It game down to the final games, and in some the final minutes, of the 2013 NFL season to decide most of this year’s playoff picture. All of the NFC playoff teams took care of their own business in week 17 and not a single team backed in. As for the AFC, in which five of the six playoff berths were already set prior to the final week, we saw the Chargers limp in with an overtime win and help from two other teams losing. Since the regular season is now officially in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for the NFL Playoffs with our Round 1 Free NFL Wildcard Picks, Expert Predictions and Point Spreads.
Round 1 Free NFL Wildcard Picks, Expert Predictions and Point Spreads
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts – Sat, Jan 4 4:35 PM EST – NBC
Point Spread: Colts -2
The K.C. Chiefs started out red hot, winning their first nine heading into their week 10 bye. After the break, it was a different story. Kansas City lost their first three (two to the Broncos) en route to a 2-5 finish. The Chiefs lost 23-7 in week 16 to the Colts, in Kansas City. Injuries, and reality, caught up with them.
The Colts are a hard-to-read team. They’ve beaten some other playoff teams such as Denver and San Fran, but they also finished with the only winning record in their division… in which they swept. Getting to play the Jaguars and Texans twice each helped them become the first division winner in 2013.
Since Andy Reid gave the Chiefs’ starters the day off last Sunday, the rest will do wonders, especially for the defense, who are the bread and butter of the team. K.C. wins on the road in a very low-scoring game… but neither of these teams will get out of the divisional round should they succeed this week.
Expert Pick: Kansas City Chiefs to win outright
New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles – Sat, Jan 4 8:10 PM EST – NBC
Point Spread: Eagles -2.5
Much is being said about the Saints, especially Drew Brees, on the road… and it should be said. The numbers speak for themselves. The Saints are 3-5 at home against their 8-0 home record. They have not scored over 17 points on the road since week 9, against the Jets, and that was 20 points in a loss. The Saints are 0-for-the-playoffs… ever, on the road.
The weather conditions in Philly Saturday night are predicted in the low-20s with some wind… not very desirable for a dome team. Drew Brees is lights-out at home, but downgrades to very good on the road. In that weather, he may be downgraded even lower, and there is no running game for the Saints to rely on.
Expert Pick: Philadelphia Eagles to win and cover
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals – Sun, Jan 5 1:05 PM EST – CBS
Point Spread: Bengals -7
As we mentioned, the Chargers took two back doors into the playoffs. They were consistently inconsistent for most of the season, but finished strong going 5-1 to close out the regular season. That final run included wins against the Broncos and two against the Chiefs. The offense is on fire post 26 or better in each of those final wins, and dropping 41 on the Chiefs IN Kansas City.
On the other side of the ball, the Bengals have been playing lights out football at home all season long, not losing a single home game in 2013. They scored in the 40’s twice at home in December, and two other times earlier in the season. The Chargers defense will have no answer for the Bengals offense.
Expert Pick: Cincinnati Bengals to win and cover
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers – Sun, Jan 5 4:40 PM EST – FOX
Point Spread: Niners -3
Losing Aaron Rodgers for half the season would normally signal doom for the Green Bay Packers. And it kind of did if it were not for the Bears and Lions wanting to slit their own throats more. The Pack went 2-5-1 sans Rodgers, but enough success early in the year led them to an NFC North title. The Packers put up 30-spots in each of their last three games.
The Niners came into the 2013 NFL season as the sexy pick team. A 1-3 start put a quick end to that. It slowly built back up over the remainder of the season and they closed out the season going perfect in December’s five games.
This is going to be a tight game in some subzero temps. Look for both ground games to be used en mass. Eddie Lacy has carried the Packers on his back in Aaron Rodger’s absence and he will be a thorn in the side of the Niners. We’re only going as far as saying to take the Packers with the points in this game.
Expert Pick: Green Bay +3
Enjoy the 2013 NFL playoffs and our Round 1 Free NFL Wildcard Picks, Expert Predictions and Point Spreads. Feel free to enter and discuss your own in the comments section.