#5 Oakland Raiders at #4 Houston Texans
Saturday (1/7): 4:35 ET
With Brock Osweiler and Connor Cook starting for their respective teams, this game feels more like a Jiffy Lube Bowl game than a playoff matchup. Thanks to injuries to Derek Carr and Tom Savage, this game has completely lost its luster. Expect a low scoring game with a lot of turnovers. The Texans should take this if they play tough defense and run the ball, while the Raiders can only hope Cook takes advantage of wideout weapons in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. As depressing as this game will be for those watching, no one will be sadder than ESPN. The sports enterprise pays $100 million annually to broadcast a single wild card playoff game, and this Raiders-Texans snoozefest is the one they will be airing.
Prediction: 13-10 Texans
#6 Detroit Lions at #3 Seattle Seahawks
Saturday (1/7): 7:15 ET
Seattle hasn’t looked the same since losing safety Earl Thomas for the season. They let San Francisco compete with them last week and face a dangerous Detroit Lions team. Matt Stafford has looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season, despite losing the NFC North title last week to Green Bay. Their run game has improved as the season has worn on, but Stafford’s injured finger and Seattle’s home crowd will give the Seahawks the necessary edge. Relying on their stout defense and quarterback Russell Wilson, Seattle will advance to the divisional round.
Prediction: 17-14 Seahawks
#6 Miami Dolphins at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday (1/8): 1:05 ET
These two teams are trending in opposite directions. Last week, Miami was crushed by New England while the Steelers rested their stars and still edged a victory out against the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh comes in with their trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown healthy and ready to go. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have announced Matt Moore will be under center with QB Ryan Tannehill still out with a knee injury. If Miami wants to win, the defense will have to come up big and grind the clock with running back Jay Ajayi. It’s too tall of a task with the way Pittsburgh is playing, as the Ben-Bell-Brown trio will be too much for an overmatched Dolphins squad.
Prediction: 31-17 Steelers
#5 New York Giants at #4 Green Bay Packers
Sunday (1/8): 4:40 ET
In what is arguably the most exciting game of the weekend, the explosive Giants travel to Lambeau Field to take on the red-hot Packers. Aaron Rodgers has been a lights out MVP candidate as of late, leading his team to the NFC North title. On the other side, the Giants failed to win the East, but are still a dangerous team. With an immensely improved defense and OBJ on offense, the Giants could easily pull off an upset. However, predicting a Rodgers loss on his home field is never a smart call.
Prediction: 21-20 Packers
Image Sources: Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports, Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports, Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports, Dan Powers/USA TODAY Sports, New York Daily News