We have two NFL playoff games on Wild Card Saturday. The fifth seed Arizona Cardinals will visit the fourth Carolina Panthers while the sixth seed Baltimore Ravens will visit the third seed Pittsburgh Steelers. The odds favor the Panthers, who are nearly a touchdown favorite, and the Steelers, who are 3-point home favorites. Not that the odds on the game mean anything when it comes to the result...
I'm hoping for two very close games. If your team is out in the playoffs, like the Kansas City Chiefs are this weekend, then I'm wishing for games that go down to the wire. Nothing worse than waiting all week for the playoffs only to see a couple of blowouts.
Online streaming options:
Cardinals-Panthers: 4:35 p.m. (ET), ESPN
The Cardinals-Panthers game is very interesting because the Cardinals are an 11-win team in second place (behind the Seattle Seahawks) while the Panthers are a seven win team. The last seven win playoff team was a few years ago when the seven win Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs.
Most people are going to be taking the Panthers because of the Cardinals quarterback situation. They lost Carson Palmer earlier this year and then backup Drew Stanton got hurt. So they're down to third string quarterback Ryan Lindley. That suggests that the Cardinals are going to have a hard time winning.
The thing is, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is amazing. There's no reason this team should be this good but yet here they are. For that reason, the coaching advantage, I'm picking the upset with the Cardinals beating the Panthers. Let's go with 16-13.
Ravens-Steelers: 8:15 p.m. (ET), NBC
Meanwhile, the Ravens-Steelers should be another good game as most of their matchups are. The Chiefs have not played the Ravens this season but their victory over the Chargers in Week 17 helped push Baltimore into the postseason, which led to this tweet:
Thank you, thank you, thank you @KCChiefs!— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 28, 2014
The Steelers are playing excellent football right now. The Chiefs lost to them in Week 16 thanks to four Chiefs red zone trips without a touchdown. The Ravens won't make that mistake but they still can't keep up with Pittsburgh. There won't be enough Joe Flacco magic this year. I got 30-24 Steelers over Ravens.
The rest of Wild Card weekend
Sunday, January 4
NFL Divisional round
Saturday, January 10
AFC: Baltimore/Cincinnati/Pittsburgh/Indianapolis at New England Patriots (NBC, 3:35 p.m.)
NFC: Detroit/Arizona/Carolina at Seattle Seahawks (FOX, 7:15 p.m.)
Sunday, January 11
NFC: Dallas/Carolina/Arizona at Green Bay Packers (FOX, 12:05 p.m.)
AFC: Cincinnati/Pittsburgh/Indianapolis at Denver Broncos (CBS, 3:40 p.m.)
Sunday, January 18
NFC: FOX, 2:05 p.m.
AFC: CBS, 5:40 p.m.