The Red Shamrock: Surveying The Weekend Wild Card Matchups Plus Picks
Well, the 2016 NFL regular season is finally over. The dust has settled and our playoff seeds are locked in with four games scheduled for the weekend, starting Saturday afternoon. Before we preview the matchups, let’s see how well I did predicting the 12 teams that would make up this year’s playoffs (see my AFC playoff speculations and NFC playoff speculations).
Nobody told us there would be additional reading
For those of you too lazy to go back and read, here were my selections for the NFC (with the actual teams to follow):
The Red Shamrock’s Pick Actual Seed
1 – Dallas 1 – Dallas
2 – Seattle 2 – Atlanta
3 – Atlanta 3 – Seattle
4 – Detroit 4 – Green Bay
5 – Washington 5 – New York Giants
6 – Tampa Bay 6 – Detroit
Putting this here to distract from getting four teams right but the seeding a tad off
We missed on Detroit winning the division (their collapse at Dallas pretty much foreshadowed them limping into the playoffs), Tampa Bay collapsing and Washington choking against the Giants. Green Bay being carried by Aaron Rodgers and Atlanta staying hot while Seattle’s offensive line doomed them to the three seed.
And this is what was predicted for the AFC:
The Red Shamrock’s Pick Actual Seed
1 – New England 1 – New England
2 – Oakland 2 – Kansas City
3 – Pittsburgh 3 – Pittsburgh
4 – Tennessee 4 – Houston
5 – Kansas City 5 – Oakland
6 – Miami 6 – Miami
We missed on Oakland thanks to David Carr getting his leg crushed. Ditto for Marcus Mariota and Tennessee, which lead to Kansas City and Oakland, swapping places. Bill O’Brien stuck a stake in Brock Osweiler against the Jags, only to have to put him back in as the starter after Tom Savage’s head was scrambled against the Bengals.
More distractions from the failures of The Red Shamrock
All in all, not bad really, however, the injuries to Carr in Oakland and Tannehill for Miami lead to some potentially poor Wild Card weekend matchups. You may look at these matchups and think that they play themselves out, but I have a nugget or two that might change your mind. As a reminder, the one and two seeds in each conference will face the winners of these Wild Card games (with the lowest remaining seeds left over from those games taking on the one seed and the remaining higher seed taking on the two seeds).
Bob Ross might agree that there is room for at least one upset this Wild Card Weekend
AFC (5) Oakland @ (4) HOUSTON (-3.5), Saturday, January 7th, 4:35 PM ESPN
This one hurts a little bit. My fantasy quarterback man crush Derek Carr was having himself a hell of season until an injury to a finger on his throwing hand and then a broken leg against the Colts two weeks ago. This led to Matt McGloin getting his first start in four years against the Broncos who blew out his shoulder which now places fourth-round pick Connor Cook in as the starter on Saturday against Houston. If I were to give you the question of who is the only rookie quarterback to ever start his first game in a playoff game and you answered Connor Cook, you would kill it on Jeopardy.
No, it’s not the second coming of Andy Dalton; it’s the first rookie NFL QB to make his first start in a playoff game
And the Texans have their own quarterback problems as well. Brock Osweiler was pulled for Tom Savage and then rose from the dead like the vampire that he is to become the default starter after a concussion to Savage. You can’t make this stuff up. How much faith do the oddsmakers in Vegas have in setting a line on this game? The over/under is 36.5, which is the lowest total of any NFL game this year. It’s Cook v Osweiler to kick-off Wild Card Weekend! You can hear ESPN scream with excitement on Saturday, can’t you?
Somebody has to win though, right? It certainly won’t be the fans. I guess we have to give the edge in QB to the Texans, edge in defense to the Texans (they held Oakland to 30 yards on 20 attempts in their November loss at home to the Raiders) and the Raiders defense has not been the thing keeping them in games this season (Lamar Miller, who will be active, ran for 104 yards and a touchdown in that Texans loss). When push comes to shove, you have to go with the home field advantage, Texans D, Texans run game and Turnover Twilight against Sparty (sorry Mandy).
