Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson return to pick another slate of games that stretches across several sports.
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide helpline at 1-800-522-4700.
No. 13 Purdue vs. Nebraska (no line yet)
BV: The Boilermakers look to me like one of the top five teams in the country. Huskers will have their hands full on the road. PICK: Purdue 72, Nebraska 56
GS: This one is tough for Nebraska. They keep it close in the first half but Purdue flexes their muscles in the second. PICK: Purdue 76, Nebraska 61
JP: Purdue is the clear No. 2 team in the Big Ten for me with the ability to both pound it inside and rain 3s from the perimeter. If Nebraska can keep this game competitive (unlike they did against Michigan State), I’d consider that a sign of progress. PICK: Purdue 79, Nebraska 68
DP: If this one was in PBA, I’d feel a little better about the Huskers’ chances, but Purdue is 10-0 in Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers are also ninth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Those two don’t make a good recipe for an upset for Nebraska. PICK: Purdue 67, Nebraska 52
Kansas City (-9) vs. Tennessee
BV: The Chiefs’ offense will be too much in the end, but expect the Titans to hang around in this one. PICK: Kansas City 27, Tennessee 20
GS: This line feels way to high given the Chiefs history in the playoffs. They win, but no way they cover 9. PICK Kansas City 28, Tennessee 24
JP: The Chiefs have been incredibly up-and-down this season, but the Titans don’t inspire a ton of confidence either. Alex Smith is probably not going to be back in Kansas City next year no matter what happens, so I’m all for him making a playoff run on his way out. PICK: Chiefs 27, Titans 20
DP: As I have spent most of my Sundays sleeping or watching bad-but-fun NBA bottom-feeders on League Pass, I didn’t even know Tennessee was in the postseason. My picks for this NFL slate won’t be based on actual football reasons. It’ll be cold, so I’ll take the Chiefs at home. PICK: Kansas City 24, Tennessee 14
Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) vs. Atlanta
BV: There has to be at least one upset on wildcard weekend. This is the one. PICK: Atlanta 24, Los Angeles 21
GS: I like the Rams to keep their improbable season alive. PICK: Los Angeles 23, Atlanta 17
JP: Still not used to the Rams being in Los Angeles, and I’m even less used to them being good. Still, this has the potential to be a really fun game and I think the Rams will pull it out in a close one. PICK: Los Angeles 31, Atlanta 28
DP: I’m going to pick against the Rams if only because they decided to revert to white and navy on the helmets and NOT do it for the rest of the uniform. Be better L.A. PICK: Atlanta 31, Los Angeles 23
Jacksonville (-9) vs. Buffalo
BV: My heart says Buffalo, my brain says Jacksonville but the line is too high. PICK: Jacksonville 28, Buffalo 21
GS: Upset special! It will forever be hard for me to trust Blake Bortles. PICK: Buffalo 20, Jacksonville 17
JP: Shady McCoy’s status for the game is up in the air and Jacksonville's defense is for real. That’s not a good combination for the Bills. PICK: Jacksonville 21, Buffalo 14
DP: I still can’t get over the fact Blake Bortles is a playoff quarterback. PICK: Jacksonville 27, Buffalo 17
New Orleans (-7) vs. Carolina
BV: Laissez les bons temps rouler. PICK: New Orleans 31, Carolina 24
GS: What Brandon said. PICK: New Orleans 35, Carolina 21
JP: It’s always tough to beat a good team three times in one season, but I believe the Saints have enough talent to do so. With that running game and defense and Drew Brees still behind center in the big moments, the Saints have what it takes to make a deep run. PICK: New Orleans 34, Carolina 24
DP: I’ve seen more tweets about Alvin Kamara roll across my timeline this season than any other player. That’s probably worth something. PICK: New Orleans 35, Carolina 21
No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 4 Alabama (-3.5)
BV: I’ll be rooting for Georgia, but you just can’t pick against the Tide in a game like this. PICK: Alabama 21, Georgia 17
GS: This game is really hard to pick. I don’t like picking against Saban but I think Georgia has the better team. I’ll go with my gut and say this is the start of the UGA dynasty. PICK Georgia 17, Alabama 13
JP: Considering how many people don’t think Alabama deserved to be in the playoff in the first place, it’s only right that the Tide rolls all the way to the championship, right? PICK: Alabama 24, Georgia 21
DP: Call it personal bias, call it “Bama hate,” call it being disappointed in the end results on behalf of a certain Florida-based team, call it whatever, I just can’t bring myself to pick Alabama. PICK: Georgia 21, Alabama 20
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.