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NFL Wild Card Weekend preview: Picks for each game as postseason commences

The Colts visit the Texans in Saturday's opener, which features two of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Andrew Luck has led the Colts to nine

Andrew Luck has led the Colts to nine wins in their last 10 games after a 1-5 start to the season. Photo Credit: Lee S. Weissman/Lee S. Weissman

New Yorkers have known for weeks — and been pretty sure for months — that they wouldn't have a dog in the NFL postseason race once again. Both the Giants and Jets were crummy for a second year in a row.

Let's face it, though. Playoff football is playoff football, and it's compelling sports viewing even without a rooting interest. This Wild Card Weekend brings a quartet of interesting matchups. Here's a brief look at each, with predictions for who advances to play again next weekend.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (4:35 p.m. Sat.)

The too hottest teams competing this weekend happen to be AFC South rivals, and only one gets to play again next week. Host Houston (11-5) lost just two more games after an 0-3 start, while Indianapolis (10-6) recovered from a woeful 1-5 start to win nine of the last 10 games. The Colts' run includes a Dec. 9 victory the last time it visited Houston

Playmakers abound on both offenses, including at the quarterback position. The Colts' Andrew Luck has six postseason games under his belt, while Deshaun Watson of the Texans led Clemson to a national championship almost exactly two years ago. Neither will be intimidated by the stage.

Division rivals in the playoffs often make for close contests, and this should be no different. But with home field, Houston will get it done.

Pick: Texans

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (8:15 p.m. Sat.)

Dallas is unpredictable. While they've won seven of their last nine and been more effective on offense after acquiring receiver Amari Cooper, the Cowboys (10-6) bombed against the Colts in a 23-0 shutout just two weeks after edging the NFC's top seed, the New Orleans Saints.

Seattle (10-6) took the lone regular season meeting between the two on their home field, but they will be forced to contend with a Dallas team that lost just once in Big D. Still, the presence of Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson is a better trump card than his Cowboys counterpart, Dak Prescott.

Again, anything can happen Dallas, but they're in good position to roll past the solid if unspectacular Seahawks.

Pick: Cowboys

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (1:05 p.m. Sun.)

It hardly matters that the Chargers (12-4) must play away from Los Angeles despite a better record than Baltimore (10-6). Most weeks, opposing fans match or exceed the home team's turnout. Heck, they went 7-1 on the road and 5-3 in L.A.

But the Ravens are a different team with rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, who went 6-1 down the stretch, leading the way than they were with Joe Flacco under center. They even topped the Chargers as visitors just two weeks ago.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers will have to play like he did most of the season — 31 touchdowns and eight INTs over the first 14 games — than the final two in which he tossed only one touchdown and had four picks. Look for him to bounce back with another victory away from Southern California.

Pick: Chargers

Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears (4:40 p.m. Sun.)

Although Philly enters as defending Super Bowl champions, they needed a Chicago win over the Minnesota Vikings to help them reach the postseason. Now, the Eagles (9-7) head for the Windy City needing to overcome the vaunted Bears (12-4) defense.

The Bears' D, spearheaded by late summer acquisition Khalil Mack, is the engine driving this team, but they possess enough horsepower on offense to keep opponents on their toes. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky sprinkled in big games throughout the year, and versatile running back Tarik Cohen can give defenses fits.

One cannot rule out "Saint" Nick Foles, the championship-winning backup quarterback of a year ago, pulling off more postseason magic. But, realistically, this shouldn't be a very close game as the home team advances.

Pick: Bears


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