NFL Playoffs – Wildcard Round Picks

For Week 17 San Diego Sports Insider went a whopping 15-1. A lot of picks were geared towards the Chargers making the playoffs, so that definitely inflated my record. SD Sports Insider’s record now sits at 45-18 since week 14.

Now entering the playoffs, it is an entirely new season for every team. Throw away your records, throw away your stats, playoff football is a different game. As all these teams now sit at 0-0, so does SD Sports Insider’s record.

Kansas City at Indianapolis

At one point in the season the Chiefs were 9-0 and still competing for the AFC West. After some injuries and a defensive breakdown, the Chiefs dropped 5 of their last 7 games, including 3 at home. One of those games they lost at home was against the Indianapolis Colts where they got beat in convincing fashion, 23-7.  Quarterback Alex Smith has not put up jaw dropping numbers, but he has been consistent at protecting the football and making plays when he has to.

The Colts have been a competitive team with a winning record all season. They have come out flat a few games, but have mainly been pretty consistent. Andrew Luck is having an outstanding sophomore season cutting his interceptions in half (23 TDs 18 INTs in 2012; 23 TDs 9 INTs in 2013). The Colts have lost some firepower since losing Reggie Wayne, but have still been able to put up numbers. Indianapolis’ defense has also been playing well behind DE/OLB Robert Mathis who is having another strong season late in his career.

The fact that the Chiefs have been reeling in the second half of the season, and that the Colts are playing at home, makes it hard to pick against Luck in Indy.

Chiefs 17 Colts 21

San Francisco vs Green Bay

Colin Kaepernick had arguably the best game of the season verse the Packers in week 1. That was week 1. A lot has changed since then. The 49ers have had plenty of games where they looked slow on offense and could not put points on the board. They will have to rely heavily on their running game with Frank Gore.

Aaron Rodgers sat out for 7 games but was practicing the last 2 weeks. The way he came back and won that game against the Bears in week 17 tells me he is back to the same old Aaron Rodgers. I think their defense will play a key role in this limiting big plays from Kaepernick and the San Francisco Defense. Still, in Green Bay it is supposed to hit temperatures sub-zero. Rodgers at home in the cold sounds like the makings of a Packers’ win.

San Francisco 13 Green Bay 21

San Diego vs Cincinnati

Some may think that just because this is a San Diego sports blog that I am making this pick from the heart. That may have some validity, but I truly believe the Chargers have a chance in this. Sundays weather forecast in Cinci is supposed to be below freezing and a high chance of percipitation. This sunny San Diegan team may see some snow.

Ryan Mathews will be huge in this game. The Chargers need to establish the run as they have greatly in the second half of the season. Make the Bengals top-5 defense respect the run in order to set up the Play Action pass for Rivers. I believe Philip will do his part and play well in his first post season game in 4 years. Philip has played in 7 playoff games in his career and has thrown an interception in every game. That will be another key to this game. Back in week 13 the Chargers had 3 costly turnovers, 2 of which were in the redzone caused by an unlikely Antonio Gates. The Chargers will need to protect the ball to win this game.

Marvin Lewis has been with the Bengals for 10 season and has zero playoff wins to show for. This dates back to even when the Bengals had some great years with Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson in his prime. Does he get the first one on Sunday? Not if Andy Dalton has a bad game. The Bengals have a very good complete solid football team and will need to play mistake free to win this game. The Chargers have struggled all season to cause turnovers, yet have been in every game by one possession. If Andy Dalton throws a few picks, mark this up as a ‘W’ for the Bolt.

Chargers 23 Bengals 20

Saints vs Eagles

The Saints have never won a road playoff game in the history of the franchise. That includes a few great teams with Drew Brees in recent years. Can Brees finally get the monkey off his back and win on the road in the post season? It is definitely going to be difficult  as the Dome-Team will have to go out in the elements and play in a very cold Philadelphia. In these kind of games teams will have to rely heavily on their run game. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing this season and has had some pretty impressive games. One of his best games of the season was actually in the snow where he dominated for over 200 yards.

The Saints on the other hand do not really have a running game. They have 3 backs that are all good at what they do, but not one that has even 550 rushing yards. Pierre Thomas leads the team in rushing with 549 yards, but will not be playing Sunday. Mark Ingram has not been the Heisman Trophy first round pick the Saints thought they were getting, but they may need to rely on him this weekend. The third year player only managed 386 yards on the ground and 7 receptions, but did have an impressive 4.9 yards a carry. Maybe with Pierre Thomas out, Ingram can flourish in this feature back roll. They will still have Sproles to do what he does on third down and receiving out of the backfield.

I want to pick the Saints on this, but I am going to have to go with the Eagles and that running game. Saints defense is still not very good, especially run defense, and the Eagles offense has flourished under new Head Coach Chip Kelly.

Saints 27 Eagles 31

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