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PFT's 2023 NFL Wild Card Picks

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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It’s wild weekend. In fact, the league prefers that we call it the “super wildcard weekend.” Which is something I won’t do, mainly because they want me to.

I don’t want to call it a wildcard weekend either, because it’s not. In the old days, teams that didn’t win their divisions (fourth and fifth seeds) played each other. In 1990, the field expanded to six, with a division winner in each conference facing the last team. In 2002, the realignment resulted in two division winners playing two wildcards.

Now it’s three past three. So it’s not a wild card weekend anymore. It’s just the first round of the playoffs.

And here are our picks for the first round of the playoffs.

By the way, last week I went 11-5. MDS was 12-4.

I finished the regular season at 178-91-2. MDS was 169-100-2.

Seahawks (+10) on 49ers

MDS opinion: How many people predicted before the season that Geno Smith v Brock Purdy would be a playoff match? Smith leading the Seahawks to the playoffs has been a great story, but the story comes to an end on Sunday when the 49ers defense goes to close Smith, but Purdy and the 49ers offense should have a great game.

choice of MDS: 49ers 30, Seahawks 13.

florio’s take: The 49ers are the best team. But the Seahawks are not intimidated by the best team in football, as they know each other well. The weather will help keep it closed, but the 49ers should go through to the next round.

florio’s choice: 49ers 27, Seahawks 21.

Chargers (-2) on Jaguars

MDS opinion: It’s great news in Jacksonville that they are hosting a playoff game in Trevor Lawrence’s sophomore year and Doug Pederson’s first. But Justin Herbert will have a great game in his playoff debut as the Chargers win.

choice of MDS: Chargers 27, Jaguars 20.

florio’s take: Jacksonville destroyed the Chargers in week three. And that was before the Jaguars evolved into the team they are now – poised, effective, confident, successful. Add in the fact that they are the underdogs, and that should be enough to push them to the top.

florio’s choice: Jaguars 24, Chargers 21.

Dolphins (+13) in Bills

MDS opinion: Had Tua Tagovailoa been healthy, this would be an intriguing first-round matchup. Without Tua, it’s hard to see the Dolphins stay close to a Bills team that is strong at every stage of the game.

choice of MDS: Bills 28, Dolphins 13.

Florio’s opinion: Josh Allen vs Skylar Thompson. Sometimes, you don’t need to say anything else.

Florio’s choice: Bills 34, dolphins 17.

Giants (+3) to Vikings

MDS opinion: Brian Daboll taking that roster to the playoffs was a major achievement for the coach, but the Giants’ run ends on Sunday. The Vikings have been winning close games all year and will do so again.

choice of MDS: Vikings 21, Giants 20.

florio’s take: As long as they are alive in the playoffs, the Vikings will win by 2-4 points or lose 20-40.

florio’s choice: Vikings 24, Giants 22.

Ravens (+8.5) at Bengals

MDS opinion: If Lamar Jackson was 100 percent healthy, I’d be tempted to pick the Ravens to pull the upset. Without Jackson, the Bengals should go on to win.

choice of MDS: Bengals 28, Ravens 17.

florio’s take: The Bengals have a rock on their shoulder over the way the rules were changed, not changed, in regards to canceling their Week 17 game against the Bills. They beat the Ravens in Week 18. They’ll do it again in the first round of the playoffs.

florio’s choice: Bengals 30, Ravens 20.

Cowboys (-2.5) to Buccaneers

MDS opinion: The Cowboys’ Week 18 performance didn’t inspire much confidence, but I expect them to play well enough to defeat a Buccaneers team that hasn’t inspired much confidence all season.

choice of MDS: Cowboys 20, Buccaneers 16.

florio’s take: Tom Brady has 47 career playoff games. This will be number 48. Win or lose, it’s possibly his last game in Tampa. The Cowboys, meanwhile, seem to have peaked too soon. Why are they favored?

florio’s choice: Buccaneers 19, Cowboys 16.