Last week, MDS and I went 2-2 in the wild-card round, properly believing in the Texans and Seahawks but blowing it as to the Patriots and Saints.
This week, we agree on three of the four picks, with one of us having the guts to call for an upset.
Our picks for the best NFL weekend of the season appear below.
Vikings at 49ers
MDS’s take: The Vikings put on an impressive performance in New Orleans, winning a game that few thought they could. The 49ers, however, have been the best team in the NFC all season, and there’s little reason to believe that will change in the playoffs. Look for George Kittle to have a big game for San Francisco and the 49ers’ defense to shut down Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ passing game.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Vikings 10.
Florio’s take: Thirty-two years ago, Anthony Carter and the Vikings shocked the 49ers in San Francisco, six days after shocking the Saints in New Orleans. One year earlier, the Vikings stole a regular-season game in San Francisco with a 27-24 overtime win. Earlier this year, the 49ers lost their first game of the year, 27-24 in overtime. So what the hell? Lightning strikes all over again for the Vikings, who are good enough to keep it close and if they can keep it close anything can happen.
Florio’s pick: Vikings 27, 49ers 24 (OT).
Titans at Ravens
MDS’s take: The Titans will likely prioritize the running game and try to control the ball with Derrick Henry, but I just can’t see them slowing the game down the way they did against the Patriots. The Ravens’ offense is just too good, and the Titans’ defense won’t be able to stop it.
MDS’s pick: Ravens 30, Titans 20.
Florio’s take: The Titans are good enough to win this one. Much of it hinges on the ability of the offense to shorten the game and to keep the Ravens offense on the sideline. That will work, but not well enough to return the favor from 2008, when the top-seeded Titans fell at home to the Ravens.
Florio’s pick: Ravens 20, Titans 13.
Texans at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Texans went to Kansas City and beat the Chiefs in the regular season, so it’s certainly not out of the question that they could pull the upset. But top to bottom I think the Chiefs are a significantly better team, on offense, defense and special teams. I like the Chiefs to win this one and I don’t see it being particularly close.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 35, Texans 20.
Florio’s take: For some reason, the Chiefs have faded from the collective national radar screen. They shouldn’t have. The offense is potent and the defense is improved. The Texans just don’t have the horses to keep up with the only team left in the postseason that made it this far last year.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 31, Texans 20.
Seahawks at Packers
MDS’s take: The Packers caught a break when the Saints got upset by the Vikings. I believe the Saints match up very well against the Packers and would have won in Green Bay. The Seahawks, however, have a weak run defense that will allow Aaron Jones to have a big game, and the Packers will win this one and head to the NFC Championship Game.
MDS’s pick: Packers 20, Seahawks 17.
Florio’s take: A Vikings win on Saturday will give the Packers a psychological boost, since they won’t have to return to San Francisco. This makes the Packers more likely to win, setting up the first ever Vikings-Packers border war with a berth in the Super Bowl riding on the outcome. (If the 49ers win Saturday, the Seahawks become more likely to prevail.)
Florio’s pick: Packers 24, Seahawks 21.