Minnesota Vikings (+7) at San Francisco 49ers: The Niners were the NFL's hottest team the first half the season, starting 8-0. However, they went 5-3 their final eight contests with seven of those games being decided in the final minute of regulation or in overtime. But they're getting healthy at the right time as DE Dee Ford and LB Kwon Alexander look to return to a defense ranked second in the NFL in terms of yards allowed.
As a Vikings fan, I absolutely did not see that stalwart defensive performance coming against Drew Brees & Co. last week. If that D can rattle Brees, then certainly 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have his work cut out for him given his interior O-line is pretty banged up. On the offensive side of the ball for the Vikings, they will likely go with another heavy dose of RB Dalvin Cook against a San Francisco defense which allowed 4.5 yards per carry. Given the Niners allowed a paltry 169 yards passing per game, QB Kirk Cousins will only have success if the Vikes are running effectively. There are few quarterbacks better in play action than Cousins
The last time the Vikes won a dramatic playoff game against the New Orleans Saints (The Minneapolis Miracle two years ago) they laid an egg the following week in the NFC title game. Players and coaches reminded themselves of that immediately after Sunday's win, so I expect a far more competitive effort here.
San Francisco 24 Minnesota 21
Tennessee Titans (+10) at Baltimore Ravens: After knocking out of the postseason the most dominant team of the past two decades, the Titans now have the task of taking on what many consider the best team in the NFL this season.
The only chance Tennessee has to prevail is to pound rushing champ Derrick Henry down the collective throats of the Ravens' defense. Sure, Baltimore ranked fifth in the NFL in terms of total rush yards allowed. However, that's a bit misleading since the Ravens won a lot of games handily, so opponents often had to abandon the run earlier than they preferred. So the goal for the Titans is to keep Ravens' stud QB (and likely 2019 MVP) Lamar Jackson off the field. But when he does emerge, Jackson will likely do what he's done all year.
I have a feeling this will be close for a while but then the Ravens, who won their final 12 regular season games, will put it away.
Baltimore 34 Tennessee 20
Houston Texans (+10) at Kansas City Chiefs: The Texans allowed 356 yards offense to Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen last week, but managed to escape with the win. This week, Houston has to contend with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Good luck.
Kansas City 35 Houston 17
Seattle Seahawks (+5) at Green Bay Packers: The Seahawks are in the postseason mostly on the strength of their offense as opposed to the staunch defensive play which carried them to two Super Bowls in the 2010s. Meanwhile, the Packers have to be the most underwhelming 13-3 team in the history of the NFL.
Seattle was 7-1 on the road in the regular season while Green Bay posted that same 7-1 record at home, so something's gotta give. Weather shouldn't be a huge factor as the temperature will be in the 20s with no precipitation. I don't really have a good feel for this game so it's usually a safe bet to go with the home team, especially in Lambeau Field.
Green Bay 27 Seattle 24
My 2019 Postseason Record:
Against the Spread: 1-3
Straight Up: 1-3