This is the time of year that can normally get people down. The holidays are over, the long and dreary winter settles in with nothing on the horizon. Enter the NFL playoffs. How can you not get excited for Super Wild Card Weekend? It promises to be action packed and while every game may not be thrilling, there are certainly intriguing story lines with each matchup. Lots of inter-divisional game rematches right off the bat this weekend and some intrigue with injuries and of course, the weather, especially in California. Let’s break down some games and enjoy the first round, shall we? 

Seahawks @ 49ers, Saturday @ 4:30pm, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, 49ers -9.5, O/U 42.5 

It never rains in California, huh? Well, it seems like that has been all it’s been doing lately. And this Saturday will be no different. Get ready for a sloppy Levi Stadium with showers and rain dominating the forecast. Temperatures will be in the 50s during the game and it certainly won’t be a California dream. Now, the Seahawks are used to playing in rain and miserable conditions. They are from Seattle after all. The 49ers are also the much better team and I can’t imagine a little rain getting them down, even with Brock Purdy as their starter. I don’t think the Seahawks are very good, but 9.5 is a lot of points in a playoff game, even against a really good team. I think Seattle has some weaknesses in their defense, which could be an issue. But given the conditions and the 49ers defense, I’ll take the under here. Hoping for a sloppy, wet, throwback game that features turnovers and defense. Why not? UNDER 42.5. 

Chargers @ Jaguars, Saturday @ 8:15pm, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, Chargers -1.5, O/U 47.5  

This game is probably the least attractive from a branding standpoint, but it’s in primetime with Al Michaels in the booth, so I’ll be watching. I’ll also be watching because I still have a fondness for Doug Pederson and I like what the Jags have put together down the stretch. Trevor Lawrence is finding his rhythm and Pederson is starting to figure out how to maximize his talents. The Chargers have to fly across the country to take on a surging team in Jacksonville, not that exciting of a venue. And let’s not forget two things: Jacksonville beat this team on the road earlier this year and is playing its best football of the season right now, including defensively. The weather looks pleasant, just a bit breezy. It could come down to the kicking game given the line, but I’ll take the Jags and the points at home. Jaguars +1.5. 

Dolphins @ Bills, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY, Bills -9, O/U 46.5 

The Bills have had an emotional stretch for obvious reasons recently and while they get to host the Dolphins for this weekend’s wild card bonanza, they haven’t been as dominant as I expected them to be this season. They are a great team, just not perfect. Maybe I was expecting too much. There is no way I was going to pick anybody but the Bills in this spot. Tua likely not playing, and now confirmed in recent days that he will be out, makes a Bills win all but a foregone conclusion. The question is: can they cover? Most likely yes, especially with some colder air finally moving in for the weekend. It will be breezy with some snow showers around too. Not exactly friendly to a team from Florida. But as I have stated before, the Bills have shown some weaknesses this season. Those weaknesses, mainly sloppy play at times, and being inconsistent on offense, may not be enough to win the Super Bowl…but will absolutely be enough to be this version of the Dolphins at home. You could likely lay the points here and be confident, but I’ll take the Bills as the big moneyline favorite. Bills ML. 

Giants @ Vikings, Sunday @ 4:30pm, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN, Vikings -3, O/U 48.5 

This is the one game where weather will absolutely not be a factor thanks to the dome in Minnesota. The first time these two teams met this season was a good one, and a very evenly matched contest. This one will likely be close too, with both teams looking the part at times, and at others, showing signs of trouble. Justin Jefferson, the Vikings wide receiver, had 12 catches for 133 yards in the first game against the G-Men and helped edge his team to a 3 point win. The Giants will have a find a way to stop him and Kirk Cousins if they want to walk out with a victory on Sunday. Saquon Barkley can’t do it all, but I’m sure he’ll try. Neither QB impresses me much, but I think the Vikings have the better guy and certainly more experienced guy with Cousins. I’ll lay the points with the Vikings at home. I think they have too many weapons, including Jefferson, for the Giants to have a shot. Vikings -3. 

Ravens @ Bengals, Sunday @ 8:15pm, Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, Bengals -7, O/U 41.5  

This game also seems easy to pick on paper. The Bengals were just in the Super Bowl last year, have a great QB with Joey Burrow, and seem to be playing at a high level right now. Plus, they are at home and the weather looks decent. What’s not to like? I’ll tell you. John Harbaugh knows how to win playoff games. He’s been doing it for a long time now. And I wouldn’t want to ever face the Ravens in the playoffs, especially as underdogs. The defense will hold up, even if Lamar Jackson is out. I like Baltimore to keep it closer than the experts think. I get why so many people love the Bengals. But keep an eye on this game. Harbaugh might even find a way to pull the upset here. I think a touchdown is too high. Baltimore continues to have a legitimate defense and is number 3 in the league in points per game allowed. I’ll take the points here with the Ravens on the road and hope for a defensive struggle. I know what I’m up against. Don’t care. Ravens +7. 

