Wild-Card Weekend: NFC Picks

#6 Seattle at #3 Minnesota

Supposedly the weather in Minnesota is gonna be 1° Sunday. And WTBU’s own Alex Smith will be in attendance, as he hails from the land of purple-people eaters and Marshall Eriksen. Bundle up, Smith, this could be a tough afternoon.

Seattle destroyed the Vikes in Minnesota 38-7 week 13 in one of many brilliant second-half Russ Wilson performances. In Seattle’s last eight games, Russ threw 25 touchdowns and only two picks, posting a passer rating 123.7 or above six times. Like the Steelers, the ‘Hawks were a popular pick late this season to sneak into the playoffs and make noise. But after Seattle’s week 16 loss to St. Louis, the hype has vanished.

And I don’t understand why. Yeah, I know the weather will play a factor, but that will effect both teams. If anything the freezing temperature will help Seattle. I just don’t see Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings’ 31st-ranked pass offense moving the ball against Seattle’s 2nd-ranked pass defense.

I think the key to Minnesota keeping it close will be getting pressure on Wilson. If the Vikings’ excellent pass rush (7th in sacks) can disrupt Wilson (Seahawks 7th in sacks allowed), that could change the field position battle, allowing AP to do his thing. If Minnesota can’t get to Russ and create turnovers, well then I just don’t trust Teddy to get the ball downfield.

(-5.5) Seattle 21, Minnesota 7

#5 Green Bay at #4 Washington

On the surface, this pick should be easy. The Packers won 10 games and have Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback while the Redskins play in the lowly NFC East. And, yes, while these statements are true (The Cowboys/Giants/Eagles combined to go 14 games under .500), they don’t accurately depict the state of these teams.

Let’s dig a little deeper than the tired narrative. First, the NFC East’s poor record sans Washington should not reflect on the Washington professional football team. The ‘skins took care of business against their lesser NFC East opponents, going 4-2 in their division. Of course a home loss against Matt Cassel and the Cowboys doesn’t look great, but since that game Washington has rolled off four straight wins. And Cousins posted a 12:1 TD/INT ratio in those victories (Yeah I mention TD/INT ratios a lot, sue me).

There’s a reason Washington is favored. They’re playing well while Green Bay is not the same Green Bay we’ve become accustomed to. For all the talk about Eddie Lacy’s poor performance, the Pack were 12th in rush yards per game while ranking 25th in total pass yards. TWENTY-FIFTH. So don’t give me that Rodgers talk. He’s been off his game and it hasn’t helped that his receivers can’t get open.

The entire season Green Bay has missed Jordy Nelson. And it’s been even more apparent as of late (Green Bay is 4-6 in their last 10, including the last-second hail mary win, and have lost two straight). I’ll take the hot team over the reeling one every time. That’s how you make picks in the playoffs.

(-1) Washington 24, Green Bay 20

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