Wild-card weekend of the NFL playoffs was, well, pretty lame. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of the Texans, Steelers, Seahawks or Packers.
New York’s lone representatives, the Giants, suffered a crushing 38-13 loss in Green Bay. Football fans without a horse in the race didn’t have much to enjoy in the other three games, none of which were decided by less than 13 points.
With any luck, the divisional round games Saturday and Sunday will make for a better viewing experience, objectively.
Read on for amNewYork’s picks to win the four matchups and set up the conference championship games next weekend.
(3) Seahawks at (2) Falcons
4:35 p.m. Saturday on Fox/5
Atlanta earned the home-field edge after going 11-5 against a relatively soft schedule. But it was Seattle who rallied in the fourth quarter to win when these teams faced off in October.
When MVP candidate Matt Ryan is clicking with Julio Jones, they’re arguably the best QB-WR tandem in the league. Richard Sherman and the Seahawks’ secondary aren’t likely to be intimidated, though.
The Falcons, the NFC South champs, weren’t strong against the run during the regular season, which bodes well for Seattle running back Thomas Rawls after he torched the Lions last week.
Pick: Seahawks 28, Falcons 20
(4) Texans at (1) Patriots
8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS/2
Few are giving Houston a chance, least of all oddsmakers who have the point spread in the mid teens.
Hard to blame them. Tom Brady, one of the greatest postseason quarterbacks ever, gets to play at home after a week of rest that followed an impressive regular season. He wasn’t even beaten down by the 16-game grind thanks to his season-opening four-game suspension.
The Texans looked good against a Raiders team down to its third-string quarterback, but they’re not at the Pats’ level. Brady will advance to his 11th AFC title game.
Pick: Patriots 34, Texans 17
(3) Steelers at (2) Chiefs
1:05 p.m. Sunday on NBC/4
The other AFC matchup is more compelling by default, despite Pittsburgh’s 43-14 blowout victory at home against Kansas City in October.
That said, the Steelers do have momentum on their side in the form of an eight-game winning streak heading into the game in K.C. Their vaunted offense, led by Ben Roethlisberger, should be more than the Chiefs solid defense can handle yet again.
The AFC West champs just don’t have an answer for Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess. Expect the visitors to steal one on the road.
Pick: Steelers 31, Chiefs 21
(4) Packers at (1) Cowboys
4:40 p.m. Sunday on Fox/5
Could another classic postseason matchup between two of the most successful franchises in sports be in the cards? Quite possibly.
Green Bay enters Dallas on a seven-game win streak, with Aaron Rodgers playing better than any passer in football at the moment.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ surprising run to the top NFC seed has been fueled by stud rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. How well they adapt to the heightened stakes of the playoffs is intrinsic to their chances to advance.
The edge has to go to Rodgers, whose resume includes a Super Bowl victory, and his veteran team.
Pick: Packers 30, Cowboys 27