Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the sports world in 2020, the NFL miraculously played all 256 of their regular season games with only minor hiccups. Even more miraculous is that I, a chronic procrastinator, published weekly picks and Power Rankings for all 17 weeks.

But there’s more work to be done, and more games left to play, with four rounds of NFL playoffs to complete. While I already wrote out my complete bracket prediction, I’ll still share my game-by-game picks for Wildcard Weekend, as well as tally my final regular season mark.

Picks Record

Week 1: 10-6

Week 2: 11-5

Week 3: 8-7-1

Week 4: 10-5

Week 5: 7-7

Week 6: 10-4

Week 7: 10-4

Week 8: 7-7

Week 9: 7-7

Week 10: 9-5

Week 11: 7-7

Week 12: 9-7

Week 13: 8-7

Week 14: 12-4

Week 15: 11-5

Week 16: 9-7

Week 17: 12-4

Overall: 157-98-1 (62% correct)

Week 17 was one of my strongest yet, and I finished out the season without having a losing record in any single week (though I did have four weeks where I only broke even.) I end the season with a solid 62% pick success rate over 256 games.

In Week 17 I incorrectly predicted:

  • Jets over Patriots
  • Cowboys over Giants
  • Broncos over Raiders
  • Cardinals over Rams

Saturday Games

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Roll Past Falcons Into Playoffs
Photo: Bay News

#7 Indianapolis Colts (11-5) at #2 Buffalo Bills (13-3)

Line: Buffalo Bills (-6.5)

The Colts finished exactly where I picked them to finish in the preseason: 11-5, virtually tied for the AFC South lead but entering the playoffs as a wildcard. Still, I’m not sure where exactly to peg this Colts team. In my Post-Week 17 Power Rankings, they’re the final team in the Top Ten, which feels about right.

Josh Allen and the Bills, however, are the second-best team in the NFL in my opinion. With a strong finish in the regular season and a 7-1 record in Buffalo, the Bills have all the tools to win this game and advance to the Divisional Round. Thanks to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, there will even be a small amount of fans in attendance for this rare home playoff game.

I think this game starts close, but Allen and the Bills continue to pile on points in the second half. I don’t think Philip Rivers and the Colts will be able to keep up.

Bills win 36-24, Bills win ATS

#6 Los Angeles Rams (10-6) at #3 Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

Line: Seattle Seahawks (-3.0)

On November 15, the Rams defeated the Seahawks 23-16 to even both teams records at 6-3 and create a tie for the NFC West lead. At that time, with the two teams trending in opposite direction, I may have picked Los Angeles in a playoff scenario. But after dropping two of their last three and three of their last six games, I’m not confident the Rams can beat the Seahawks again. In Week 16, with everything on the line, Seattle defeated 20-9.

That game was played in Seattle, as this one will be as well. Even without the fans, or Seattle’s “12th man,” the Seahawks retained a dominant 7-1 record at home. Even assuming a healthy and active Jared Goff, I don’t see the Rams pulling off this upset. Russell Wilson’s playoff experience will shine as Seattle cruises to a big win at home.

Seahawks win 31-16, Seahawks win ATS

#5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) at #4 Washington Football Team (7-9)

Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-8.0)

If you told me at the beginning of the year that the NFC East would send a 7-9 team to the postseason, I would’ve believed it. But Washington Football Team is the last team I would’ve chosen to fill that slot. With a carousel at quarterback, it’ hard to get a good pulse on this team, but they did go 6-4 to finish out the season. When Alex Smith plays, Washington was a dangerous team, knocking off the Steelers, Cowboys, and 49ers in consecutive weeks.

For comparison, Tampa Bay went 7-3 over their final ten games, with losses to elite teams like the Saints and Chiefs. What I’m trying to say though is the Buccaneers haven’t been that much better than Washington lately.. or have they? The answer is yes, they have, as Tom Brady’s offense has scored 26 points or more in seven straight games. Washington will either have to keep up on offense or hope to contain Brady with their defense: neither of which I think they are capable of.

Buccaneers win 33-17, Buccaneers win ATS

Sunday Games

Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson says Titans 'wanted it more than us'
Photo: Nick Wass/AP

#5 Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at #4 Tennessee Titans (11-5)

Line: Baltimore Ravens (-3.0)

Last year, the Titans upset the Ravens 28-12 en route to an AFC Championship Game appearance. Baltimore will certainly be looking for revenge in 2021, and even though they’re slightly favored, I’d still consider them the underdog as the visiting wildcard team.

With a hot 5-0 start, Tennessee looked like a potential AFC powerhouse. But by sputtering to the finish, going 6-5 after that, I’m not sure the Titans are currently playing their best football. Tennessee did beat Baltimore 30-24 earlier this season.

All in all, this should be a close game, but I think Lama Jackson finally breaks through for his first career playoff victory.

Ravens win 27-24, PUSH ATS

#7 Chicago Bears (8-8) at #2 New Orleans Saints (12-4)

Line: New Orleans Saints (-10.0)

If we ignore Chicago’s six-game losing streak in the middle of the season, they would have a 8-2 record just counting the front and back ends of the season. If that Bears team shows up in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, Chicago could have a fighting chance. Mitch Trubisky was the better option at quarterback all along, even though he was prematurely benched in favor of Nick Foles.

Chicago’s offense was red-hot (26, 33, 41 points in Weeks 14-16) but cooled off in a 35-16 loss to the Packers in Week 17. This 12-4 Saints team may put up a similar result on Sunday afternoon. Chicago’s three season-saving wins all came against non-playoff teams. The Saints offense is scary good, and even if their defense isn’t the tightest, I don’t see the Bears keeping up.

Saints win 33-17, Saints win ATS

#6 Cleveland Browns (11-5) at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.0)

To wrap up a series of pretty unexciting picks (let’s face it, I basically went with the favorite in every game,) I’m going to pick the team that does have the services of their head coach and offensive coordinator available. The Browns are in a tough situation, with their Special Teams coach expected to call plays in Cleveland’s first playoff appearance since 2002.

While I did find the Browns to be overrated most of the season, the fact the Steelers slipped up in the final third of the season meant this could have been a close and exciting game. But the Browns barely beat the Steelers in Week 17 with Mason Rudolph starting at quarterback for Pittsburgh. In this winner-take-all situation, Pittsburgh should win handily against the Browns, in large part due to their unfortunate situation but also because the Steelers are the better football team.

Steelers win 26-18, Steelers win ATS






Travel and Hiking

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Header Photo Credit: Via Press Box Online

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