This was one of the more memorable wildcard weekends I can remember. And picks wise, I went 7-5, with Brett Maher keeping me from a more respectable 8-4.
49ers 41, Seahawks 23
From the prediction: “This feels like a game that is 13-13 early in the second quarter, and gamblers start getting nervous, only to see it completely unravel for the Seahawks after a costly turnover or two.”
That’s the game it was. There will be plenty of time to discuss the 49ers – a team that couldn’t handle the 2022 Chicago Bears – but what a tremendous season for Pete Carroll and Geno Smith. Seattle’s over/under win total this season was 5.5. They won nine games, and Smith’s play creates off-season flexibility for them. If they identify a franchise quarterback in this draft, they’re well-positioned to select him. But it’s not a necessity for them in 2023.
Jaguars 31, Chargers 30
From the prediction: “Doug Pederson is a big game guy and Brandon Staley has absolutely no in-game feel. The latter will make a head-scratching decision (he always does) to decide this contest.”
Analytics should be a complementary tool in football. They should not be the primary tool. Football is a game of emotion, coached with feel. The numbers may say “go for two here” but as a coach, you have to know if your team has struggled in short yardage, or if your quarterback is struggling with confidence issues, etc. Brandon Staley received heaps of praise from young football writers because they saw him as an analytical savior, going for every fourth down even when it cost his team games. Staley has zero in-game feel and that was evident Saturday night. After going up 27-0, the Chargers called eight run plays. Eight. Staley is a coach that will win games, and constantly be in the postseason, because he’s got one of the best quarterbacks in the sport. But in the postseason, where every decision is magnified, he’ll always be outmatched.