PFF Playoff Pick'em: Wild Card Round
It’s playoff time and our Pick’em gang is back at it. From here on, though, they’ll be offering a thought to accompany each pick, making it clear exactly how brilliant (or shaky) their methods are.
The near 80% on consensus pics they posted during the regular season won’t come into play here as not a single Wild Card Weekend game has pulled all eight of our guys in one direction.
Khaled being our regular season picking champ, perhaps he’s the one to watch, but we’re interested to hear… who’ve you got and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts
Ben – The Colts have played above their level in big games all season and after a comfortable victory over the Jaguars last week will be riding confidently into the playoffs. There’s only big games left now and having beaten the Chiefs in Kansas City recently they’ll have some psychological advantage to go with their home field advantage.
Gordon – Both teams who flattered to deceive at times during the 2013 season, but both teams who were locked into the playoffs fairly early on. The Colts ability to elevate their performance in big games make me give them the edge in this one but, after doubting the Chiefs all year I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they proved me wrong once again.
Khaled – Sure the Colts beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead but that was as sloppy as KC has been all year. They’ll make sure they don’t hand Indy the initiative this time.
Nathan – While the Colts won the first match-up just over a week ago, I don’t see the turnover battle being so lopsided again. Andrew Luck was more accurate than he usually is, and Alex Smith was less. I expect both to play more like they usually do.
Neil – The Colts can win but it will need a more “Luck-like” performance than we’ve seen this year. It’s unlikely they’ll get much by way of ground yardage so taking advantage of a late season decline by the KC corners is the way forward.
Rick – I feel like I’ve had the Colts backwards all year. So, despite my initial thought being the Chiefs go to Indy and get something of a methodical win, I’m changing up and going with the voice telling me this will be the one where Luck lights things up.
Sam – The Chiefs have been keeping their powder dry over the past couple of weeks, but they finished the season with the worst record ever for a team that started 9-0, and with the Colts at home I just don’t have huge confidence in their ability to get it done on the road.
Steve – This should be a good game between two teams that appear to be headed in different directions, but I think the Chiefs get back to their first half form to pull out the victory. Their defensive line and outside linbackers should give the Colts’ offensive line some problems and they’ll get just enough pressure on Andrew Luck to win the game.
New Orleans Saints @ Philadelphia Eagles
Ben – Picking against Drew Brees took some doing from me and I wouldn’t count him out, but I just can’t get out of my mind just how bad the Saints have been on the road for most of this season. The Eagles are clicking on offense and with the form that their offensive line is in I think they’ll be able to neutralize the Saints up front to lay the foundations for the likes of McCoy to win the game in space whether Brees and the offense hit form or not.
Gordon – On paper this promises to be a high-scoring, big-play affair, with both quarterbacks combining for 29 touchdowns on passes 20 yards or more downfield in 2013. Part of me worries that inexperience may get the better of the Eagles but I just don’t trust the Saints on the road, so I’m going for Chip Kelly celebrating a playoff victory in his first year in Philadelphia.
Khaled – In a shootout you go with the team that has the most firepower. That means placing my trust in Drew Brees and not Nick Foles when it counts.
Nathan – The Saints play much better at home than on the road which makes it hard for me to like them against a hot Eagles team. Trent Cole against Terron Armstead is one Philadelphia should be able to take advantage of.
Neil – My pre-season Super Bowl pick, New Orleans, has looked much less than stellar away from home and that’s why I’m going Philly. In the Superdome this could get ugly in the Saints favor but I see Chip Kelly’s all-round offense as being just good enough to see them through in a squeaker.
Rick – The Saints’ road flops are enough for me to make this a relatively easy call. Firepower for sure, but having so much trouble traveling and going to see a team that has kicked into gear like the Eagles tells me not to overthink it and move on to the next pick.
Sam – This should be a close game but another where I think the home field is a big advantage. The Saints haven’t performed well on the road in a long time while the Eagles have the set-up to grind this game out. We likely know what we’re going to get from Brees, but I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop with Nick Foles. This would be a bad time for it to happen.
Steve – The Saints haven’t been the same team away from the dome and the Eagles offense will challenge the Saints’ ability to tackle in space. On the other side of the ball, it’s always interesting to see how teams try to cover tight end Jimmy Graham, I expect Mychal Kendricks to have a big role there. It’s hard to bet against Drew Brees, but the Eagles’ offense will be too much to handle at home.
