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2023 NFL wild-card playoff picks: Tom Brady’s Buccaneers shock Cowboys, Jaguars upset Chargers


I heard a coughing sound over the weekend and since I used to be battling a chilly, I believed it was me, but because it seems, it was actually just the Packers choking away their shot at a playoff spot. 

To make the playoffs, all of the Packers needed to do was beat the Lions in the ultimate game of the 2022 regular season, but they couldn’t try this, which implies Aaron Rodgers will now be watching the playoffs from home… or from a South American ayahuasca farm. One or the opposite. 

With Week 18 within the books, which means it’s now time for the postseason, and up first, we’ve got the playoff round that I like to hate: The wild-card round. I like watching it, but I hate attempting to predict it, since it all the time gets crazy, and I’m not talking slightly crazy, I’m talking “orange is a sound, down is left, my milk is beginning to taste like peanuts” crazy.

Just to provide you an idea of how crazy things can get through the first weekend of the playoffs, just consider this: Underdogs have gone 16-8 against the spread since 2017, which clearly means I should take every underdog to cover this week, but in addition, perhaps I shouldn’t, because they went 1-5 last season.  

You may also throw home-field advantage out the window: Road teams are 11-9 straight-up within the wild-card round because the start of the 2018 season, which implies I should obviously pick a number of road teams to win this week, but in addition, perhaps I shouldn’t, because road teams went 1-5 last 12 months. 

And if that is not confusing enough, we could have as many as seven quarterbacks making their first profession playoff start, which is unquestionably not a very good thing. Since 2002, quarterbacks making their first profession playoff start within the wild-card round are 12-35 straight-up, including 1-4 last 12 months and that one win only happened because two first-time playoff starters were facing one another (Joe Burrow vs. Derek Carr). This 12 months, the 49ers, Seahawks, Jaguars, Chargers and Giants will all have a QB making his first profession playoff start. Also, the Ravens could possibly be added to that list if Lamar Jackson DOESN’T start and the Dolphins could possibly be added if Teddy Bridgewater DOESN’T start (Tua Tagovailoa and Skylar Thompson have never began a playoff game, but Bridgewater has).  

How a lot of these quarterbacks will I pick against? Let’s get to the picks and discover. 

Super Wild Card Weekend Picks

No. 7 Seattle (9-8) at No. 2 San Francisco (13-4)

Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)

Featured Game | San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

This game marks the third time this season that these two teams have played one another and after picking the 49ers to win in each of the primary two games, I even have to say, I have never seen anything that is going to alter my mind this time around. 

If the Seahawks have proven one thing this season, it’s that they will beat you in the event that they can run the ball, which actually could possibly be an issue on this game, since it’s almost unattainable to run the ball against San Francisco’s defense. The 49ers have only surrendered 77.7 rushing yards per game this 12 months, which is ranked first within the NFC and second within the NFL. To place that number in perspective, EVERY other team within the NFC gave up not less than 110 yards per game on the bottom in 2022. 

For the Seahawks, their magic number on the bottom has been 75: In games where they’ve rushed for greater than 75 yard this season, they’ve gone 9-3, but they’re 0-5 after they are held under 75 yards. And in news that probably won’t surprise you, the Seahawks didn’t hit 75 yards in either of their two regular-season games against the 49ers. As a matter of fact, they only averaged 53 rushing yards per game. 

The one thing that concerns me in regards to the 49ers is that they are starting a rookie quarterback and rookies are likely to struggle within the playoffs in the identical way that the Titanic struggled against the iceberg. It is not pretty. Nevertheless, I’m not actually overly concerned about Brock Purdy because I believe Kyle Shanahan will ease him into the postseason. The Seahawks surrendered the third-most rushing yards within the NFL this season (150.2 yards per game) so I won’t be surprised if Shanahan draws up a run-heavy game-plan that calls for Purdy to do almost nothing. 

