NFL

NFL Wildcard Round Playoff Picks- NFC

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It was an up and down season predicting games and divisions, but alas the postseason is finally here.  We have four games this weekend and the goal is to get every single one right.  We’ll see how far short we fall.

Seattle vs. Minnesota

The beginning of the Seahawks defense of their two-time NFC Champion crown starts in frigid Minnesota.  Adrian Peterson, the greatest running back of this generation, has a 1-3 record in the playoffs and his lone playoff victory came with Brett Favre at quarterback for the Vikes.

The obvious: It will be cold and both teams would like to establish the run.  Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch are two of the very best running backs in the business.

The less obvious:  Peterson has struggled (for him) down the stretch as teams have keyed on stopping the 6-foot-1, 225 pound monster.  AD has averaged just 64.2 yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry over the team’s final five games, with two of those coming against sub-.500 foes like the New York Giants and Chicago Bears.

Doug Baldwin has turned into a star (even if nobody realizes he is).  Baldwin finished tied for the NFL lead in touchdown receptions (with Brandon Marshall and Allen Robinson), and he’s the most productive slot receiver in the NFL.

A reason why Baldwin has been so productive is the accuracy of quarterback Russell Wilson.  RW3 has taken his game to a new level- an MVP level- leading the NFL in quarterback rating (110.1) and throwing for over 4,000 yards with 34 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.

What we think will happen: The Seahawks came into Minnesota five weeks ago and pounded the Vikings, 38-7.  It should be a little closer this time around as the Vikings are healthier and the weather might make catching the football a more difficult task.

Seattle has positive postseason experience, and it’s tough, if not impossible to take Teddy Bridgewater, making his first playoff start, over a healthy Russell Wilson led Seahawks team.

Score prediction:  Seahawks 31, Vikings 17. 

Green Bay vs. Washington

To find the last postseason victory by the Washington Redskins you have to go back 10 years when they defeated the Tampa Bay Bucs in the playoffs (before losing to the Seattle Seahawks who would eventually get ripped off in the Super Bowl).

On the other sideline, the Green Bay Packers were preseason Super Bowl favorites after being a properly fielded onside kick away from going to Super Bowl XLIX a year ago.

These aren’t your slightly older cousin’s Packers and Redskins.

Green Bay has struggled in the passing game this season and Eddie Lacy has been a non-factor.  Kirk Cousins has jumped into stardom after leading the Redskins back from a 24-0 deficit in a 31-30 victory over Tampa Bay.

The obvious: Jay Gruden would like to run the football and take some pressure off Cousins, who is making his first start.

The less obvious: Aaron Rodgers, possibly the most talented passer of our time, directed the 23rd ranked offense in the NFL this year.  The receivers haven’t been able to separate consistently and the offensive line hasn’t held up their end of the bargain for Rodgers to be successful.

What we think will happen: If you’re having trouble throwing the football, the perfect medicine is the Redskins pass defense.  Washington finished 28th in the NFL in total defense, and 24th in pass defense.  If Randall Cobb, DeVante Adams and Richard Rogers can’t get open against these guys, they don’t belong in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins has been tremendous in the second half of the season, playing himself into a $20+ million/year extension whether he wins or loses this game.  The Packers have a mediocre defense and Cousins should play well again.

In what figures to be a shootout, Kirk Cousins is going to have to defeat Aaron Rodgers on the field before I’ll believe he can do it.

Score prediction:  Packers 38, Redskins 31. 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.