With the regular season done, we'll continue to pick the winners in the playoffs all the way up through the Super Bowl. The final regular season was a great one, finishing with five straight weeks of 10+ wins for a final winning percentage of over 62%. While I hope to keep up the good work in the post season, there truly is only one game I hope to pick correct for the next four times. I'll pick and pan the Baltimore Ravens at the Kansas City Chiefs game tomorrow morning, but fo rnow, here are the other three games this weekend, starting wth the two Saturday games:
Saints over Seahawks (Saturday 4:30pm): While I think that Seattle will cover the largest point spread for a home playoff underdog in wagering history, I just cannot see them playing the perfect game they would need to upset the defending Super Bowl champs. That perfect game might not even be enough as New Orleans would also have to contribute by playing perhaps as bad as they did in losing to the Cleveland Browns earlier this season. Doubtful that Drew Brees will end his quest to repeat at this point of the post-season. Not quite yet. Saints win, but the home team Seahawks stay in the game and don't embarrass themselves, although this is a classic reason why the playoff seedings need to be re-examined.
Colts over Jets (Saturday 8:00p): This is a re-match of last year's AFC Championship Game, but both teams are not looking like the teams they were at the end of last year. Indianapolis slipped into the post-season on the last weekend of the regular season and the Jets seemed to limp into the final Wild Card slot. Peyton Manning is still a passing fool and appparently doesn't care who is on the receiving end of his pinpoint passes. He's had multiple games with multiple interceptions, but seems to suck it up and win when he needs to. Meanwhile New York QB Mark Sanchez has not only seemed to regress from his rookie season, he is fighting a nagging shoulder injury as well. The Colts defense, while considered their weak link, always seems to step up in the post-season and while the Jets defense is among the best, they have proven susceptible to the pass and the big play, which is where Manning seems to shine when the game and in this case the season is on the line. I just can't see them losing at home, and expect them to win and then head to Pittsburgh for next week's divisional round.
Packers over Eagles: This is by far the toughest game to call of the weekend and expected to be the best game as well. While Green Bay came into Philadelphia in the first game of the 2010 regular season and left with a 27-20 victory, that was four months ago and a lot has changed for both teams. These two teams are very even but for different reasons. Green Bay boasts a great passing game but quietly has a top five defense and was second best in the entire NFL in points allowed. Philadelphia has the 12th ranked defense but is 22nd in points allowed. The Eagles have the x-factor in Michael Vick, making it the the third-highest scoring team in the league and the second-ranked offense. I believe that the Packers have taken a serious look at how the Minnesota Vikings overwhelmed the Eagles at the end of the regular season and as good as Vick has been and despite the game being in Philly, I'll stick with my mantra that "defense wins championships" (at least for now- ask me about New England another time!).
Last week: 10-6
Season record: 158-96 (62%)