Well, heck, here’s something new: I got every single game right last week. Sure, there were only four games, but I still did better than the vast majority of the ESPN pickers. So I got that going for me, though let’s face it…two of those wins were tossups until the final seconds. I’m still claiming football wisdom regardless.
This week gets tougher. There’s some mighty powerful teams coming off the bench to face the wild-card upstarts, and picking this is going to be more difficult than bulls-eyeing womp rats in my T-16 back home. But I feel good about it. I’m in Los Angeles for work this week, and the city is all agog about getting the Rams back. (Interestingly, far less press has been given to the Chargers here. Unless and until the Chargers make a Super Bowl run here, it’s gonna be a Rams town.) I feel like I have some football karma on my side.
So let’s get to it.
Kansas City at New England: I remain convinced that the Chiefs are rightly the most feared team in the playoffs, and their drubbing of Houston is the latest example. Their defense is utterly fearsome against both pass and run, and the offense runs the ball better than Poe Dameron flies X-Wings. The Pats, meanwhile, seem listless and weary. They’ve had injuries and some plain old bad games of late. They don’t rush as well as the Chiefs, and Brady has to be careful with the ball against that secondary. It seems like the upstart Resistance is going up against the First Order, and we know how that turned out. Pick: Chiefs.
Green Bay at Arizona: Hey, look! The Pack put together a complete game! Granted, this was against Washington, but every little bit helps. (Honestly, it was a blessing in disguise to lose the division to the Vikings, because hosting the Seahawks is the short end of the stick there.) However, as much as the Pack would like to forget their utter decimation at the hands of the Cardinals earlier in the season, none of us forget. The Cardinals are the NFC’s scariest team. Going to Glendale is like being banished to the Wall, except for the weather. They’re going there to perish. Pick: Cardinals.
Seattle at Carolina: Speaking of “Winter is Coming,” it certainly arrived in full force last week in Minneapolis. But the Seahawks prevailed…barely. Minnesota isn’t a bad team, per se, but they were arguably the third weakest in the playoffs, after Houston and Washington. Seattle should’ve handled its business a lot better, and I think they know it. Now they get to test their mettle against Carolina, a very, very complete team in all phases. I expect a lot of Cam Newton dabbing and Superman-impersonating, and as much as I love the Seahawks…. Pick: Panthers.
Pittsburgh at Denver: Welcome back, Peyton Manning! We can only hope you’re the ruthless, effective Terminator of old, rather than the one we saw in Terminator: Genisys. That movie was bad. (Though I saw Fantastic 4 on the flight out here, and let me tell you, that was exponentially worse. So sad.) Thankfully, Manning has the ferocious Denver defense in his corner, which ought to wreak havoc against a walking-wounded Steelers offense. Rothelisberger will be limited at best, DeAngelo Williams still hasn’t practiced at full speed, and Antonio Brown remains in the concussion protocol. Insert your own Walking Dead riff here. Pick: Broncos.
Last week’s record: 4-0 baby!
Regular season record: 157-99