Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) and Green Bay Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins (24) battle for a pass during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The 2016 NFL playoff predictions are at hand, and this is the wild card weekend edition with a quick rundown of who the winners will be.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans
A couple of fascinating backdrops follow what looks like the worst playoff matchup in recent memory. The Raiders go into their first playoff game since 2002 without their MVP Derek Carr. At the same time promising rookie QB Connor Cook has a chance to show the NFL they made a mistake letting him slip in the draft.
Meanwhile the Houston Texans are hosting their second-straight postseason game under Bill O’Brien as head coach yet he’s considered to be on the hot seat. This due in large part to his tense relationship with ownership and the front office over the status of quarterback Brock Osweiler. If they lose, there is a chance he will be fired. Both teams are banged up and flawed, but determined
Result: Texans win 17-16
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers
Praise must be heaped on Adam Gase. The first-year head coach inherited a mess with the Miami Dolphins. Instead of getting overwhelmed, he did what he should’ve done. He made adjustments, got his players motivated and maintained discipline in tough spots. As a result they’ve gone from 1-4 to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
There may be few hotter teams in the league than Pittsburgh though. They clinched the division in a thriller over Baltimore, have won seven-in-a-row and are playing at home where they’ve lost two games all year. Best of all their star-studded trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell is healthy and ready to roll. The same can’t be said for Miami who will be without Ryan Tannehill.
There is something seriously off about the Seattle Seahawks lately. They just don’t look like the Super Bowl contender they’ve been the past four years. Part of it is the poor play of their offensive line and the loss of star safety Earl Thomas. They still haven’t quite adjusted to those problems. Still, they’re at home where they lost just one game in 2016.
At the same time the Lions seem to have run out of that magic they had during the regular season. Those constant late-game comebacks seem to have worn them out. Though they made the playoffs, they did so losing their final three games of the season. They have no momentum, limited firepower and a 3-5 record on the road.
Result: Seahawks win 27-14
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
A playoff rivalry that has become a big thing since their unforgettable first matchup in 2007. The Green Bay Packers are red hot of late, rolling off the final six games on the schedule to steal the NFC North crown. They have every reason to feel confident. They have home field, they haven’t lost since November and they already beat their upcoming opponent this season.
At the same time the Giants know they have no reason to fear the Packers. Their lost earlier in the year was by seven points, and they also know history. In 2007 and 2011 they also lost regular season games to the Packers, only to come back and beat them at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. It’s almost like a prerequisite for them. They can’t reach the Super Bowl unless they get by the Packers.