NFL picks: Chiefs host Dolphins in bitter cold to begin playoffs

Jan. 12—The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers drew the top seeds in their respective conferences and earned a bye to begin the NFL postseason.

The Kanas City Chiefs knew the third seed was theirs going into Week 18; it was just a matter of finding out who they would be welcoming into Arrowhead Stadium. After the Miami Dolphins lost to the Buffalo Bills last week, that meant the Dolphins were playing the Chiefs.

It will be cold and windy with temperatures dropping below zero. These types of conditions usually benefit the team with the better rushing attack. That would mean that the Dolphins have a major advantage as the sixth-best rushing team in the NFL this year, with the Chiefs just 19th.

The Chiefs still have the most talented player on the field in Patrick Mahomes. But the Dolphins could have the player with the most impact on the field if they can find creative ways to get the ball into Tyreek Hill's hands on Saturday night.

Kansas City's defense ranks second in yards allowed per game while Miami is 10th. And KC allows just 17.3 points per game — also second best — while the Dolphins are 22nd at 23 ppg.

Just like in Germany, I expect this game to come down to the wire. KC won that game.

Let's look at the entire slate of Super Wild Card Weekend:


—3:30 p.m. on NBC, No. 4 Texans (10-7) vs. No. 5 Browns (11-6): The Houston Texans have had a great season. This is a team that I expected to improve after the excellent draft it had. But I will admit I did not expect an AFC South division win and a playoff berth.

The Cleveland Browns are similar. I didn't expect much from this team in a tough AFC North division and didn't trust Deshaun Watson. After Watson's injury, I was really out on this team. But its defense kept everything afloat, and the 38-year-old Joe Flacco has been all the Browns could've asked for and more.

I will take the team with a better defense and a veteran leader under center.

BROWNS 30-20. —7 p.m. on Peacock, No. 3 Chiefs (11-6) vs. No. 6 Dolphins (11-6): What a disgrace. The NFL doesn't care enough about its fans and viewership to put a playoff game on national television where anyone can watch? Looking forward to the story next week that says 30,000 fans subscribed to Peacock this weekend only to unsubscribe from the streaming service on Sunday or Monday morning to take advantage of the "free trial."

The Chiefs have been underwhelming on offense this year. They've made up for that by shockingly good on defense all year. Fans have blamed Taylor Swift for the struggles. They've blamed the receivers for drops. Let's just call it what it is: This offense isn't as good.

The Dolphins have had an electric offense all season. Their defense is OK. Their problem is playing good teams. And in the playoffs, you always play good teams. Miami was just 1-5 against playoff teams in the regular season. And Kansas City won the matchup back in November.

Chiefs score late to win this one.

CHIEFS 21-20.


—Noon on CBS,No. 2 Bills (11-6) vs. No. 7 Steelers (10-7): This one's pretty easy. The Bills are rolling and are probably the hottest team in the NFL right now. The Steelers don't belong here, in my opinion.

I think Buffalo has too much offense for the Steelers to hang around. I think the Steelers defense can keep it close for a couple quarters at best.

BILLS 34-17. —3:30 p.m. on Fox,No. 2 Cowboys (12-5) vs. No. 7 Packers (9-8): Things are in a good spot in Wisconsin. I think Green Bay made the right choice to roll with Jordan Love at quarterback. A playoff spot in his first season as the starter is a success story.

With that being said, the team is not ready to pull off a first-round upset over a Dallas Cowboys team. Dallas allowed more than 20 points in only five games this season. The Packers have struggled offensively with 20 or more points in just eight of their 17 games. It is worth noting that they've come alive as of late by scoring 20-plus in six of the last eight games.

COWBOYS 33-18. —7 p.m. on NBC, No. 3 Lions (12-5) vs. No. 6 Rams (10-7): The Rams are rolling with four straight wins. Granted, the most recent one was with a lot of starters out so it doesn't mean much. Their last loss was in overtime against the best team in the AFC in the Ravens. Prior to that, Los Angeles had won three straight.

The Lions are a good team. The defense is solid. Jared Goff and the offense are difficult to stop. But I'm not ready to believe in this group in the postseason.

This will be a fun matchup between two quarterbacks against their former teams and with Matt Stafford returning to Detroit. Give me Stafford and the red-hot Rams.

RAMS 27-23. Monday —7:15 p.m. on ESPN,No. 4 Buccaneers (9-8) vs. No. 5 Eagles (11-6): The Eagles are struggling, and the Buccaneers have been winning. Tampa Bay has won five of its last six, while Philadelphia has lost five of its last six. I also want to point out the Buccaneers had to play Week 18 to clinch the postseason while the Eagles struggled again and decided to just bench the starters and accept the fifth seed.

The Buccaneers are at home and have the momentum.

BUCS 16-13. My regular season record was 162-110.