NFL Playoff Picks: Will the Vikings Advance to the Divisional?

The Pros and Cons of Another Kirk Cousins Extension in 2023
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The regular season has concluded, but that doesn’t mean the picks are done. In fact, if anything, they’ve just become more important. Today, we’ll be making our NFL playoff picks for every Wild Card game this weekend. Before we get started, though, here are the picks from Week 18:

  • Jaguars -6.5 (L)
  • Jaguars/Titans O40 points (L)
  • Steelers -2.5 (W)
  • Vikings -7.5 (W)
  • Vikings/Bears U43 points (W)
  • Cardinals +14 (L)
  • Lions +4.5 (W)

Season Record: 60-62-5

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: 49ers -9.5
  • Seahawks ML: +395
  • 49ers ML: -500
  • O/U: 42.5 points

Frey’s Pick: 49ers -9.5

The 49ers have all the momentum heading into this game after closing the regular season on a 10-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Seahawks barely snuck by the Los Angeles Rams in order to get their spot in the playoffs and floundered to a 3-5 record over their final eight games.

Brock Purdy may be “Mr. Irrelevant”, but the 49ers aren’t winning because he’s been especially great. They are winning because they have star talent all over the field, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Pete Carroll is a great coach in the NFL, but I don’t think even he can overcome this matchup.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) takes to the field before the game of an NFL football regular season matchup AFC South division title game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jaguars held off the Tennessee Titans 20-16. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] Jki 230106 Titans Jags Cp 93
  • Spread: Chargers -2.5
  • Chargers ML: -144
  • Jaguars: ML: +124
  • O/U: 47.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Jaguars +2.5

The Jacksonville Jaguars very quietly had a top 10 scoring offense this season, and their defense finished 12th in points allowed per game. Much of this had to do with their dominant play down the stretch of the season.

Over the final five weeks, Jacksonville allowed 25 or fewer points on four occasions. Meanwhile, their offense scored 25 or more points in three of those games. Trevor Lawrence has played much better football in recent weeks, and Travis Etienne has emerged as a terrific running back this year.

On the other side, of course, you can’t count out Justin Herbert. He has been fabulous once again this year. However, the Chargers inexplicably played their starters in Week 18, and it led to injuries to both Mike Williams and Joey Bosa.

Bosa looks like he’ll be ready to return, but Williams has not practiced at all this week ahead of the game. If Herbert doesn’t have all his weapons for this game, it becomes a lot harder for the Chargers to win. I’m riding with Duval County this weekend.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) high fives fans after the Bills defeated the Detroit Lions 28-25 at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022.
  • Spread: Bills -13
  • Dolphins ML: +520
  • Bills ML: -700
  • O/U: 43.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Bills -13

This spread is absolutely massive for any NFL game, but especially for a playoff game. That being said, the Dolphins won’t be playing Tua Tagovailoa at QB, and in his place, Skylar Thompson looks like the guy under center. Additionally, Raheem Mostert broke his thumb against the Jets, and he’s questionable for this game.

Miami had some massive struggles all over the field down the stretch of the season. Obviously, their offense slows down without Tua, but the Miami defense also allowed 27.4 points per game during their five-game losing streak from Weeks 13-17.

Meanwhile, the Bills ranked 2nd in points per game at 28.4, and their defense allowed just 17.9 points per game, which also ranked 2nd. Buffalo just beat this team with Tua a few weeks ago, and without him in the lineup, the Bills should dominate this matchup.

New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings

The No. 3 Seed Vikings Will Play Host to the No. 6 Seed Giants
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Vikings -3
  • Giants ML: +141
  • Vikings ML: -161
  • O/U: 48 points

Frey’s Pick: Vikings -3

If anyone has a road upset for this week, it’s probably the Giants over the Vikings. It makes sense. These two teams played just a few weeks ago, and the Vikings narrowly came out on top after a Greg Joseph 61-yard field goal.

However, the Vikings can pass all over this Giants defense. Last time these two teams met up, T.J. Hockenson and Justin Jefferson lit New York’s defense up for a combined 25 catches, 242 yards, and 3 TDs.

New York also does not force turnovers, ranking 25th in turnovers forced and 32nd in interceptions. Kirk Cousins should be able to find Hockenson and Jefferson whenever he wants once again, and if the Vikings defense can force turnovers again, they should be able to control this game.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Bengals -8.5
  • Ravens ML: +320
  • Bengals ML: -400
  • O/U: 40.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Bengals -8.5

The Ravens have not made a decision on whether or not Lamar Jackson is going to play, but he is still not practicing because of his knee injury. Jackson hasn’t played since leaving Week 13’s game, and in that time since, Baltimore has not scored 20 points in a game.

They’ve remained competitive because of their defensive prowess, but just this past week, the Bengals won this very matchup by a score of 27-16. Cincinnati simply has too strong an offense for Baltimore to hang around, and if Tyler Huntley is the QB again, the Bengals defense will show out again.

Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • Spread: Cowboys -2.5
  • Cowboys ML: -139
  • Buccaneers ML: +119
  • O/U: 45.5 points

Frey’s Pick: Cowboys -2.5

Every Wild Card weekend has at least one road team going into someone’s house and winning, and we will finally get there on Monday night. Dallas certainly didn’t close this season on a strong note, losing to the Commanders by 20 points in Week 18.

That being said, Dallas is a much better team than these 8-9 Buccaneers. Tom Brady is still a good quarterback, but Tampa’s offensive line is going to find themselves with an impossible task against Dallas’ pass rush.

Leonard Fournette was the main reason that the Buccaneers beat the Cowboys in Week 1, carrying 20 times for 127 yards. Fournette has broken 70 yards just once in the games since then. If the Buccaneers can’t rely on a terrific running game this weekend, Dallas could run away with this game.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro-Football-Reference helped with this piece

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.