The first week of the NFL playoffs kicks off following what was one of the crazier seasons we’ve seen in a long time. The 2022 season, amongst other things, showed us that health and humanity is the most important aspect of football. On top of that, it was a year that truly embodied the phrase “any given Sunday” with several underdogs winning every single week. Without further ado lets jump into our NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks and kick off the weekend.
Seattle Seahawks (+375) at San Francisco 49ers (-500) – Saturday, 4:30 PM EST
After a blockbuster offseason that saw Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson traded to the Broncos, Seattle was destined for a rebound. Enter veteran Geno Smith. He came into Seattle and demolished his career highs en route to a 9-8 record and a Wild Card berth. The 32-year-old threw for over 4,200 yards and 30 touchdowns while posting a 100.9 quarterback rating. Previously, Geno Smith had shown glimpses of being a good starter in his first two seasons, but since 2014 has just been a glorified backup. On top of Smiths success, Seattle also had two 1,000-yard receivers this season in DK Metcalf (1,048) and Tyler Lockett (1,033).
Coming into their Wild Card matchup with San Francisco Saturday, Seattle’s playmakers will need to find a way to figure out this stingy 49er defense. Seattle’s defense has struggled this season, meaning this offense will need to score in bunches if they are going to punch a ticket to Philadelphia.
The biggest hole in the Seattle defense has been their 30th ranked play against the run. They have allowed just over 150 rushing yards per game this season and are set to face arguably the best back in the game in Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in last meeting between these two.
Seattle’s defense should feel confident as they enter Saturday after allowing just 22 points in their final two games of the season. They hung tough when it mattered and were able to squeak into the Playoffs with the 7th seed. McCaffrey will do his thing, but the key for this defense should be to force Brock Purdy to throw the ball. Seattle possesses a much better pass defense and will need to steal a couple possessions for their offense.
Seattle Seahawks Notable Injuries: DE Shelby Harris (Q), DT Al Woods (Q)
San Francisco enters the postseason as the hottest team in the NFL. Since acquiring running back Christian McCaffrey on October 20th, the 49ers have gone 10-1. McCaffrey has rushed for over 700 yards and six touchdowns in his 11 games as a Niner. He also pitched in 464 receiving yards and four touchdowns. The 49ers have managed all of this success while riding the hot hand of none other than their 3rd string quarterback, Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. Purdy stepped in after both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo both went down with season ending injuries. Purdy threw for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in the nine games he’s appeared in. Saturday will be his playoff debut.
The San Francisco defense is a huge reason why this team has managed to stay atop the standings this season. The Niners’ defense ranks 1st in both yards allowed per game (318.6) and points allowed per game (16.3). They are also stingy in the run game allowing just 77.7 yards per game. They are anchored by this season’s sacks leader, Nick Bosa (18.5). He is most likely a shoe in for Defensive Player of the Year, especially if San Fran makes a deep playoff run.
There are plenty of reasons for this team to feel confident as they head into Wild Card weekend.
San Francisco 49ers Notable Injuries: QB Jimmy Garoppolo (IR)
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks
The 49ers have beaten Seattle in both matchups this season. Saturday will be a chance for them to really make a statement. There is nothing more difficult in the NFL than beating a team three times in the same season. Geno Smith just put on the greatest display of his rocky NFL career and is ready to seize his moment. The moment is going to prove to be too big for Brock Purdy and Seattle is going to pull the enormous upset in San Francisco.
Final Score: Seattle 24 – San Francisco 20
Wicked Wager – Seattle ML (+375)
Wicked Player Prop – George Kittle Total Receiving Yards Under 43.5 (-115)
The Niners are rolling and doing so with Mr. Irrelevant at the helm. Even though Kittle has been scoring touchdowns at an insane rate, it has not translated to big yardage. For a guy with seven touchdowns over the last four games, you’d think that he’d have gone over 43.5 in all of those outings. However, he has only gone over this number six times this season, and only twice since their bye. Deebo Samuel is back, and the run game is clicking. Expect Kittle to go under this number against a scrappy Seahawks team that only gives up 211 yards per game through the air.