The one quarterback I’m concerned about though is Geno Smith. He’ll be making his first profession playoff start and let me just say that the 49ers have the one defense within the NFL that you do not need to be facing whenever you’re making your first profession playoff start. 

I’m taking the 49ers here, but when the Seahawks win, I may need to let this corgi handle all of my NFL picks next week. 

That dog is way higher at “stairs basketball” than me. 

THE PICK: 49ers 27-20 over Seahawks
Record picking SF-SEA games this season: 2-0
Record picking Seahawks games this season: 9-8 
Record picking 49ers games this season: 12-5 

No. 5 L.A. Chargers (10-7) at No. 4 Jacksonville (9-8)

Saturday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)

Featured Game | Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Los Angeles Chargers

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I’ve spent the past 48 hours occupied with it and that i still do not know how the Jaguars made the playoffs this 12 months. Back on Nov. 1, the Jags were 2-6, which was tied for the third-worst record within the NFL. At that time within the season, the Jags were so bad that I used to be 40% convinced that Doug Pederson was secretly letting Urban Meyer coach the team again. 

As bad because the Jags were through the primary eight weeks though, they did have two wins and one in every of those wins was a game in Week 3 where they destroyed the Chargers 38-10. Nevertheless, I’m not going to place an excessive amount of stock into that game because Justin Herbert was banged up and Keenan Allen didn’t play. Actually, what? I’m going to place some stock into that game and that is since the Chargers were mostly healthy on defense and the defense got gashed up by the Jags. 

Jacksonville totaled 151 yards on the bottom in Week 3 and if the Chargers had gotten higher at stopping the run since then, I would not be bringing this game up straight away, but they’ve in some way gotten worse.

Through the regular season, the Chargers surrendered a complete of 145.8 yards per game on the bottom, which was the second-worst number within the AFC and fifth-worst within the NFL. In addition they gave up a median of 5.4 yards PER CARRY this 12 months, which wasn’t just probably the most within the NFL, but it surely was probably the most by any team SINCE 1959!

When you may run on the Chargers, you may beat them: L.A. went 4-6 this 12 months when giving up greater than 150 yards on the bottom, but 6-1 in games where they surrendered under 150. 

Although the Chargers have been bad at stopping the run, the Jags have been even worse at stopping the pass. Justin Herbert might throw for 500 yards on Saturday and that is because he’ll be going up against a Jaguars defense the surrendered the fifth-most passing yards within the NFL this 12 months. 

The Jaguars defense won’t give you the option to stop the Chargers passing game. The Chargers defense won’t give you the option to stop the Jaguars ground game and now that I’m saying this out loud, I feel like that is going to show right into a shootout. 

This could possibly be the craziest game of the wild-card round and I’m type of split here with my pick, but after watching the Chargers go 1-3 in outdoor games this 12 months — a record that will have been 0-4 if the Browns didn’t miss a 53-yard field goal in the ultimate seconds — I will must roll with the Jags. That is just not a typo. I’m picking Jacksonville to win a playoff game. 

I just have this sinking feeling that the Chargers are going to search out a solution to Charger things up by making some type of huge mistake late in the sport. A missed field goal? A late fumble? An interception? I’m not exactly sure what it can be, but whatever it’s, we’ll all feel sorry for the Chargers when it happens, and it can only get more awkward when Jaxson De Ville celebrates the miscue while wearing a speedo. 

THE PICK: Jaguars 34-31 over Chargers
Record picking LAC-JAX games this season: 0-1
Record picking Chargers games this season: 12-5 
Record picking Jaguars games this season: 7-10

No. 7 Miami (9-8) at No. 2 Buffalo (13-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Featured Game | Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

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If there’s one team I would not wish to be this week, it is the Dolphins. They’re in a rough situation straight away at quarterback and that is because they’re either going to have roll with a banged-up Tua Tagovailoa (concussion), a man with a dislocated finger on his throwing hand (Teddy Bridgewater) or a rookie (Skylar Thompson). 

