The wild card weekend begins with the Oakland Raiders making their first playoff appearance since 2002 when they advanced the whole way to Super Bowl XXXVII. Oakland will travel to Houston to face the Texans, who won the AFC South for the second consecutive season. The Raiders season has taken a different turn with the injury to MVP candidate QB Derek Carr. Matt McGloin started the season finale against Denver and injured a shoulder. Rookie Connor Cook saw his first action of the season and may play again Saturday. Regardless, the Raiders will place a great deal of emphasis on their running game which averages 4.5 yards per carry. Running backs Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington have helped the Raiders average over 120 yards rushing (6th in the NFL) per game. Houston will counter with RB Lamar Miller who hopes to have success against Oakland’s 21st-ranked run defense. Cortana and Bing predict Oakland to win with 53% chance.
The Detroit Lions can thank the Washington Redskins for a trip to the postseason. When the Redskins lost to the New York Giants, it sent the NFC North runner-up to the wild card round where Detroit will face Seattle. Consider the following: Detroit has beaten just one team with a winning record (Washington 8-7-1); the Lions beat just one team (New Orleans) by double digits; Detroit allows the highest percentage of pass completions in the NFL. Oh, and there’s the fact that Seattle has won nine straight home playoff games. The Lions are just 3-5 on the road this season and playing at CenturyLink Field in Seattle is rough on anyone. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (4,219 passing yards) could be especially rough on that Detroit pass defense. Cortana and Bing pick Seahawks to win with 73% chance.
When Miami travels to Pittsburgh on Sunday, it will be nothing like Week 6 of the regular season. The Steelers faced the Dolphins in Week 6 in Miami and fell victim to a team that used that win to turn around their entire 2016 season. But this time, the game will be in much colder weather and the Dolphins will likely be without starting QB Ryan Tannehill. Expect Pittsburgh to give Miami’s weak run defense a healthy dose of RB Le’Veon Bell. Despite missing the Steelers first three games and not playing in the season finale, Bell finished fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,268 yards. Pittsburgh won their last seven games of the season to finish 11-5 and win the AFC North. Bing & Cortana – Steelers will win with 69% chance.
Also on Sunday, the red hot Green Bay Packers will play host to the New York Giants. It will be a battle of QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Giants spent upwards of $200 million last offseason to shore up their weakest element. The results have been astounding. The Giants are a Top 10 defense in most every statistical category. Rodgers will give the Giants a handful. He led the NFL in touchdown passes with 40. Rodgers threw for four in the final regular season game, a 31-24 win over Detroit which secured the NFC North Division title for Green Bay. New York will need to find a way to run the football to keep the Packers from keying on the Eli Manning-to-Odell Beckham Jr. connection. The Packers and Giants have played six previous playoff games. Green Bay has won four. Cortana and Bing predict Packers to win with 69% chance.
Cortana and Bing NFL Picks – Wild Card Round
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans – Oakland Raiders 53%
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks – Seattle Seahawks 73%
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Pittsburgh Steelers 69%
New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers – Green Bay Packers 69%