NFL Picks Week #18 (Wildcard Weekend) (2019 playoffs)

NFL PICKS (WEEK #18 - Wildcard Weekend)


University Professor. PhD in stats. Proud dad of 2 boys.


Hello NFL fans! We finished the 2018 regular season with a respectacle 26-21 record (55.3%). Not as good as last year where we went 36-23-3 (61.0%), but still a positive year!

It's time for serious business: the NFL playoffs! Let's analyze and pick each game right away!

PICK #1: Indianapolis Colts +2 at Houston Texans

To me, the difference comes from the offensive line. The Colts were the least sacked team (18 allowed), whereas the Texans were the most-sacked team (62 allowed). Despite having great pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, Houston finished 28th in terms of passing yards allowed per game. It will be difficult to stop Andrew Luck. In this year’s two meetings, Luck racked up an incredible 863 passing yards with 6 TDs and 1 int. I’m taking the Colts and the 2 points.

PICK #2: Seattle Seahawks +2.5 at Dallas Cowboys

The Seahawks recorded a point differential of +81 this season compared to +15 for the Cowboys. Granted, Dallas has been much better at home (7-1) than on the road (3-5).

However, I trust Russell Wilson and his receiving corps (Baldwin and Lockett) more than Prescott, Cooper and company.

Both teams are rushing the ball very well: Seattle finished atop of the league with 160.0 rushing yards per game, while Dallas finished in tenth place with 122.7 rushing yards per game.

I favor Dallas’ defense more, though: 6th in points allowed per game and 7th in yards allowed per game versus 11th and 16th place for Seattle.

Ultimately, I chose to go with Seattle because of coaching. In today’s NFL, you need to be aggressive. Most coaches of teams making the playoffs are not afraid to go for it on fourth down, or making gutsy calls (Sean McVay, Doug Pederson, Andy Reid, Bill Belichick). Historically speaking, Pete Carroll has been coaching much more fearlessly than Jason Garrett, who I don’t like so much as a game manager.

I’m going with Seattle +2.5.

PICK #3: Baltimore Ravens -2.5 vs Los Angeles Chargers

It’s really hard for a defense to practice and get adequate game planning against a team like the Ravens with Lamar Jackson running like crazy. Practicing against your own offense led by Philip Rivers is not the same.

Baltimore finished the season strong by winning six of their last seven games. The Chargers played well too, although they showed more signs of weakness, including a bad 22-10 beating at home against those same Ravens.

I expect a tight game with the Ravens’ defense making a key play to seal the deal late in the game.

PICK #4: Philadelphia Eagles +6.5 at Chicago Bears

Early in the week I was high on the Bears in this one. But as time went by, I changed my mind and I’m officially taking the Eagles.

Philly won five of their last six games to sneak in the playoffs. Their only loss came in overtime in Dallas. All Nick Foles did was beating the Rams in Los Angeles, the Texans at home and the Redskins 24-0 in Washington. I tip my hat off to him, what a smart quarterback he is.

The task won’t be easy against the stingy Bears’ defense, but I do believe the Eagles and their playoff experience will help them to at least keep the game close. Don’t get me wrong: I see Chicago as a serious Super Bowl contender, but I believe they will barely beat Philly in this one. Laying 6.5 points is way too much for my taste. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears win a thriller against the Eagles before making a run to the Super Bowl. The reigning Super Bowl champs won’t go down easily. I’m taking Philadelphia against the spread.

Have a nice weekend!

Professor MJ