Last week, shortly after I published my divisional picks, fellow author and football fan Wesley Chu let it be known he disagreed with my prognostication:
Now, last weekend’s picks were pretty conservative — higher-seeded home teams across the board — but I didn’t really see the upsets happening (and I was quite wrong about Denver over Indy). So when Wes suggested a Twitter bet on ‘Boys-Pack, I took him up on it, with the winner Tweeting nice things about the loser. The result:
That last one, man. That was awesome. That’s why Wes is a successful writer, because of creativity like that. (I have no comment about band camp.)
To be fair, I would’ve been the one singing his praises if Dez Bryant’s catch-that-wasn’t ended up being a catch, but saying good things about Wes is pretty easy because he’s good people. Wes has two books coming out this year: The Rebirths of Tao, which wraps up his excellent Tao trilogy, and Time Salvager, which promises to be just as awesome. Go pre-order those now — no really, now — then come back for my championship picks below.
Green Bay at Seattle: Hooboy, this is gonna be a game. Aaron Rodgers is a future Hall of Fame QB, and took on a very aggressive Cowboys defense on a bum calf. He’s got great receivers and a good running game. However, the Seattle defense is possibly the best defense fielded in the 21st century. Seriously, if these guys had been defending the Death Star, the Empire would’ve won. Seattle can be scored on, and Rodgers is one of the few who can do it, but he’ll need his very best game to make it happen. Can it do it with the calf injury?
Meanwhile, the Seattle offense is pretty good too. Carolina held Marshawn Lynch to just 59 yards rushing, so Russell Wilson lit it up with 3 TDs in the air. The Seahawks will take what the defense gives, and they’re good at spotting their opportunities. The Green Bay defense, meanwhile, allowed DeMarco Murray to rush for 123 yards last week. And while Tony Romo only threw 19 times, he completed 15 passes for 191 yards and two scores. The Pack had to come back from behind to win — and there was that call, which undoubtedly helped.
I think the Green Bay offense and Seattle defense are very evenly matched — that’s where the excitement will be. On the other side of the ball, I think the Seahawks offense will have the edge over the Packers defense. Thus… Pick: Seahawks.
Indianapolis at New England: Looking at the Pats running game last week isn’t a good example, because New England definitely has the capacity to run the ball — just because they didn’t against Baltimore doesn’t mean they can’t. The Indy defense did a fair job limiting the run against Denver, though to be fair, Manning & Co. passed a lot more than they ran, mostly because they were inexplicably behind and we saw a lot of Manning’s grim-face grimace. Indy will force Brady to go to the air a bit more — which, really, isn’t a problem for him at all.
Meanwhile, the Colts offense still has rushing issues — their feature back averaged just 2.7 yards per carry against the (admittedly quite good) Denver defense. The Pats run-D isn’t as good, but their secondary will help as Andrew Luck tries to air it out. That said, we all know what Luck can do with his arm. He has a few more INTs than I think his fans would like, but then, find me a QB that doesn’t. And his receivers are excellent.
I see two very evenly matched teams here, and the Colts are playing far better than they did when they received a 42-20 drubbing at New England in Week 11. In fact, they’re 8-1 since. Of course, the Pats are 11-2 since Week 4, and they’re probably the best team out there at changing things up week-to-week. This’ll be a close one, but experience wins out. Pick: Patriots.
Last week’s record: 3-1
Playoff record: 6-2