NFL Wild Card Weekend game picks: Saints edge out Panthers

Those guys weren't even supposed to be there ...

It was late December back in 1996, and the upstart Jaguars found themselves taking on the Bills at Rich Stadium in Buffalo. Forget that they were a second-year expansion team -- they wouldn't have even made it to Wild Card Weekend had it not been for one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history (Morten Andersen, i.e., Vinatieri before Vinatieri) missing a gimme field goal in Week 17. Jacksonville was not even the new team fans were paying attention to, as the Panthers' mix of veteran free agents landed them a first-round bye. With that as the backdrop, call it any word one tick below shocking when Jacksonville handed Buffalo its pink slip. Not just any exit, either. This was the last hurrah for a Bills team coached by Marv Levy, with Jim Kelly under center and the rest of a nucleus that had reached four straight Super Bowls. No matter. The Jags put a 30-spot on them before advancing all the way to the AFC Championship Game.

After the wild-card win, much of postgame chatter was about left tackle Tony Boselli, who stonewalled Hall of Famer Bruce Smith time and again. Fellow Hall of Famer Walter Jones, who was a Florida State tackle at the time, told me he watched the game in admiration, calling Boselli "the premier technician." Natrone Means piled up 175 yards rushing behind Boselli and Co. -- and an even sweeter visor. Second-year head coach Tom Coughlin walked off the field of his first playoff game a winner. He did the same in a Divisional Round win at Denver, before Jacksonville ultimately fell in New England against Bill Parcells' Patriots -- a group that included a defensive assistant by the name of Bill Belichick.

If all goes well Sunday, Coughlin will see the Jacksonville team he now manages from the front office take one step closer to getting another crack at Belichick and the Patriots. (FYI: Coughlin did get the best of Belichick a few times in his Giants tenure. Just a reminder.)

Going over to the other conference ...

All of the games -- and their forthcoming results -- are detailed below. The Titans and Chiefs kick off Wild Card Weekend, but everyone I've talked to is really looking forward to Saturday night at the L.A. Coliseum. Always look forward to your thoughts: @HarrisonNFL is the place.

Now, let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-6 on his predictions for Week 17, giving him a record of 166-90 thus far this season. How will he fare in Wild Card Weekend? His picks are below:

SATURDAY'S GAMES

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonNFL.

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