It's Wildcard Weekend in the NFL, and picks are in order -
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS over Kansas City Chiefs -
The Chiefs lost five of their last seven games in the regular season, including a 23-7 embarassment to the Colts; the Colts have won twelve of their last fourteen meetings with the Chiefs, and in 2013 they won six of their last nine games. Andrew Luck is clearly a better quarterback than Alex Smith, and Andy Reid hasn't done well against the Colts (winning in 2010's shocker at Philly). Smith may put up more of a fight in this one, but the Colts win.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES over New Orleans Saints -
Curiously some are pointing to New Orleans' defense as the edge for this game. I'm not quite sure, because all five of their losses (three of them against playoff teams) came on the road, including three of their last five games, plus the Saints have been notoriously mediocre in outdoor games. The Eagles meanwhile won seven of their last eight games, notably against playoff or playoff contending teams such as Green Bay, Chicago, Arizona, and of course the big win at Dallas. Nick Foles' numbers (8-2 in his ten starts, just under 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions) suggest he may be a special player. There is also the nagging reality that Drew Brees hasn't won an outdoor playoff game since the Superbowl win.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS over CINCINNATI BENGALS -
The Bengals under Marvin Lewis have won their last three meetings with the Chargers, including December's 17-10 meeting at Qualcomm. But this is the playoffs; Lewis is winless and the fact is he has not shown he isn't in over his head in a playoff game. Philip Rivers is not quite elite anymore but is still an upper-echelon quarterback while Andy Dalton has shown he is good but hasn't shown he can be elite; Rivers also has playoff winning experience where Dalton does not. Since that December 1 meeting the Chargers have scored no fewer than 26 points while the Bengals defense got shredded for 28 against Indianapolis and 30 against Pittsburgh. The Chargers face a grind of a game but are fundamentally the better team.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS over GREEN BAY PACKERS -
The Packers got Aaron Rodgers back. Big deal. Not only is Green Bay unable to stop anyone (they gave up at least 28 points in four of their last five games) but Aaron Rodgers has been a subpar quarterback against the Niners, winning only two of his five career meetings and losing his last three such meetings. The Niners have gotten into a groove after a shaky start and though Colin Kaepernick has been inconsistent he's looked noticeably better lately. Bet on the Niners here.
And so New England, Seattle, Carolina, and Denver rest and await the outcome of Wildcard Weekend.