All season I have done a feature on Twitter called the Around the League Tweets (with various fake sponsors) and five times this season I mentioned how excited I’d be to bet against Andy Dalton in a playoff game. And what did I do? Not only did I not gamble against Dalton but I picked the Bengals to win! My quest for a perfect postseason died on Wild Card Weekend. I deserved the opening 3-1. On to the next round…
SATURDAY 4:35 PM ET – NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE
Line: Seahawks -8
Analysis: Thought Rob Ryan’s performance in Philadelphia was one of the most impressive defensive game plans we’ve seen in the NFL all season long but that won’t be enough to compensate for NOLA’s offensive struggles on the road. Seattle beat the Eagles in Philadelphia by relying on Mark Ingram and the ground game – an element the Seahawks will certainly take away with their front. That leaves Drew Brees to win the game through the air and he’s not the same player on the road.
Side note: Is it strange that I would give the Seahawks no shot if this game were in New Orleans? That doesn’t feel like the mark of a Super Bowl champion. I’ll worry about that next week.
Final Score: Seattle 24, New Orleans 13
SATURDAY 8:15 PM ET – INDY AT NEW ENGLAND
Line: Patriots -7
Analysis: I am desperate to pick Andrew Luck in this game but I can’t erase the images of Alex Smith looking like Joe Montana against this Colts defense. Yes, the Colts executed a remarkable comeback but they also allowed a Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs offense to score 40+ on them in their own building. Now they get Tom Brady?
Side note: Isn’t the dream ending here an Adam Vinatieri field goal in terrible conditions to win it for the Colts?
Final Score: New England 37, Indianapolis 27
SUNDAY 1:05 PM ET – SAN FRANCISCO AT CAROLINA
Line: Pick em.
Analysis: Luke Kuechly has had a wonderful season at middle linebacker and is only an historic Robert Mathis year away from winning DPOY. But one thing has been evident after studying Kuechly: he struggles in coverage. Sometimes he struggles terribly in coverage. If the Panthers end up with him isolated on Vernon Davis at any key moment in the game, they’re dead.
And with both of these clubs sporting dynamic pass rushes, I see the game decided by quarterback containment once the play breaks down. Whichever QB makes bigger plays with his legs wins. I say that’s Kaepernick.
Side note: No non-quarterback injury had more influence on my picks this week than Steve Smith. Without Smith at full strength I just don’t see how the Panthers offense can be consistently productive against this Niners defense. With him at full strength…well we’ve all seen that Smith can wreck postseason games by his lonesome. Yes sir, we have seen that firsthand.
Final Score: San Francisco 20, Carolina 16
SUNDAY 4:40 PM ET – SAN DIEGO AT DENVER
Line: Broncos -10
Analysis: I am taking Peyton Manning. That’s it. That’s the entirety of my analysis. I am taking Peyton this week. And next week. And more than likely a few weeks after that.
Side note: I am terrified of Phil Rivers in this game. But I am taking Peyton.
Final Score: Broncos 34, Chargers 31