Went 2-2 ATS last week and would have been 3-1 if I’d remembered never to lay 9 points on an Andy Reid-coached team under any circumstances. Still, 2-2 is a good start. Need a 3-1 week to keep the dream of topping 7-4 alive. I’m confident.
All spreads from BETUS, Thursday evening.
Saturday – 3:20 pm CT
Pick: Falcons -3
This is the hardest game to analyze on the weekend because it’s impossible to know what to expect from Nick Foles. But if the Falcons defense plays as fast and angry as it did against the Rams, how could anyone expect Foles to get anything done through the air? A few interceptions are likely as the Falcons continue their journey to Super Bowl redemption…maybe. Falcons 20, Eagles 14.
Saturday – 7:15 pm CT
Pick: Patriots -13
This Titans crap has gone on long enough. Patriots 27, Titans 10.
Sunday – 12:05 pm CT
Pick: Steelers -7
Here’s my hot take for the column: the Jaguars defense is overrated. Jimmy G tore them to ribbons on Christmas Eve. Since then they’ve faced the offensive juggernauts of Tennessee and Buffalo and could easily have lost to both. (Tyrod Taylor had plenty of opportunities.)
I can’t imagine a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger repeats his mid-season “maybe I don’t have it anymore” nightmare. I can imagine a scenario where Chad Henne finds his way onto the field to replace Blake Bortles. Steelers 30, Jags 10
Sunday – 3:40 pm CT
Pick: Saints +5
Last week I didn’t trust Goff. This week I don’t trust Keenum. Both had wonderful regular season but the playoffs are an entirely different animal. Every single throw carries the weight of the entire season. Is Keenum ready for that pressure?
New Orleans has the corners to limit what the Vikings receivers can do outside, allowing their front to harass the Minnesota signal caller into mistakes. Then the game falls on the arm of Drew Brees and, well, he’s just fine with that. Saints 20, Vikings 17
ON THIS WEEK’S EPISODE:
I couldn’t believe what I was watching. The morning after, I still can’t believe it. Eight thoughts…
One of the most memorable Super Bowls in history. And now the offseason begins.
Honestly, I haven’t spent much time thinking about this Super Bowl. The NFL starts to drift from my mind moments after the conference championship games are concluded. (At this point, golf begins to take the leaves the lounge and comes into the showroom.) But having seen a boatload of both teams over the course of the season, here are five thoughts:
The “expert” analysis seems to be moving towards Atlanta every day. I’m not going there.
New England Patriots 34, Atlanta Falcons 31
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, I hate more than fluke champions. It devalues everything I long for from the Chicago Bears; everything that brings me to the keyboard each and every day. I’m not arguing the Atlanta Falcons would be a fluke champion should they win the Fantastic Football Foray. Far, far from it. But the most definitive reason why I have no problem with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady winning their fifth championship together is simple: greatness.
The Patriots of this era are the most brilliantly run organization in the history of professional sports. Don’t give me the heyday Celtics or late 70s Steelers or late 90s Yankees or Jordan Bulls or one of those hockey franchises that wins a bunch. Every one of those aforementioned runs had a talent advantage on the opposition. Their guys were better than the other guys. They won because they should win.
The Patriots operate at a time where championship continuity is seemingly impossible. They let solid veterans walk out the door and turn castaways into household names. Rob Gronkowski done for the year and maybe longer. Who cares? They lose their Hall of Fame quarterback and still win. They lose his backup and, guess what, they don’t lose.
The Patriots have Tom Brady. And Tom Brady is great. But how many times have the Patriots had the most talented roster in the conference, let alone the entire NFL? Their current defensive roster, the league’s best scoring unit, is nowhere near as talented as the reigning champs in Denver. Their skill players on the offensive side pale in comparison to the group they demolished a week ago from Pittsburgh.
But they are great because of Brady. And Belichick. And Ernie Adams. They are great and if they win their fifth championship Sunday, I will applaud them. They deserve it. Theirs is the success of which all fans should dream.
“Super Bowl” is maybe the silliest name for a sporting event on earth.
What makes the game a bowl? (Bleacher Report traced the completely arbitrary origins.) Were the leaders of professional football in the late 60s so unimaginative that they just lifted nomenclature from the college game? The World Series is at least a series, even if the world has nothing to do with it. Play the game at The Rose Bowl every year if you’re going to keep the dumbo name.
And super? Really? That’s the adjective they decided upon? Even in the late 60s the word super was lame.
Todd: Well, Jim, the game is gonna be really terrific.
Jim: The Terrific Title Game. What do you think, Todd?
Todd: Doesn’t pop, Jim. The name has to pop!
Jim: The Fantastic Football Foray!
Todd: Sounds too much like a burlesque show.
Jim: The Super Bowl? I know it’s lame –
Todd: Nailed it!
This Super Bowl lacks juice. Three reasons:
Administrative Note: The Weekend Show will return Super Bowl week and continue to run throughout the off-season. Our guests will not only be Bears-related but also branch out to other Chicago institutuions – bars, restaurants, culture, politics…etc. And we’ll do A LOT on the quarterbacks available in this draft.
Went 3-1 against the spread last week but only 2-2 picking winners. So I’m an alarmingly mediocre 4-4 ATS and 5-3 picking winners this postseason. Not good.
Atlanta had the most impressive win of the division round. Took some body blows early from a proven contender and then did what this franchise has failed to do for what feels like a decade: knocked out an opponent. This is unquestionably the most exciting and dynamic offense left in the playoffs. But what I love about the construction of this roster is they are now equipped to hold a lead because of a young, exciting pass rush.
Will that matter against Aaron Rodgers? Nobody knows. Rodgers is now playing the quarterback position better than anyone in the history of the league. His receiving corps stinks. His running back is a slot receiver. He has a brilliant pass blocking offensive line but the rest of Ted Thompson’s team is the definition of mediocrity. Can Rodgers win this game? Of course he can. But I’m saying the magic runs out. Barely.
Falcons 41, Packers 38
I have no idea what to make of this game.
Houston’s defense was brilliant a week ago but were beaten by two things: (1) Weirdo Tom Brady moon balls his receivers managed to haul in and (2) their own quarterback throwing the ball to the other team. If the Patriots had either the Chiefs or Steelers on the other side of the field Saturday night, I don’t think they’re playing this week.
Kansas City should have beaten Pittsburgh but Andy Reid and Alex Smith executed an offensive game plan the league hasn’t seen since the invention of the forward pass. (Reid is quickly venturing into Schottenheimer territory.)
Here’s what I know. Le’Veon Bell is amazing, Bill Belichick knows that and agenda item number one for the Patriots will be stopping him. If they do, they win. If they don’t…?
Patriots 24, Steelers 21