Part of the joy of football for me are the storylines. I like scrappy underdogs. I like guys having late-career excellence. I like unstoppable forces and unmovable objects. I like the chess matches going on between coaches, between the lines, between individual players.
That’s why I want to see the Giants go on a tear. I want to see them run the table and make the most improbable playoff run in their long, storied history of improbable playoff runs. I want to see the Steelers firm up and go for it. I really want to see the Browns do something…anything. (Though their QB situation makes that unlikely.) I want Peyton Manning to hoist that trophy one more time.
Maybe none of that will happen. But that’s why they play the games.
On with the picks! (Winners in italics.):
Carolina at Tampa Bay: The Bucs’ ship has sailed. The Panthers get to sharpen their claws.
Dallas at Detroit: The Lannisters are flawed, but they’re angry.
Cleveland at Kansas City: The Browncoats’ boat doesn’t have a real captain.
Miami at New England: The Empire strikes back after a loss to the Jets, and the Fins are a perfect foil.
Buffalo at New Orleans: There’s no voodoo in the French Quarter that can help the Bills here.
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia: Hear that? It’s the sound of redemption against a weak defense and a questionable offense.
San Francisco vs. Jacksonville in London: The Jags’ owner has been seen in Diagon Alley shopping for some mojo.
N.Y. Jets at Cincinnati: No matter the opponent, the Jets haven’t proven they can win two in a row.
Pittsburgh at Oakland: Beware the Steelers. They’re starting to click.
Washington at Denver: Peyton Manning is angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry. He’s also really, really, frighteningly good.
Atlanta at Arizona: Bomb bird vs. red bird. We know how this ends.
Green Bay at Minnesota: Only Loki could find a path to victory for the Vikings.
Seattle at St. Louis: The Rams’ season went the way of the Rebel base on Hoth after Sam Bradford’s injury.
Last week’s record: 10-5
Season record: 71-35