San Diego Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Ben – Is Andy Dalton going to do a Joe Flacco/Eli Manning and elevate himself to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback after failing to find consistency so far in his career? I have my doubts and by the track record of his career he is overdue a shocking display (four straight solid or excellent efforts, just about the longest streak of his career), but I think he and the Bengals will have too much on offense for the Chargers who have done brilliantly to sneak into the playoffs through the backdoor.
Gordon – It’s hard to look past the fact that the Chargers needed a missed field goal to get past a Chiefs team which rested several key players and still almost ended San Diego’s season last Sunday. They’ve been billed as a team that you don’t want to face but face a tough challenge of their own going into Cincinnati where the Bengals haven’t lost all year. I think Andy Dalton has his best postseason game for the Bengals yet, which wouldn’t be difficult, and the Bengals move on to Denver or New England.
Khaled – That Chargers team shouldn’t even have beat a reserve Kansas City side so how can they contend with Cincinnati? The only hope for Philip Rivers & Co. is Andy Dalton flops with all eyes on him.
Nathan – The Bengals were able to win this game in San Diego despite Andy Dalton having his worst game since the Cincinnati bye week. While Philip Rivers is still playing well, he has declined somewhat since the first half of the season. This should be a decisive Bengals victory.
Neil – Only an Andy Dalton horror show can stop Cincy here. This is by far the easiest game of the week to predict and too good an opportunity to get the playoff jinx off Cincinnati’s back to miss.
Rick – If I’m going to give in to one gut call in this round, this is it. Something about San Diego’s fortunate way in has to be feeding an ‘it’s meant to be’ mindset and in a matchup that I don’t see heavily leaning the other way, I like the team that feels they’ve got that intangible fueling them.
Sam – If I was asked which was the better side I think this game would be pretty much a coin flip. The Bengals began with the better roster but injuries have chipped away at it over the season and now it’s close. Rivers has been reborn this season while Dalton remains Dalton. I think this is a very close game so I’m leaning towards the home side.
Steve – Andy Dalton and the Bengals are looking to get over the first-round playoff hump, and it’s time to see if Dalton can play well for an extended playoff push. It’s a fascinating matchup as the Bengals are the more talented team, but Phillip Rivers was one of the best quarterbacks in the league this season. He has a really good chance to carry San Diego to the upset, but the Bengals will pull it off in perhaps the closest game of the weekend.
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
Ben – Now that the Packers are in the playoffs and Aaron Rodgers is back on board, they’re are a dangerous dark horse — especially at home — but I just think the 49ers are rounding nicely into some good form and will have too much all-round for the Packers. They have a good recent track record against the Packers at Candlestick Park and I don’t think that matchup or form will prove to be any different at Lambeau Field.
Gordon – I love when you get a playoff rematch the very next year, allowing a team to avenge their final loss of the previous year. Were it Matt Flynn at quarterback for the Packers it’d be a different story, but with Rodgers back in the lineup and the game being played in Green Bay, I think the Packers avenge last season’s loss and move on, providing nobody tries to do an Erik Walden impression when Kaepernick uses his legs.
Khaled – Who will be this years Erik Walden for the Packers? With no Clay Matthews you wonder just how they intend on making like difficult for Colin Kaepernick.
Nathan – The Packers’ defense has allowed 26 or more points in nine of their last 10 games. The 49ers have not allowed more than 24 points in each of their last 13 games. The difference in the two defenses could be too much for Green Bay to overcome.
Neil – I’m going for the same result as last year. The Bears game was great but luckily for the Packers that team had a sieve-like D. No such luck this time out and they’ll need to hope Kaepernick lays the egg he’s been threatening all year but just about held off.
Rick – Don’t see the road trip, the weather, or Rodgers’ return being the undoing for SF quite yet — I think they’ve got a longer road ahead and are built to grind this time of year. They may have to sneak out of it with a close one, but they find a way to get the ‘W’.
Sam – If it wasn’t for Aaron Rodgers I don’t think this would even be a discussion, even given the venue. The 49ers are a much better side, and seem to be finding a knack of making plays at the right time now. The Pack are a mess at the moment but Aaron Rodgers remains one of the few QBs in the game capable of making magic happen almost all by himself. Eddie Lacy also adds a running dimension they haven’t really had in a long time.
Steve – With Aaron Rodgers back at the helm, it’s tough to bet against my original Super Bowl pick. Keep an eye on the Packers’ wide receivers going up against the 49ers’ secondary as a flawed Packers team will have to rely on Rodgers more than ever.