Finally, the NFL playoffs are back.
If you dig football like all of the cool kids, you know this is one of the best four-week stretches of the entire season. Few things are better than do-or-die football, which is all we have from here on out, and it starts with a delicious set of games this weekend.
The NESN.com picks are set to continue into the playoffs, and we’ve added to the party. NESN.com editors John Beattie and Mike Cole are joined by Doug Kyed and Luke Hughes this weekend for twice the picking fun.
Check out their picks below.
All lines are from Bovada as of Friday.
John: Both teams are pretty evenly matched here, and both were pretty inconsistent in the regular season. Andrew Luck finished the season very strong and had his best game in a loss to the Bengals on the road — that was Indy’s only loss in five December games. Sure, this is a team that lost to the Dolphins and Rams at home, but the Colts also beat the Seahawks and Broncos at home. In this case, I have to go with the home — and hot — team: COLTS
Mike: This is a tough one to say the least, thanks in large part to the inconsistency referenced by Mr. Beattie. The Chiefs feel like the pick here, though. Jamaal Charles is a game-changing back, and he has a week of rest under his belt, as do the rest of the important Chiefs. One big game from him here, and that’s all KC needs. Andy Reid might not be able to win the “big one,” but he certainly can win in the earlier rounds. That’s good enough for me. CHIEFS
Doug: The Chiefs had an incredible bounce-back season, and by the end, they looked like they were content just winning 11 games and making the playoffs. Kansas City hasn’t beat a quality team since Week 3 when it upended the playoff-bound Eagles. The Colts finished much stronger and will beat the Chiefs, even without Reggie Wayne, just as they did in Week 16. COLTS
Luke: Their meeting in Week 16 wasn’t pretty for Kansas City, ending in a 23-7 rout. Jamaal Charles got just 13 carries in that game — his second fewest on the season — but still managed 106 yards and one touchdown. Andy Reid will exploit the Colts’ 26th-ranked run defense a lot more this time, allowing Charles to run the Chiefs right into the divisional round. CHIEFS
John: These teams have played each other just eight times since 1995, so let’s toss out all head-to-head matchups right away. Despite how well Nick Foles has been playing this season, Drew Brees has the edge in the QB matchup, but there’s one issue: Brees and the Saints stink outside the Superdome. Nola barely beat the Bucs and Falcons on the road and straight up lost to the Jets and Rams on the road. EAGLES
Mike: If you Google “Drew Brees cold,” you get 862,000 results, and the majority probably aren’t referring to his NyQuil commercials. If we’re all sick of hearing about that narrative, imagine how Brees feels. He doesn’t want his legacy to be that he never could win outside and in the cold, and that motivation will be just enough to help New Orleans get over the hump in Philly. SAINTS
Doug: The Saints are just 3-5 on the road this season, and Lincoln Financial Field will be about 40 degrees cooler than the temperature New Orleans is accustomed to playing at inside the Superdome. Still, in playoff matchups, many times it comes down to the quarterbacks, and Nick Foles might not fare too well in his first postseason game, despite his historic season. It will be a grind on the road, but New Orleans can pull it off. SAINTS
Luke: The Saints struggled to score late in the season, averaging just above 20 points over their final six games. The Eagles, meanwhile, averaged nearly 32 points per game over that same home stretch. LeSean McCoy and Philadelphia’s top-ranked rushing attack (160.4 yards per game) will take advantage of New Orleans’ porous run defense (19th in the NFL), and the Eagles’ opportunistic defense, which forced the third-most turnovers in the NFL this season (31), will create a few extra possessions for their offense. Philly is just too much to handle at home. EAGLES
John: Cincy already handled the Chargers once this season (in San Diego), and Andy Dalton has the makings to be this year’s Joe Flacco, but seven points is a lot for a playoff game. Right? Also, Philip Rivers has been playing pretty un-Philip Rivers like this season with just 11 picks to 32 TD passes. He also had the best completion percentage this season and has a little safety blanket named Danny Woodhead out of the backfield to keep him from going all gunslinger on us. CHARGERS
Mike: Can I really take Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton in the playoffs? Can I really do that? For one week, yes. That Cincinnati home record is just too good to ignore, and there’s reason to believe the Bengals can take advantage of a suspect San Diego defense. Giovani Bernard has been good all season, and this feels like it could be a nice little coming-out party for him. BENGALS
Doug: No team wants to play the Chargers right now, as they’re riding a four-game winning streak into the postseason. But the Bengals are the last team to beat San Diego, and they did it in Paul Brown Stadium, where Sunday’s game will be held. If Cincinnati goes down early, Andy Dalton will panic and go full-pout on the sideline. CHARGERS
Luke: Andy Dalton was absolutely atrocious in his first two ventures into the postseason, throwing four interceptions and no touchdown passes. However, both of those were road games, and Dalton is a much different quarterback in Cincinnati. The Bengals are 8-0 this season at home, and Dalton scored 22 of his 35 total touchdowns (20 passing and two rushing) and threw just nine of his 20 picks in those games. The Chargers couldn’t stop the Bengals in San Diego, and they certainly won’t be able to in Cincinnati. Sorry, Philip Rivers. BENGALS
John: Say what you will about Aaron Rodgers’ return and what it means to the Packers’ offense, but the fact is, Green Bay give up tons of points (26.8 per game). However, there could be some magic in the air this weekend at Lambeau — there usually is in the postseason and in this weather. It’s smart to pick a home underdog, I’ve been told, and with Rodgers’ comeback story and this (beautifully renovated) arena in the playoffs, it’s too hard to pick against the Pack. PACKERS
Mike: It took a lot of footballs for the Packers to rally and win last week in Chicago in Rodgers’ first game back from injury. The Packers picked up a couple of really big fourth-down conversions, and it feels like the type of win that a team builds off heading into the playoffs. The weather also seems like a big factor. It won’t be easy for either quarterback, but don’t you just get the feeling that Rodgers is better suited to handle this than Colin Kaepernick? Finally, maybe the cold weather is Dom Capers’ great equalizer, as the Green Bay defensive coordinator kind of looks like Snow Miser. PACKERS
Doug: It’s incredible the Packers even made the playoffs this season after Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn nearly tanked their postseason hopes. But Aaron Rodgers is back, and he looked like his old self in Week 17 against the Bears. The Packers are underdogs, but they can topple the 49ers in what will be one of the coldest games in recent memory. It will be a high of 2 degrees in Green Bay on Sunday. PACKERS
Luke: The Niners have had the Packers’ number three times over the last 15 months, but this time Green Bay actually has a running game. The Packers’ one-dimensional attack couldn’t overcome the 49ers’ defense in their three prior meetings, but Eddie Lacy’s emergence as a featured back will force Jim Harbaugh’s boys to readjust. Between Lacy, a healthy Aaron Rodgers and wind chills in the negative-20s, the Pack will be just too much to handle. PACKERS
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