Cowboys @ Buccaneers, Monday @ 8:15pm, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL, Cowboys -2.5, O/U 45.5 

ESPN getting one of the most talked about matchups for the Monday Night Wild Card game was certainly something I didn’t see coming. Joe, Troy, Tom, Dak – what a night, what a matchup! Can the Cowboys get it together off an embarrassing loss to the Commanders last week? Will Brady have his troops ready to fire and try and chase yet another Super Bowl? I think we know the answer to the second question much better than we do the first one. Could Mike McCarthy be in trouble if the Cowboys go down in flames? Anything seems possible here. Given last week’s nightmare and the fact that Dallas is usually a no-show in these situations, how can anybody not like the Bucs? Well, that’s easy. They aren’t very good. They barely won their division. They have had a lot of injuries. They have looked bleak and uninspired offensively at times this season. But if you think I’m going to pick against Tom Brady at home in the playoffs, then I have a bridge to sell you. The weather looks perfect. It’ll be much warmer in Tampa on Monday than Jacksonville on Saturday. Clear skies with temperatures around 70°. Yes please! I’ll take points. I’ll take Brady. I’ll take the Bucs. Fire the cannons! Bucs +2.5. 

Here’s a summary of my picks for the week: 

Brett’s Games of the Week Picks

Seahawks @ 49ers: UNDER 42.5

Jaguars +1.5

Bills ML

Vikings -3

Ravens +7

Buccaneers +2.5

Everything kicks off Saturday afternoon with a wet one in San Francisco. The Eagles are on a bye and await their fate. This should be fun. Enjoy the weekend, good luck, and remember – whether you go big or stay small, the weather has an impact on winning big or losing it all. May good fortune be on your side and may your teams perform well! 

-Brett Thackara

This is my type of football weekend. I can watch the games and not worry about my own team. I have rooting interest in the Jaguars with Doug at the helm. Otherwise, the NFC is very intriguing to me. Can the 49ers beat Seattle for the 3rd time in one season? Can the Giants make the Vikings look like lucky pretenders? Plenty of story lines to follow!

Seahawks @ 49ers, Saturday @ 4:30pm, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, 49ers -9.5, O/U 42.5 

My gut says this is a game to be worried about and stay away from if you do actually put money down. The weather has been anything but normal California standards with blowing rain even affecting the CFP national championship in Los Angeles on Monday. I don’t like this game because this now the third time these teams will meet, and the weather may be ugly with rain and chill. The last game was only a 8 point victory for the 49ers. The 9.5 spread seems high, especially a third string quarterback who could come back down to earth at any moment. I’ll take the 49ers ML because of my fear of not covering the spread.

Chargers @ Jaguars, Saturday @ 8:15pm, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL, Chargers -1.5, O/U 47.5  

Doug Pederson continues to coach well despite being handed teams that are disjointed or not clicking on all cylinders. The Chargers are equally difficult to figure out based on their inconsistency. I can’t say I have been impressed with Brandon Staley’s coaching, and they seem like a team that could be out of the playoffs early. This is nearly a coin flip to me, but I do slightly favor the home team Jags with cool January Florida weather- I’ll take them at +1.5.

Dolphins @ Bills, Sunday @ 1:00pm, Highmark Stadium, Orchard Park, NY, Bills -9, O/U 46.5 

This may be most straightforward game of the weekend. The Dolphins are a shell of what they were to begin the season and the big hits on Tua added up and have likely ended his season. Skylar Thompson will likely be under center again and that is not instilling any confidence for a playoff run after last weekend. I think the Bills win big despite more a wintry day in Buffalo, good luck Dolphins! Bills -9.

Giants @ Vikings, Sunday @ 4:30pm, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN, Vikings -3, O/U 48.5 

I have said it all year- I believed these two teams were pretenders and not contenders. If anything the Giants have impressed me more down the stretch compared to the Vikings. Kirk Cousins can win you games, but can he win the big ones. He seems prone to the dumb interception at the worst time. Giants, when balanced, have enough of a ball control offense that they could take control of the time of possession against a passive Vikings defense. I’m taking the upset here! Giants take this one at +3.

Ravens @ Bengals, Sunday @ 8:15pm, Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, Bengals -7, O/U 41.5  

The Ravens’ only hope after losing Lamar Jackson is that their defense can help to generate some offense via turnovers. However, that does not seem like it will be enough against a Bengals team that has been trending upward for months. Joe Burrow should be able to miss a few throws or even cough up a turnover or two and still have enough cushion. I don’t see this game being close- Bengals -7.

Cowboys @ Buccaneers, Monday @ 8:15pm, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL, Cowboys -2.5, O/U 45.5 

Besides the Giants-Viking match-up, this game promises to be the more unpredictable and closer games. The Cowboys really ended their season with a thud last week, and it is hard to know if they laid down knowing the Eagles were playing the Giants backups or if there are deeper problems. My hunch is that the Cowboys will rise to the occasion, but so will Tom Brady. The Eagles learned last year that it is no easy task going down to Tampa to start a playoff run. I am picking the Buccaneers to win on a late drive to seal a close game: Buccaneers ML.

Dan’s Games of the Week Picks

49ers ML

Jaguars +1.5

Bills -9

Giants +3

Bengals -7

Buccaneers ML

**All odds from Caesars Sportsbook as 1/11/23**