The wild-card weekend went exactly as planned.
First, the Minnesota Vikings, led by an all-time clutch quarterback, Kirk Cousins, defeated the New Orleans Saints down on the bayou. Cousins, known for his success on the biggest stages, now gets the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers.
It’s hard to say if the Houston Texans won last week’s matchup with Buffalo or if the Bills lost it. Deshaun Watson and company advance to face Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that should be an exciting shootout.
Fan favorite Seattle squeaked out a win in Philadelphia. Eagles QB Carson Wentz was knocked out of the game, literally, courtesy of a questionable hit. Philly was better with the elder statesmen, Josh McCown, under center, but McCown wasn’t enough to put the Eagles over the top.
Tom Brady’s reign of terror over the NFL is over.
What a weekend!
Vikings @ 49ERS -7
Everything I said about Kirk Cousins in the intro was a lie. For years, Cousins failed under bright lights of prime time. Did the veteran passer exercise the demons last week in New Orleans?
Cousins even played a leading role in the upset, connecting with receiver Adam Thielen with a beautiful deep ball to put Minnesota in position to win the game. Cousins proceeded to find Kyle Rudolph for the winning score a few plays later. Apparently, Cousins really is clutch!
Will Captain Kirk pull off another upset over the hated 49ers, America’s least favorite team?
We can certainly hope so but I’m not confident. The 49ers have the feel of a championship team. Of course, I picked the Saints to win the NFC and we all witnessed how that turned out. Now I’m picking the Niners.
Go Niners! 49ers win 31-20
Titans @ RAVENS -10
Everyone’s Super Bowl favorite Baltimore Ravens host the upstart Tennessee Titans with a trip to the AFC Championship game on the line. Tennessee did the world a favor, dispatching Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in the opening round.
Can the Titans take out the AFC favorites this week?
It will be a tall order for Ryan Tannehill and company to pull off another road upset. The Ravens have the team of destiny vibe following them everywhere you look.
Ravens passer Lamar Jackson is an unstoppable force entering into his prime. It seems very unlikely that Jackson’s storybook MVP season is going to end without a couple playoff victories. Ravens win 28-14
Seahawks @ PACKERS -5
The Seahawks are spent after surviving a fantastic Eagles team last Sunday in Philadelphia. The Packers, led by the greatest quarterback of all time, the ultratalented Aaron Rodgers, should be able to win this game going away.
The Packers have everything going for them. The brilliant passer, the strong rusher and a terrifyingly great defense led by the Smith brothers.
We haven’t even mentioned that the game is being played in Green Bay, home of hallowed Lambeau Field. Nobody marches into Lambeau in January and gets a win.
It’s a foregone conclusion that Green Bay will face the 49ers for a chance to reach the Super Bowl. Packers win 31-17
TEXANS @ Chiefs -10
The Texans trailed for most of their matchup with Buffalo last week before quarterback Deshaun Watson’s heroics bailed out an uneven performance.
The Bills had multiple opportunities to put the Texans away, but Buffalo’s offense settled for field goals repeatedly, allowing Houston an opportunity to stay in the game.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes famously does not need to settle for field goals. The Texans will need to be much improved this Sunday to top Mahomes and KC.
Watson’s magic will keep them in the game, and ultimately cover the number, but KC will hold off the visiting side in the fourth quarter. Chiefs win 31-24
By Nolan Rose
For the Clarion