- Though the quality of the teams involved is high, the potential for entertaining games is lessening. Why? The weather is getting colder, and with games at Foxborough (featuring 37 year old Tom Brady), Lambeau (Aaron Rodgers's calf, Tony Romo's back) and Mile High (Peyton Manning's Peyton Manning-ness), the cold is definitely a factor.
- Is it just me, or does a Pats/Seahawks Super Bowl seem inevitable at this point? Both teams are healthy and rested, get to play at home, are favoured this weekend, and would be favoured in any potential matchup on Championship Sunday.
- I was 2-2 with my picks last week. My wife, I am obliged to mention, was 4-0. She preferred Flacco to Roethlisberger, and thought that I was crazy for picking "The Red Rooster" over Luck.
My picks in Bold:
Ravens at Patriots
A whole lot of Pats fans are worried about this game, I'm sure, and they should be. The Ravens always play the Pats tough, (kind of like the Jets, but better). Joe Flacco's specialty is the deep ball, and he has a couple of Smiths at WR who can turn those bombs into something. Defensively, the Ravens have the personnel to pressure Brady with Suggs and Dumerville, plus they have Holoti Ngata back from his fortuitous suspension after a positive drug test (Fortuitous? Hell yes; the talented big man got four weeks off to rest just before the playoffs.) OK, so that's the sexy narrative, now here's the reality. The Pats should win this easily. Their offence is balanced, has the nigh-unstoppable Gronk, and is going against a bad Baltimore secondary. Oh, and New England's defence is the best the team has had in years. Only mistakes, or injuries, can derail the Pats this time.
Panthers at Seahawks
Carolina is lucky to have made it this far. They won a bad division, and drew Arizona in the first round. Their road ends here. And as for Seattle, another in a string of favourable matchups will have the fans believing, at least for one more week, that everything is fine.
Cowboys at Packers
Last week, I said that if they beat Detroit, the Cowboys would go up to Lambeau and thump the Packers. After watching that Lions/Cowboys game, I take it back. There was just something about the way the Cowboys underperformed that I found off-putting. Oh, and Dez Bryant played like absolute crap, and displayed his old characteristic lack of self-control at a crucial point in the game, which would have cost his team dearly if the officials hadn't decided to suddenly become complete effing morons. Dallas was extremely lucky to win last week. I expect the high-scoring contest, mainly because of the two great offences and two defences that I don't particularly trust. If you hate the Cowboys as much as I do, (even though I kind of like Romo), and the sight of Chis Christie celebrating with Jerry Jones drives you nuts, here's one more reason to root against Dallas. Go Packers!
Colts at Broncos
To those Broncos fans who are worried that their team didn't play well down the stretch (they didn't), and who are probably scared to death of Andrew Luck (they should be), take heart; this Colts team isn't very good. The number of weapons at Peyton Manning's disposal will overwhelm the underwhelming Indy defence, and Denver's pass rush and secondary will negate any magic that Luck might conjure. Enjoy your trip to Foxborough, Broncos.