Anytime TD Scorer – Elijah Mitchell (+245) is back and scored twice last week, taking red zone work from CMC. He scores this week again.
Los Angeles Chargers (-130) at Jacksonville Jaguars (+110) – Saturday, 8:15 PM EST
The Chargers did not finish their regular season the way they had planned. Week 18 saw them lose to their mediocre AFC West division rival, the Denver Broncos. Despite the loss, they were still able to maintain that first Wild Card spot as Baltimore was unable to take care of business against Cincinnati.
Coming into this season, Los Angeles hoped to compete with Kansas City for the division title, but that dream fell a few games short. Regardless, this Chargers’ offense is dangerous and should be treated as such. Quarterback Justin Herbert threw for over 4,700 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. Technically, it was a down year after throwing for 5,000+ a year ago, but no one in Los Angeles is complaining about those stats.
This impressive performance is even after missing his WR1, Keenan Allen, for a month. Good thing that the Chargers’ offense possesses many other weapons. Austin Ekeler ran for 915 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding another 722 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns through the air. Additionally, wide receiver Mike Williams really picked up the slack this year for the injured Keenan Allen. He had a team high 895 receiving yards this season. This offense will need to be on their game as they face a hot Jaguars squad.
The Los Angeles run defense will need to overachieve as they face 1,000+ yard rusher in Travis Etienne on Saturday. The Chargers allowed just over 145 rushing yards per game, good for 28th in the NFL. The Chargers will rely heavily on Joey Bosa, who had an injury ridden season. Saturday will mark Bosa’s third consecutive game since returning from injury in week 17. A fresh Bosa could be a real issue for this young Jacksonville offense. The front seven of LA will need to make Trevor Lawrence as uncomfortable as possible if they are going to walk out of Jacksonville with a win.
Los Angeles Chargers Notable Injuries: WR Mike Williams (O)
The Jaguars are riding a 5-game heater that includes beating their rival Titans twice. Not to mention an upset over the Dallas Cowboys. If I am in Duvall County this week, I am feeling confident in my football team. Trevor Lawrence is finally looking like the quarterback we all expected him to be when he was drafted 1st overall in 2021. Lawrence threw for 4,113 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.
On top of that, Travis Etienne, his college teammate, ran for 1,100 yards in his second season. This offense is clicking at the right time. It’s clear that Jacksonville found the right coach to not only lead their football team, but to mentor their young star quarterback. Doug Pederson had a similar run in Philadelphia when he coached up Carson Wentz to an MVP caliber season during his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Jaguars’ defense will have their hands full Saturday night. They have not performed well against the pass this season, allowing 238.5 yards per game. This ranks 28th in the NFL. Jacksonville should feel confident though. They have allowed just 22 points combined in the final 3 games of the regular season. Jacksonville is tied for 4th with 27 takeaways which will be the ultimate decider in this game. The Jags will need to force Herbert to make forced throws and limit the dump offs to Austin Ekeler. Jacksonville’s offense will score points. This game will come down to how well this defensive line can get after Herbert.
Jacksonville Jaguars Notable Injuries: WR Jamal Agnew (LP)
Los Angeles Chargers vs Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks
Jacksonville is hot right now and Trevor Lawrence is playing the best football of his very young NFL career. Head Coach Doug Pederson’s aggressiveness and experience will be at the forefront of this game. The Jags will figure out a way to contain Justin Herbert. They will make it six straight wins as they punch a ticket to the Divisional Round.
Final Score: Jacksonville 31 – Los Angeles 24
Wicked Wager – Jacksonville ML (+110)
Wicked Player Prop: Trevor Lawrence Total Passing Yards Under 248.5 (-115)
The Jags run game is clicking, and Lawrence has shown us flashes of why he was the #1 pick. With a total on this game of 47.5, we can expect to see points, but that isn’t going to translate to yards through the air. The Chargers have been excellent against the pass this year, giving up only 200 yards per game. On top of that, Lawrence only went over this number eight times this season. Jacksonville will need to run the ball to control this game. Lawrence goes under this number on Saturday night.
Anytime TD Scorer – Keenan Allen (+123) is the #1 receiver on this team, and they happen to love throwing the ball in the redzone. Allen scores Saturday night.