So long regular season, now it’s time to crown an NFL champion. We’re no longer in week-to-week mode as the pressure is ratcheted up and every play, every yard and every moment counts extra.
Note: All times are ET.
Here are NFL picks against the spread for Wild Card Weekend:
Saturday, Jan. 4
Buffalo Bills (10-6) at Houston Texans (10-6), 4:35 p.m. ET
Nobody has played up or down to their level of competition than these two teams so fittingly they meet on Wild Card Weekend in what seems like Houston’s designated spot in the early Saturday window. Both teams will want to control the tempo in this one and it goes without saying that turnovers will prove critical. Lots of money is coming in on the Bills but you can’t pass up Deshaun Watson and company getting less than a field goal at home. The Pick: Texans -2.5
Tennessee Titans (9-7) at New England Patriots (12-4), 8:15 p.m. ET on Saturday
The final week of the regular season really altered the perception of this game as the Pats inexplicably blew home-field advantage with a loss to the Dolphins while the Titans continued their hot run. This is definitely a tough draw given how well Tennessee has played since Ryan Tannehill took over and that’s not even getting into league rushing champ Derrick Henry. For all the woes about Tom Brady and the offense though, they always seem to step it up when things matter most and Bill Belichick at home in these situations has almost always come through. It’s not completely convincing but Foxboro this time of year has not been kind to the underdogs coming in. The Pick: Patriots -4.5
Sunday, Jan. 5
Minnesota Vikings (10-6) at New Orleans (13-3), 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday
The Vikings have the roster to make this one of the more interesting Wild Card games but they’ve been average on the road this year and the Superdome is one of the hardest places to play. Plus, let’s face it, the Kirk Cousins in a big moment factor is always going to be there until he wins the big game. New Orleans is hitting their stride at the right time in all phases and they’ll want to eliminate the taste from the last playoff game in the dome. The Pick: Over 48.5, Saints ML
Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-7), 4:40 p.m. ET on Sunday
It has to be terribly hard for Seattle to try and recover from the ending of that 49ers game that cost the Seahawks the division and then fly across the country to get up for a playoff game. If anybody can do it though, it’s this squad, which is 7-1 on the road and actually seems to play better away from Seattle. Philly gets props for winning the NFC East but the fact that the Eagles are down so many key players has to push you into taking the visitors. The Pick: Seahawks -2
Week 16: 4-0
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.