After weeks of complaining about 8-8 records, I open the playoffs with a marvelous 1-3 showing. After months of complaining about the NFC West, the Seahawks turn in a performance for the ages. Go figure.
Before we get into this week's picks, let's take a quick look at my genius playoff predictions that were proven after just one week.
Obviously, those didn't turn out so well, and neither did last week's picks, but I'm no quitter.
(Home team in caps.)
PITTSBURGH (-3) over Baltimore
No matter who wins this game, you have to believe it's going to be decided by 3 points. In their 30 meetings, the Steelers have averaged 20 points and the Ravens have averaged 18. That's nutty.
Also nutty is Terrelle Suggs, who popped up on people's Twitter feeds Wednesday wearing a shirt that featured a raven flipping the bird to Pittsburgh.
Neither of those things will necessarily have an effect on Saturday afternoon's game, but I'm sticking with my guns on Joe Flacco not being outstanding. Even with his performance last week, he's still averaging just 154 passing yards per game in the playoffs. With Troy Polamalu running wild, that will be relevant this week, I swear.
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week's Picks: "I'm not sold on Joe Flacco in a big game. In his five-game playoff career, he's 3-2 but has completed just 47.5 percent of his passes for one touchdown, six interceptions and an average of 110 yards per game. Even Mark Sanchez can top that."
Note: Flacco threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns, had a rating of 115.4 and was clearly the best quarterback in Kansas City on Sunday. Whoops.
ATLANTA (-2.5) over Green Bay
Down the stretch, the Packers struggled to put together strong efforts in consecutive weeks. Beat the Vikes by 28, lose to Falcons by 3. Beat the Niners by 18, get held to a field goal against the Lions and then lose a winnable game in New England. They crushed the Giants in Week 16 and just eked out a win over Chicago in Week 17 in a game that was hard-fought and even harder to watch.
I'm thinking that trend continues, especially with a well-rested Falcons team waiting in Atlanta. After a 1-3 week that had me banking on the likes of Matt Cassel and Mark Sanchez, looking at Matt Ryan feels like I'm looking at a combo of Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana.
RQFLWP: "The only reason people are picking Green Bay is because they probably picked them in the preseason to win the Super Bowl and figure they might as well stay consistent."
Note: Or they were picking them because they are the only team good enough to devise a game plan to neutralize Michael Vick. One or the other.
CHICAGO (-10) over Seattle
The Seahawks made believers out of some people, but not me. What I watched on Saturday afternoon was one of the most disgusting three hours of football to ever take place in the month of January. They were playing at home and they were playing a Saints team that looked ready for the offseason. They won't be welcomed so warmly in Chicago.
And if the Seahawks lose, they lose big. Really big. Like, losing by 21.2 points big.
Now, the Bears only won their 11 games by an average margin of 9.5 points, but, well, if I have to pick one of those trends to continue, I'm going with the Seahawks losing. It's just kind of my thing.
RQFLWP: "Everyone is taking the Saints, which sometimes can be a bad sign. Not this time."
Note: At least I can live with the fact that if I could go back in time, I would take the Saints 10 times out of 10.
NEW ENGLAND (-8.5) over New York Jets
Four favorites, I know, but it's hard to pick against the Pats here. One rather large reason is the quarterback matchup.
Mark Sanchez, in two career starts at Gillette Stadium: 25-for-54 (46) percent, one touchdown, seven interceptions, average of 150 yards.
Frankly, that's enough for me, but I'll go on. I was thinking about Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie earlier this week, and I was trying to guess what Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine were going to do with their cornerbacks. I figured that it would take a pretty masterful scheme for them to try to limit the damage Tom Brady did while using Wes Welker and Deion Branch. I figured that maybe, if they put together the game plan of their lives, they could at least do a better job than they did in December. But then I thought about Aaron Hernandez. And then I thought about Danny Woodhead. And Rob Gronkowski.
And then I realized the Jets don't have a chance.
Last week: 1-3
Regular season: 131-120-5
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