On the surface, this season's wild-card round of the NFL playoffs doesn't look all that sexy.
You have one game where both teams have quarterback issues, two games where the home teams are big favorites and just one that is appears to be a must-see game, that being the New York Giants at the Green Bay Packers.
The Oakland Raiders-Houston Texans game looks like a how-not-to case on playing quarterback, a game that will be dominated by the defenses. The Seattle Seahawks are big favorites over the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers are 10-point favorites over the Miami Dolphins, even though Miami beat them earlier in the season.
It should make it easier to pick the games, but history says we should get at least one major upset and maybe two. In a year where there really aren't dominant teams -- OK, New England, but they don't play until next week -- we should expect tight games, right?
On the surface, it's not an intriguing first weekend. But we know better than to think we have a handle on the NFL playoffs.
Now for the picks:
Saturday, Jan. 7
No. 5 Oakland (12-4) at No. 4 Houston (9-7)
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN)
Who starts at quarterback for these two teams? Both have major issues -- no matter who starts. Matt McGloin suffered a shoulder injury last week for Oakland, which could lead to Connor Cook making his first NFL start for the Raiders. For the Texans, Tom Savage suffered a concussion last Sunday, which puts his availability in question. It looks like it could mean Brock Osweiler plays. No matter who plays quarterback for these teams, this game will be about the defenses. The Texans are better on defense and that will be the difference in this game. It will be ugly, but the Texans will move on. It's a shame Derek Carr got hurt or the Raiders could have pushed for so much more.
Pick: Texans 20, Raiders 13
No. 6 Detroit (9-7) at No. 3 Seattle (10-5-1)
TV:8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)
This is a tough turnaround for the Lions after losing to the Packers and now facing a trip West to a tough spot to play. The Seahawks haven't been as good as in years past, but that defense finished second in the league in points and remains a force. That will put a lot of pressure on Matthew Stafford to make plays in the passing game. The Lions lost 13-10 here in 2015, so they did a nice job on defense. If their front can get after Russell Wilson here, and they haven't been great rushing the passer, they could keep this low scoring. In the end, Wilson will make the plays to pull it out for Seattle. They advance.
Pick: Seahawks 21, Lions 17
Sunday, Jan. 8
No. 6 Miami (10-6) at No. 3 Pittsburgh (11-5)
TV: 1:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Dolphins blew out the Steelers in Miami in October behind the running of Jay Ajayi. This is a much different Steelers team and they are at home. They have made big strides on defense since that game, finished 12th in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. A lot of young defenders have improved in a big way. The Dolphins finished 29th in total yards on defense and 18th in scoring. That has to be a good thing for Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. I look for those three to all have big games here. The Dolphins, with Matt Moore at quarterback, won't be able to keep up. Steelers take it.
Pick: Steelers 27, Dolphins 14
No. 5 N.Y. Giants (11-5) at No. 4 Green Bay (10-6)
TV:4:40 p.m. ET (Fox)
This is the game of the week. The Giants have won their last two playoff games at Lambeau Field on their way to winning a Super Bowl. So quarterback Eli Manning knows what it takes to win in this venue against a good team. The Giants, who lost to the Packers earlier this season, have the second-ranked scoring defense in the league, so they will make it tough on a hot Aaron Rodgers. But I think the way Rodgers is playing, he will get his yards and will throw a couple of touchdown passes. The key will be whether Manning can keep up. I think he can for a while, but in the end Rodgers will pull out a close one with a drive to a game-winning field goal in a playoff classic.
Pick: Packers 24, Giants 21
Prisco's season totals: 161-93-2 straight up, 120-125-11 against the spread