One of the best option would obviously be Tua, but I’m undecided the Dolphins are going to let him take the sector just two weeks after he experienced one other concussion. If Tua cannot go, the subsequent QB on the depth chart is Bridgewater, but starting him is not ideal because if there’s one injury you do not your QB to be coping with while they’re playing, it is a dislocated finger on their throwing hand. At the underside of the depth chart is Skylar Thompson and for those who watched just five minutes of Miami’s Week 18 win over the Jets, then why the Dolphins may have almost no likelihood of winning if Thompson is the starter. 

If the Dolphins are going to have any likelihood of winning this game, they’ll must determine find out how to run the ball. When these two teams played in Buffalo back in Week 15, the Dolphins kept it close thanks largely to the incontrovertible fact that they rushed for nearly 200 yards. They hit 188 yards with 136 of those coming from Raheem Mostert, so that they’ll must count on him to hold them to a win. 

OK, so remember what I said in regards to the Dolphins needing to count on Mostert to hold them to a win, you may go ahead and forget all that. It’s now as much as Jeff Wilson. 

The crazy thing is that I believe the Dolphins are literally going to give you the option to run the ball, but that being said, I only have one rule relating to picking playoff games and that rule is that if I do not know who your starting quarterback goes to be, then I can not pick your team to win. Regardless of who the Dolphins throw on the market on Sunday, that QB won’t be higher than Josh Allen. 

THE PICK: Bills 30-23 over Dolphins
Record picking MIA-BUF games this season: 1-1
Record picking Dolphins games this season: 10-7
Record picking Bills games this season: 13-3

No. 6 N.Y. Giants (9-7-1) at No. 3 Minnesota (13-4)

Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Fox)

Featured Game | Minnesota Vikings vs. Recent York Giants

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If you happen to watch this game on Sunday, you will be witnessing history and that is because it will give us just the fourth NFL playoff game ever where each teams have a negative point differential. If you happen to’re wondering that even means, it signifies that the Vikings and Giants each got collectively outscored by their opponents this season. Normally, whenever you get outscored by your opponents during a season, you do not make the playoffs, but these two teams in some way managed to buck the trend. 

Although the Vikings won 13 games, they managed to get outscored by their opponents because they got blown out 3 times: They lost 40-3 to the Cowboys, 24-7 to the Eagles and 41-17 to the Packers. Those three games had one big thing in common and that thing is that Kirk Cousins was a disaster. Those were the one three games all season where Cousins had a QB rating below 70. He got sacked 11 times in those three games combined while also throwing a complete of six interceptions. 

I believe what I’m attempting to say here is that if the Giants can fluster Cousins in any respect, they’ll win. The issue for the Giants is that it’s difficult to fluster Cousins, especially when he’s playing at home, where the Vikings are 8-1 this season. That record features a 27-24 Christmas Eve win over the Giants where every little thing went right for the Vikings — they returned a blocked punt for a TD, they forced two turnovers they usually got a 61-yard field goal — and even with all those things going their way, they still barely won. 

In the primary game, Cousins got sacked 4 times and things could get even uglier this week since the Vikings starting right tackle from that game (Brian O’Neil) won’t be on the sector after suffering a season-ending injury in Week 17. 

As for Cousins, although I do not trust him on this game, I trust Daniel Jones less. The Giants QB can be making the primary playoff start of his profession and as I’ve already noted, quarterbacks are likely to struggle when making the primary start of their playoff profession within the wild-card round. The upside for the Giants though is that Brian Daboll can take the sport out of Jones’ hands by unleashing Saquon Barkley, which is what I believe we’ll see. I won’t be surprised in any respect if Barkley gets around 20 carries on this game. 

This game won’t be as sexy as the opposite wild-card games, but I might definitely plan on watching if I were you. I mean, remember, this can be a Vikings game, so the one thing we all know of course is that it can be totally bonkers, there’ll probably be multiple blown leads and it can almost definitely come all the way down to the ultimate play. 

