record picking Eagles games this season: 8-9 (includes 0-1 in playoffs)
Record picking Saints games this season: 10-6
Best pick: When you only get one pick right, you don't have much of a choice on what goes in the best pick section, and I only Raiders team that had to start Connor Cook at quarterback because Derek Carr broke his leg, so I'm not even sure that counts. I would also like to thank Deshaun Watson for throwing every pass into the ground like he was trying to murder a family of gophers at NRG Stadium.: Colts over Texans. First, I would like to formally thank Andrew Luck and the Colts for not letting my week turn into a total disaster. I would also like to thank Bill O'Brien for being the closest thing we have to Marvin Lewis now that Marvin Lewis is gone. Although O'Brien does have a playoff win with the Texans, it came over a
The good news for Watson is that he now has an entire offseason to figure out who he should be throwing the ball to.
And now, that takes us to my worst pick.
Worst pick: Everything. I'm not sure where to start with my worst pick, so I'm going to start with the Seahawks. If I had known that Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was going to rip out the section of his play book that contains the forward pass, I probably would have picked the Cowboys last week. I mean, that guy was determined to establish the run, even when it became clear that there was no way the run was going to be established. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Schottenheimer was also calling plays for the Ravens, because they tried to do the exact same thing on Sunday. I think the moral of the story here is never bet $300,000 on the Ravens.
All the sudden, my 1-3 record for the week doesn't seem so bad.
Straight up in wild-card round: 1-3
SU overall in playoffs: 1-3
Against the spread in wild-card round: 2-2
ATS overall in playoffs: 2-2
Final 2018 regular-season record
Straight-up: 166-88-2 (Ranked 22nd overall on Pickwatch)
Against the spread: 123-126-7
Exact score predictions: 2
You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not doing one of those things, he's probably talking to his life coach about why he always picks against Nick Foles in the playoffs even though Nick Foles never loses.
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