The Ravens looked like the best team in the world last week. So did the Jets. So did the Cowboys.
So keeping that in mind, it's important to be wary of playoff bandwagons. It's equally important the teams that watched last week's games while wearing sweatpants on the couch enjoyed their weeks off for a reason. The Vikings, Saints, Colts and Chargers were the class of the league from start to finish this year, no matter how well a team played last week.
(Home team in caps.)
NEW ORLEANS (-7) over Arizona
Last week, everyone complained that the weekend's games were too boring. That was until the Cardinals-Packers game came on and the two teams did their best impressions of the Madden versions of themselves. It was bombs away, until the facemask heard 'round the world put an end to the Packers' season. It also marked the worst night of this guy's life.
This week, it should once again be bombs away, but guess what? New Orleans can play a little defense. There have been a number of arguments made for the Cardinals in this one, but really, it's just not worth thinking about. Yes, the numbers for Green Bay's defense didn't help them win last week, nor will the defensive numbers of New Orleans this week. But with doubt filling the land after the Saints mailed it in at the end of the year, there's just no way they don't come out flying in front of one of the most raucous crowds in the league.
And the fans will be ready. This is just their third playoff home game this decade (they beat the Rams 31-28 in the 2000 season and beat the Eagles 27-24 in 2006, though Reggie Bush probably doesn't remember), so these fans will be bringing the atmosphere they had against New England earlier this season.
Whatever the outcome, you won't be calling this one boring.
INDIANAPOLIS (-6.5) over Baltimore
The Ravens' win over the Patriots was big, but "historic upset"? Methinks not. From the city that was home to Edgar Allen Poe, I'd expect a little bit better writing.
In any case, as is the situation with the Cardinals, there will be a lot of folks riding the Ravens this weekend. And while a Baltimore win wouldn't be shocking, unfortunately, the Baltimore Sun headline writers have already eliminated their chances. If the Ravens came out on top, what could the headline be? How can you beat historical? You can't.
In reality, the Colts won't spot the Ravens 21 points before half of the fans even find their seats. The Colts needed their rest last week, and they got it. I know that Indy's run defense is atrocious (126.5 yards per game), but they can score at will.
MINNESOTA (-3) over Dallas
It's amazing how a bye week makes everybody cool on a good team. The Vikings are really only a three-point favorite at home in the playoffs? Four weeks ago, weren't we all questioning the Cowboys while handing the NFC crown over to the Vikings?
Just as the Colts won't be kind enough to climb into a 21-point hole against the Ravens, the Vikings won't be willing to hand over four turnovers to Dallas, like the Eagles did a week ago. Also consider that the Cowboys are 1-2 in their last three difficult road wins (winning in Washington doesn't count). They beat the Eagles in Philly in mid-November, only to lose ugly the next week in Green Bay and lose by a touchdown at Giants Stadium. I'm just not ready to believe they can win on the road against a well-rested Vikings team.
New York Jets (+7) over SAN DIEGO
Yeah, I talked about playoff bandwagons and then go ahead and jump on the biggest wagon out there … but hear me out.
The Chargers' offense is predicated on deep heaves to giant receivers — and it works. They can't run the ball (31st in the NFL), but they don't really need to. What this game will come down to is Darrelle Revis and the Jets' secondary stealing a pass or two from Phil Rivers (it's really time to drop the "ip" from the end of his name, but I suppose that's an argument for another day).
Do I believe the Jets will win the Super Bowl? Of course not, but if they can have a solid first quarter of football, they'll be able to keep this one close. Just like Rex Ryan does with Mark Sanchez, it's not the worst thing to keep expectations low.
Last week: 1-3
Regular season: 134-119-3