THE PICK: Giants 27-24 over Vikings
Record picking NYG-MIN games this season: 0-1
Record picking Giants games this season: 9-7-1 
Record picking Vikings games this season: 10-7 

No. 6 Baltimore (10-7) at No. 3 Cincinnati (12-4)

Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NBC)

Featured Game | Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens

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If you’re the defending AFC Champions, it’s hard to enter the playoffs with a chip in your shoulder, but it surely appears like the Bengals can be going into the postseason with a chip the scale of Ohio on their shoulders. Not only did the NFL hose them over with the revamped playoff format within the AFC, however the Bengals have also change into the forgotten little brother within the conference because of the Chiefs and Bills. 

I’m undecided a 12-4 team might be considered underrated, but I’m beginning to feel just like the Bengals were one of the underrated teams within the NFL this 12 months. If you happen to have a look at their record, you possibly can easily argue that two of their 4 losses were somewhat flukey. 

They began the 12 months 0-2 because their starting quarterback lost half his body weight after undergoing an appendectomy in late July. Joe Burrow missed all of coaching camp after his appendix ruptured and he looked like a shell of himself through the first two weeks of the season. Despite that, the Bengals only lost by three points in each Week 1 and Week 2. 

In Week 8, the Bengals got smoked by the Browns (32-13), but that was their first game without Ja’Marr Chase and the offense looked completely lost on the sector. That loss definitely wasn’t a fluke, however the Bengals needed to completely revamp their offense on three-days notice and it showed. 

The Bengals have only lost ONE game this 12 months where all their key players were fully healthy and that got here in Week 5 against the Ravens and that is one reason why this game is so interesting. I don’t need to say the Ravens defense has found out Joe Burrow, but they’ve definitely stepped up their game over the past 12 months. After getting embarrassed by Burrow in 2021 — the Bengals QB averaged 470 passing yards per game against them — the Ravens didn’t even let him hit 470 yards total this 12 months (Burrow threw for 217 in Week 5 and 215 in Week 18). 

If the Ravens can once more hold Burrow under 225 yards, then they’ll have a likelihood to win on Sunday, and there is definitely a very good likelihood that might occur. The Bengals lost right guard Alex Cappa to injury in Week 18, which implies they’ll be missing each their starting right guard and right tackle this week (RT La’el Collins was lost for the season in Week 16). With the correct side of the offensive line being completely revamped, Burrow could possibly be facing plenty of pressure, which could keep his numbers down. 

Nevertheless, as I’ve already said, I only have one rule relating to picking playoff games and that rule is that if it’s Tuesday of playoff week and I do not know who your starting quarterback goes to be, then I can not pick your team to win. That rule applies with the Dolphins and it applies here. 

If Lamar Jackson starts, it can be his first game motion in six weeks and it’s nearly unattainable for an NFL quarterback to miss six weeks in the midst of the season and never look not less than slightly rusty when he returns. If Jackson cannot go, which means the Ravens can be rolling with a banged up Tyler Huntley (shoulder injury) at QB or a third-stringer (Anthony Brown) who turned the ball over 3 times while playing the Bengals on Sunday. 

I used to be going to flip a coin to see who wins this game, but I believe the Bengals are uninterested in things being decided by coin flips, so I’m just going to take them. 

I believe the Ravens defense will keep this close for 3 quarters, however the Bengals will draw back late. 

THE PICK: Bengals 27-17 over Ravens
Record picking CIN-BAL games this season: 1-1
Record picking Ravens games this season: 11-6 
Record picking Bengals games this season: 12-4 

No. 5 Dallas (12-5) at No. 4 Tampa Bay (8-9)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Featured Game | Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys

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The Cowboys often wait until the postseason to disintegrate, but this 12 months, it seems they’ve began things slightly bit early. Dallas lost two of its final 4 regular-season games and large reason that happened is because Dak Prescott has apparently forgotten find out how to play football. 

