Wild Card Round:
Oakland @ Houston – Oakland
Worst playoff quarterback matchup I can remember. The 72-million-dollar joke Brock Osweiler (with Cleveland Browns legend Brandon Weeden backing him up), against former Michigan State star Connor Cook, a rookie making his first career start. I’ll take the Raiders, as the rookie has great weapons to throw to in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and with a simplified game plan should be able to avoid mistakes. I don’t like the Houston offense against Oakland’s defense, and I’ll bet on Khalil Mack having 3 sacks.
Miami @Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh
Matt Moore, my favorite backup in the league, and Miami have enjoyed a great season where they far exceeded expectations, but the fun ends in Pittsburgh, as a rested and healthy Pittsburgh offense should go off. Again, hats off to the job Adam Gase has done with this team. I’ll take Pitt by 2 touchdowns.
Oakland @ New England – New England
A rookie QB against Bill Belichick’s defense? That’s a recipe for disaster. Tom Brady and the offense will need to worry about Mack and Oakland’s pass rush, but shouldn’t have much issue scoring. Patriots handle their business and stroll to a big win.
Pittsburgh @ Kansas City – Pittsburgh
Toss up here. Kansas City has one of the best defenses in the league, but they’ll be tested against the Steelers explosive offense. LeVeon Bell should be a factor as both a runner and a pass catcher, and in a great matchup I expect to see of All-Pro corner Marcus Peters and Antonio Brown, I expect Brown to come out with big numbers. Big Ben’s playoff experience gives Pittsburgh the edge, and if the defense can find a way to contain rookie do-it-all star Tyreek Hill, they should be able to squeak out a close one.
Pittsburgh @ New England – New England
In a battle of two great offenses, it comes down to the defenses. New England has the number one scoring defense in the NFL, and I don’t expect a letdown against the Steelers. Brady takes the Patriots to another Super Bowl with a narrow win over Big Ben and company.
Wild Card Round:
New York @ Green Bay – New York
I was going to take the red-hot Packers, but with their banged up secondary, I expect Eli Manning, OBJ, Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepherd, and whoever else was on that boat with Bieber to have a field day. Aaron Rodger has been playing like an MVP the last 6 weeks, but I’ll give the Giants the upset.
Detroit @ Seattle – Seattle
The Lions had themselves a season somewhat like Miami’s, exceeding expectations. They face a very tall task going against the Seattle defense and the 12th man, and even though Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett called Zach Zenner the best white running back in the NFL (sorry Danny Woodhead), he won’t be good enough to help them pull the upset. Seattle’s offense, as inconsistent as it is, should be able to get the job done.
New York @ Dallas – Dallas
Yes, the Giants beat the Cowboys twice this season, but I say that changes. Not only will Dallas be pissed off from those two losses, but they’ll have the excitement of hosting a playoff game going for them. Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott may be rookies, but Zeke has been in college playoff games and I don’t expect Dak’s composure to change just because of the time of year. Dallas defense should hold up and their offense, as long as they get the running game going early, should move the ball no problem. America’s team gets the close win in the house that Jerry built.
Seattle @ Atlanta – Seattle
I want to pick the Falcons, I really do. Their offense can light you up through the air and on the ground, and I just wrote about how Matt Ryan is my choice for MVP. That being said, Matt Ryan has never shown me anything to say he can perform well when it really counts, and the Falcons, as they usually do, will fizzle out to end the season. Pete Carroll’s squad has the experience on their side, and if they can keep Russell Wilson upright, they should be able to take care of business.
Seattle @ Dallas – Dallas
I can’t see this fairy tale season in Dallas ending here. Seattle’s offense has been inconsistent all year, and while they could go off, I’ll say a motivated Dallas defense holds them in check. The Cowboys shouldn’t have a problem getting Zeke going. The key is if Dez Bryant can create separation of whoever is covering him. If Earl Thomas was healthy, I may be picking differently. The rooks get the job done and take the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl, cementing themselves as legends.
Dallas vs. New England
Champions… New England Patriots
The GOAT vs the kids. Dak and Zeke will struggle against the number 1 scoring defense, and as long as Malcom Butler can hold Dez Bryant in check, I don’t expect more than 21 points from the Cowboys. Marty Bennett against Sean Lee or Bryon Jones should be a mismatch Brady and Josh McDaniels should look to exploit. Brady and the Patriots know how to get it done in February, and he and Bill get their 5th ring.
There you have it, the revenge tour for Brady ends with another ring, and even though one of his hands will be weighted down completely by his now 5 rings, he’ll still have one free to give Roger Goodell a nice slap on the behind when he hands over the Lombardi trophy.
In Bill We Trust, and God Bless Tom Brady