NFL Wildcard Saturday — Picks, Plays & Playoff Sim!

Zack Nicol
4 min readJan 15, 2022


PLAYOFFS! Let’s do it. Full playoff simulation below, followed by my picks, plays and evaluation for the Saturday games. Enjoy!

Model Z Ranks by Playoff Team (with current inactives, 14 total teams):
Key: 👑=1st ,🔥=2nd-4th , 🤢=11th-13th , 💩=14th

Arizona Cardinals: OVR 12th🤢, OFF 13th🤢, DEF 10th
Buffalo Bills: OVR 8th, OFF 10th, DEF 12th🤢
Cincinnati Bengals: OVR 10th, OFF 6th, DEF 12th🤢
Dallas Cowboys: OVR 3rd🔥, OFF 1st👑, DEF 11th🤢
Green Bay Packers: OVR 1st👑, OFF 3rd🔥, DEF 2nd🔥
Kansas City Chiefs: OVR 7th, OFF 5th, DEF 8th
LA Rams: OVR 9th, OFF 8th, DEF 6th
Las Vegas Raiders: OVR 13th🤢, OFF 12th🤢, DEF 14th💩
New England Patriots: OVR 4th🔥, OFF 9th, DEF 1st👑
Philadelphia Eagles: OVR 11th🤢, OFF 11th🤢, DEF 9th
Pittsburgh Steelers: OVR 14th💩, OFF 14th💩, DEF 13th🤢
San Francisco 49ers: OVR 5th, OFF 7th, DEF 3rd
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OVR 2nd🔥, OFF 2nd🔥, DEF 4th🔥
Tennessee Titans: OVR 6th, OFF 4th🔥, DEF 7th

4:30 PM ET

Model Z Projection: CIN -6.5, 54.56 Total
Straight Up Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
Spread Pick: CIN -4.5⭐⭐⭐
O/U Pick: Under 48.5⭐
Zack’s Plays:
- Mixon to score & CIN +3.5 Alt Spread (+100)
- Mixon 80+ Rushing Yards (+114)
- Mixon 100+ Rushing Yards & to score 2x (+820)
- Mixon over 18.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
- Burrow 275+ Passing Yards (+122)
- Josh Jacobs 60+ Rushing Yards (-102)
- Josh Jacobs to score (+100)
- Waller to score (+185)
- LV under 21.5 Points (-110)
LV Inactives: IDL3 Darius Philon
CIN Inactives: None!

Zack’s “Quick” Rundown: I like Cincy here. This spread has dropped from -6.5 since Monday and I haven’t heard why. At one point this season, I was all about this Raiders secondary as they had a few guys in the top 5 on PFF. But that has changed and they are now middle-of-the-pack when it comes to pass defense. Also, according to the Model Z, LV vRB is the easiest matchup for all positions and playoff teams, so I am banking on a big Mixon game.
Added at 10:30am: Just saw that Derek Carr is 0–6 straight up and 17 or fewer points in games 37 degrees or colder, and it will be tonight. Adding a confidence star to the Bengals and adding a play or two as well.

8:15 PM ET

Model Z Projection: NE -1, 46.07 Total
Straight Up Pick: New England Patriots
Spread Pick: NE +4.5⭐⭐⭐
O/U Pick: Under 44⭐⭐
Zack’s Plays:
- NE +4.5 (-110)
- NE ML (+190)
- Harris to score (+115)
- Harris over 58.5 Rushing Yards (-113)
- Hunter Henry over 3.5 Receptions (+124)
- Allen Under 237.5 Passing Yards (-110)
- Diggs Under 68.5 Receiving Yards (-110)
- Mac Jones Under 197.5 Passing Yards (-110)
NE Inactives: LT Isaiah Wynn (the line may shuffle around to max talent, see below), CB2 Jalen Mills
BUF Inactives: None!

Zack’s “Quick” Rundown: Weather. Looks like the forecast is 4 degrees in Orchard Park with light winds. See below for Josh Allen’s cold game history. Not great, and this is ~30 degrees colder! So which Run game vs Run D matchup is better? Pats by far. If game was in a dome, I’d give it to Buffalo because Josh Allen is the best player on the field, but I’m going with the narrative here. Patriots winning this one outright.
By the way, NE LT Isaiah Wynn (84/100 ZRating, 33rd of 84 on PFF) is out for this game which could be a factor, but I think the Pats OLine depth will cover it. Technically they could shuffle RT Trent Brown (88/100 ZRating, 20th of 85 on PFF) to LT, OG Michael Onwenu (97/100 ZRating, 3rd of 84 on PFF) to RT where he has played before, and Ted Karras (89/100 ZRating, 16th of 84 on PFF) to LG. That results the 2nd best OLine in the league in my model. We’ll see what they end up doing,



Zack Nicol

Geaux Tigers. Go Mavs. Go Pats. Go Stars. Go Rangers. Go BlueClaws.