Since getting back from his right thumb injury in Week 7, Prescott just hasn’t been the identical quarterback and although you’d think he can be slowly improving each week, that simply hasn’t been the case. Since Week 12, Prescott has thrown 11 interceptions, which is greater than some other QB within the NFL over that span. 

Because of those 11 interceptions, Prescott finished tied for the NFL lead with 15 picks on the season, which I’m only mentioning since it makes him the FIRST QB IN NFL HISTORY to miss not less than five games and STILL lead the league interceptions. That is up there with “who can eat probably the most tubs of butter in 90 seconds” on the list of records you do not ever wish to break. 

Mainly, on one side of this game, you might have a quarterback who cannot stop throwing interceptions and on the opposite side, you might have probably the most successful NFL quarterback of all-time: Tom Brady. If Brady could have hand-picked his opponent for the wild-card round, I’m guessing he would have picked the Cowboys and that is mainly because if there’s one team the Bucs can be extremely confident in beating, it’s Dallas. For one, the Buccaneers already beat the Cowboys this season, and two, Brady has NEVER LOST TO THE COWBOYS IN HIS CAREER (7-0). 

Also, this game is being played in Tampa Bay, which is notable, because they’ve a grass field in Tampa and Dallas tends to struggle on grass for some reason. The Cowboys have played five games on grass this season they usually’ve gone 1-4 in those games. They lost to the Eagles, Commanders, Jaguars and Packers, and their only win got here against a Titans team that was forced to start out a quarterback (Josh Dobbs) who had only been on the roster for nine days. Even then, the Cowboys still had trouble putting Tennessee away (The sport was 17-13 within the fourth quarter). 

From a defensive standpoint, the Cowboys surrendered a median of 27.2 points of their five games played on grass. Within the 12 games that weren’t played on grass, the Cowboys surrendered just 17.1 points per game, which is a big 10.1-point difference. 

On paper, this game appears like a mismatch, but Tom Brady doesn’t consider in paper so I will ignore the talent disparity and just go along with the team that I trust more straight away and that is the Buccaneers. 

THE PICK: Buccaneers 20-17 over Cowboys
Record picking TB-DAL games this season: 1-0
Record picking Cowboys games this season: 10-7 
Record picking Buccaneers games this season: 9-8 

Last Week

Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Colts would beat the Texans and that is exactly what happened. Wait, that is not what happened in any respect. The Texans actually won 32-31 and I got the pick fallacious, but I’m listing it here since the award for “Best decision” of Week 18 goes to Lovie Smith who decided to go for 2 points in the ultimate minute to beat the Colts. 

Although his decision paid off with a win, he still got fired a number of hours later. 

I do not care what anyone says though, this man is a genius: By getting fired, he now gets to depart a dysfunctional organization, he gets paid whatever is left on his contract and he gets to depart knowing that he cost the Texans their likelihood at getting the No. 1 overall pick. I mean, any time you may screw over someone who’s about to fireplace you AND take their money, you might have to do it, right? Right. Glad we agree. 

Worst pick: Going into Week 18, the Jets had absolutely nothing to play for they usually were going up against a Dolphins team that had every little thing to play for, so naturally, I did the smart thing and took the Dolphins. Just kidding. I did the dumb thing and took the Jets and I do not know why. Once the Super Bowl is over, I can be spending your complete offseason attempting to determine why I made this pick, so if there is not any newsletter from March through August, that is why. 

If you happen to’re wondering what newsletter I’m talking about, it is the NFL newsletter here at CBSSports.com and I’m in control of it. If you ought to frequently hear my incessant ramblings, then you may join by clicking here

Picks record

Straight up in Week 18: 8-8
Final 2022 regular season record SU: 165-105-1 

Against the spread in Week 18: 8-8
Final 2022 regular season record ATS: 129-133-9

Straight-up: 9-4
ATS: 9-4

Yow will discover John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he is not doing one in every of those things, he’s probably attempting to break the record for many tubs of butter eaten in 90 seconds. 

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