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Texans (-3.5)
NFC (6) Detroit @ (3) SEATTLE(-8), Saturday, January 7th, 8:15 PM NBC
When you watch Seattle play on the road this season (3-4-1), do you think to yourself that they are a Super Bowl contender? They can’t be good right? Surprisingly, they finished 10-5-1 in a bad NFC West this year thanks to their 7-1 home record (one of four playoff teams to go 7-1 at home this year; Houston, Dallas and the Giants were the others). Things seem to have broken the Seahawks way for this matchup. Detroit are losers of three straight, have lost eight straight playoff games since 1992 and Seattle’s playoff opponents at CenturyLink are 0-8 since 2006. Plus, Richard Sherman has to be up there with the ugliest athlete in the Nation since Sam Cassell.
Is this man the ugliest athlete in the United States now? You decide!
Detroit is also a 30-minute football team. They don’t like to play in the second half, averaging less than four points in the second half during their current three game slide (highlighted by the collapse against the Cowboys). You have to have a hot hand headed to the playoffs and Matt Stafford can only carry the Lions so far. Look for a blowout in Seattle this weekend with everyone jumping on the Seahawk bandwagon after defeating a limping Lion’s team.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Seahawks (-8)
AFC (6) Miami (+10) @ (3) PITTSBURGH, Sunday, January 8th, 1:05 PM CBS
In week six this season, the Steelers were 8.5 point favorites over Miami in Miami. Thanks to an offensive line that had all of its starters for the first time that season, Jay Ajayi had his coming out party and the Dolphin’s defense knocked out “Big Ben” on their way to a 30 – 15 win. The Miami defense also held Antonio Brown to 39 yards receiving.
Both teams have been on winning streaks to lockdown their playoff positions. Everyone will point to the Dolphins loss to New England (35 – 14) as a sign of bad things to come, but Miami was still in the game at the halfway point of the fourth quarter until a costly turnover by Damien Williams sealed their fate (which would have knocked the Patriots lead down to seven). The Steelers are coming off their backups needing overtime to dispatch the Browns.
Don’t get me wrong here. Miami’s defense can be exploited in the middle (as shown over the last four games) but Pittsburgh hasn’t been world-beaters on defense either. 10 points just feels like an awful lot of points to lay if you are the home team (remember we are wagering with the spread). Plus, there is a reason they have kept Matt Moore as the backup in Miami for so long. They don’t lose much with him in there, and I think this game will be closer than people think.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Dolphins (+10)
The Red Shamrock is terrified for his Dolphins, so looks for comfort from past Miami Dolphins Cheerleader Samantha
NFC (5) New York Giants @ (4) Green Bay (-4.5), Sunday, January 8th, 4:40 PM FOX
Favorite obscure stat of the week: The Giants are 2-0 the last two times they have gone to Lambeau Field for the playoffs and won the Super Bowl in those two seasons.
Giants fans may be rejoicing over their matchup as it may lead to a sign of good things to come
It won’t be easy for the Giants. In the Packers current six game win streak, Aaron Rodgers has 18 TDs and 0 interceptions. New York is 1-2 in their last three road games. Plus the Packer’s offense in the last six games is heads and shoulders above Philly, Pittsburgh and Washington. I think home field advantage and a hot Rodgers puts an end to Playoff Monster Eli this season. It’s as simple as that.
The Red Shamrock’s Pick: Packers (-4.5)
The Red Shamrock thinks the Giants will spend the rest of season watching games after their matchup with Green Bay
To wrap it all up until next week (Home teams in CAPS):
Last week: 6 – 10
2016 Regular season record: 126 – 119 – 11 (.512)
Pat Himes aka The Red Shamrock is a huge fan of sports, movies, poker, and fake sports betting. He is also cohost of The 80/20 Movie Show podcast with Gary Smith, which you can listen to for guy humor, movie reviews, and additional fake sports betting picks at www.fatherhoodrules.com. You can interact with Pat on Chaostrophic by hitting him up on the comments section with him on the threads under his handle, Dalux247.