The best thing about the playoffs is that the slate is wiped clean, so no more dwelling on the 5-10 record on picks last week, coupled with the 0-4-1 disaster the week prior. The bad thing is there are only 11 playoff games in total so a losing streak like that would be pretty bad. In another weird twist, the two AFC games are both on Saturday and NBC is televising their first 1 PM Sunday game since the 1997 playoffs.
Saturday 4:35 PM (ESPN)
Kansas City (-3) at Houston: This is a tougher game to call than it first appears. The first instinct is to bet against Brian Hoyer, but how much do you trust Alex Smith? Personally, I always liked him and he did win a home playoff game against the Saints in January 2012. But that defense isn’t as good as this Texans D.
The Chiefs have not lost since October 18, which is funny because the ROYALS have lost three games since that date and their World Series was won on November 1. They have had some good fortune along the way: like catching Denver with Manning clearly ailing and playing at Baltimore after Joe Flacco’s season-ending injury. Some of the recent wins haven’t been all that impressive: 17-13 over Cleveland and 10-3 over San Diego both at home. Plus Andy Reid’s considerate shadow is lurking over everything.
As for the Texans, they have been a different team since Nov. 1, with a 7-2 record with the only losses in Buffalo and home against New England. In the last 10 quarters of football, their defense has allowed only a single touchdown and that was with a 34-0 lead late in the 4th against the Titans. All they might need here is one big play from DeAndre Hopkins.
Pick: Houston 20, Kansas City 17
Saturday 8:05 PM (CBS)
Pittsburgh (-3) at Cincinnati: I feel like we’ve seen this before. Pittsburgh gets into the playoffs as a wild card and goes into Cincinnati perceived as the better team. When that happened in January 2006, Carson Palmer got hurt on the 1st play and the Steelers won the first game in their Super Bowl run.
The Steelers have a strange habit of losing to subpar teams, so lucky for them this is the playoffs so they won’t have that problem unless the Bengals somehow start Tim Tebow. The Bengals will start A.J. McCarron in place of the injured Andy Dalton and even McCarron has a wrist ailment. I just can’t see the Bengals keeping up.
That’s a shame, because as a kid I was a fan of the Bengals as my side team since Patriots games were routinely blacked out locally. I still have a Bengals duffel bag and golf towels a monument to that time, and also a Ki-Jana Carter jersey I got for Christmas in 1995. I can actually remember their last playoff win in 1990 against the Houston Oilers, which is funny because Houston in 1993 was the last playoff win for Kansas City. But I digress.
Pick: Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 21
Sunday 1 PM (NBC)
Seattle (-4) at Minnesota: Oooh, a matchup of two teams that used to play in domes (Minnesota will be back in one next year) playing in zero degree temperatures. That’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius because America. I’m sure the NFL will be checking the PSI in the footballs all game because integrity. Right.
Seattle beat the hell out of the Vikes on the same field 38-7 only five weeks ago. The Vikings are still pretty much the same team hoping to ride Adrian Peterson because they can’t throw the ball downfield. Their only points in the 31 point loss were off a kickoff return TD, and they had a measly 125 total yards for the game. Even if they play better, that”s a huge gap to make up.
I’m reminded of the Patriots-Jets in 2010 when the Pats won 45-7 in December then lost a playoff game 28-21. I don’t see the same thing happening here and if I’m going to be wrong, let it be because Seattle turned the ball over. Minnesota was 13-3 against the spread this year which is pretty insane. I’ll tempt fate and go with the Seahawks here.
Pick: Seattle 21, Minnesota 16
Sunday 4:40 PM (FOX)
Green Bay (pk) at Washington: Green Bay choked away the division last week at home, while Washington has been on fire behind the inspired play of Kirk Cousins, who they will be giving big money to this offseason. Good for him, but they still don’t have a win over a team that finished above .500 this season.
It would be easy for me to write off Washington since I attended their game in Foxboro and they dropped about 4,583 passes. And they are so easy to hate because Daniel Snyder is a colossal dick. FedEx Field is notorious for being one of the worst places to get to in the NFL, but it has also been a hard place for visitors. Washington is 6-1 in their last 7 at home. The Pack hasn’t been a good team since October, limping to the finish losing 6 of 10. I can easily see Washington getting annhilated at Carolina or Arizona next week but for now I see them winning their first playoff game in years.
Pick: Washington 30, Green Bay 24
Last Week: 5-10
Season: 13-21-1Playoffs: 0-0 (Thank God)