Apologies for the lateness of the NFL picks. I know you are counting on these to make your bets in the opposite direction with the ledger sitting at 1-6-1 in the postseason and 6-20-2 since week 16. A few ramblings before the picks and hunker down because I may talk about Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- Nice little snowstorm up and down the eastern seaboard this weekend and very strange that Boston got the least of it compared with the rest of the Amtrak Boston-DC Megalopolis. Last year I was out with a snowblower every single Monday for about 4 weeks and worked at home 50% of the time in a bad/good scenario. Moving two feet of snow is hard work and especially when your driveway is on a diagonal slope.
- But still I give thanks every day for having an attached garage. What was paid for the house several years back has probably been made up for in NOT having to brush snow off cars. A real time saver.
- Seth Jones is a beast. I had missed the Bruins vs Nashville games in Boston each of the last two years so I never got to see him live until December 7 of this season. Because he was still on the Predators, he languished behind Shea Weber and Roman Josi.
- Seth is now free from all that, getting to play huge minutes on Columbus. He stood out as by far the best player they have, going over 27 minutes of ice time.
- I’ve said it before: if you can trade a really good center for a defenceman who can be a #1 for the next 10 years, you have to do it. Call it the Chris Pronger Corollary.
- Now let’s just say a prayer for the Blue Jackets fan base, who have suffered so much over the last 15 years since their founding. Definitely an underrated tortured fan base but they still show up in numbers. I love to see people in Blue Jackets jerseys in TD Garden because I respect what they’ve gone through as fans.
- Random note: Went to an NHL preseason game in Kansas City in September 2014 and every team except two was represented by someone wearing their jersey by someone in the stands. Those two teams were Florida and Columbus. Oh well.
Onto the picks:
Denver (+3) vs New England: I’m paranoid about this. I want to break out a tin foil hat given all the weird NFL officiating stuff this year and Ed Hochuli working the game. Fawning media coverage of Peyton Manning, while everyone decides to ignore sound science on inflation of footballs. Wishing I could forget all that, but I can’t.
Here’s a secret: The Patriots NEVER win in Denver. This goes way back to the 80s when they would play Elway there every year and be overmatched. The Patriots have exactly 3 wins in the Mile High City since Lyndon Johnson was President: 1. a random win in 2000 with four Drew Bledsoe TD passes as a 8.5 point underdog; 2. A miracle win on a Monday night in 2003 when the Patriots took an intentional safety with under 3 minutes left before getting the ball back for a winning 58 yard drive; 3. A 2011 win over the bizarre Tim Tebow-led Broncos. That’s it. I don’t care if Gronk and Edelman are there, and the defense is healthy. I’ve been burned too many damn times by Denver, and not just the time I got stuck there for 3 days because of 39 inches of snow.
Denver Broncos 23, New England Patriots 17
Carolina (-3) vs Arizona: I like the Cardinals a lot, and figured them for a Super Bowl appearance. But I can’t in good conscience pick them in Carolina on a frozen field with Carson Palmer at QB. Palmer was very good this year but that doesn’t mean that I trust him in a big spot. Meanwhile, Cam Newton always comes up large in big games dating back to Auburn.
Arizona also gets demerits for screwing up defending a Hail Mary play. TWICE! How in the world do you let that happen in a playoff game? Carolina gave up all those points in the 2nd half because they knew they could, and also happened to be playing a better team in Seattle. So I’m thinking Carolina cruises here with some sort of weird touchdown tossed into the mix.
Carolina 31, Arizona 13