The Wild Card round of the postseason did not disappoint despite many questioning the level of competition. The Jacksonville Jaguars put together a historical comeback against the Los Angeles Chargers and despite being without their starting quarterback the Miami Dolphins held their own against the star-studded Buffalo Bills. Nothing is certain come playoff time, here are my picks heading into the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Best Pick: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Dallas Cowboys easily took care of business against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend despite their kickers woes and Tom Brady’s best efforts to show off his side-tackling skills. They will be hosted this week by the NFC Super Bowl favorite San Francisco 49ers who are coming off their own dominant victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The matchup represents the closest point-spread of the weekend as two of the best defenses in the league go to head-to-head against two top-10 offenses.
Brock Purdy continues to stay relevant as he continues his undefeated campaign against what could be his toughest opponent yet. Dallas currently ranks as the sixth-best overall defense and just held Brady to just 14-points last weekend. The future Hall-of-Fame QB only managed a 72.2 rating against the likes of Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons while also getting sacked twice and intercepted once by Jayron Kearse. They will have their hands full defending against the newly-united duo of Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel who together combined for 281 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
Peyton Manning is all of us to Brett Maher RN pic.twitter.com/LedZvDLESq— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) January 17, 2023
My pick: Take the 49ers to cover the spread and take the victory. It may be coincidence or it could be Vegas trolling the Cowboys, but the current spread represents the same amount of extra points missed by Brett Maher last weekend.
Biggest Upset: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants
The New York Giants will take on a familiar NFC East foe in a Philadelphia Eagles team that will be rested after a well-deserved first seed bye week. In the Wild Card round New York defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a 31-24 upset. Daniel Jones diced up the Vikings 28th ranked defense with 301 yards through the air and was also the teams leading rusher with 78 yards on 17 attempts. Saquon Barkley looked dangerous while gashing the opposition for 109 all purpose yards and two touchdowns. The defensive unit looked much better than its 18th overall ranking. They held Justin Jefferson to just 47 yards receiving and kept Dalvin Cook in check to just 60 yards rushing.
Jalen Hurts had the best QBR in football this year vs Cover 1--in part because he killed teams with go balls to AJ Brown and Devonta Smith.— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) January 18, 2023
The Giants played a lot of cover 1 in week 14 and got punished for it. pic.twitter.com/EfQJSR8tbC
Lining up across the field from them is a team that went 2-0 against the Giants during the regular season with their first matchup turning into a 48-22 blowout in Week 14. Their second meeting in Week 18 might as well be scratched off the record with New York resting most of their starters heading into the playoffs. Philadelphia has looked like the best team in the league during the regular season going undefeated for eight weeks before loosing to the Washington Commanders in Week 10. Jalen Hurts has put together a MVP season even after missing some games due to injury. Their offense has been deadly, ranking second only behind the Kansas City Chiefs which is complimented by a top-10 defense.
My pick: It is hard to beat a team three times in a season and the Giants looked formidable against the Viking last weekend. With it being a divisional rivalry the game could get ugly, but I think it will be New York coming out of the scrap to complete their second upset in two weeks.