The playoffs are finally here, which means no more Raiders-Chargers late games, no more Eagles or Jets in primetime spots because networks thought they were going to be good, and no more me having to painfully sit through St. Louis Rams games out of hometown loyalty and watch Sam Bradford get crushed by average defensive linemen because he plays behind an offensive line made out of castoffs from the movie Little Giants.
No, it’s time for real, honest-to-goodness meaningful football. They may not be playing for all the Tostitos, but we should see some good games this weekend, and after the jump, you’ll see just how I think it’s going to go down.
Last Week: 5-8
Regular Season Record: 128-116-6
Saturday Afternoon Game (1/5 4:30PM)
Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-4.5)
For the second year in a row, the Bengals and Texans will play in the boring Saturday afternoon slot in the least watched game of the weekend. Last year, the Bengals lost out to the Texans’ third-string quarterback, William Butler Yeats, it what was way more than the Second Coming of Bengals playoff defeat. This year, though, the Texans slouched their way toward playoff Bethlehem, even though they’ve got all of their major pieces healthy, and the Bengals are playing good football, even if it ain’t pretty. I’m pretty sure the Bengals will win this game outright, but I’m absolutely sure they’re going to keep the game close enough to take them as my pick.
My Pick: Bengals (+4.5)
Saturday Night Game (1/5 8PM)
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-8)
Last week’s Vikings-Packers matchup in Minnesota was one of the better games I’ve seen this year, won on a last minute field goal by the Vikings made possible by Purple Jesus himself, Adrian Peterson, who, sadly, is not my relative even though we have similar last names (I can’t help that he spells his wrong). I know I wanted Blair Walsh to miss the chip shot field goal so we could go into overtime and have Peterson set the single-season rushing mark, but the victory was just as good. Will they repeat this week? No!
My Pick: Packers (-8)
Sunday Early Game (1/6 1PM)
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
The big news coming into this game is that Ray Lewis is retiring after this year, so the Ravens are going to try and win the big one for him. Part of me was OVERJOYED that he was retiring so I wouldn’t have to hear announcers give him far too much credit for the defensive play on the field, even though he hasn’t been the best player on the Ravens’ defense for more than half a decade, so that I wouldn’t have to watch him pumping up his squad before every game, so I wouldn’t have to think about murder every time the Ravens played. Then I realized that as soon as he’s done, he’ll get a TV job right away, and I’ll probably have to see him just as much as I ever did when he was playing, or at least hear him as a color guy in the booth. Sigh. As far as this game goes, the spread is set exactly right so that I don’t know which side to take, but I’m going to lean on this one being close, and take the Colts and the points. Now watch, they’ll finally give it to Ray Rice as much as they should have been the entire season.
My Pick: Colts (+6.5)
Sunday Early Game (1/6 4:30PM)
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Washington Redskins
In the battle of the rookie quarterbacks, Russell Wilson comes in with the better defense and Robert Griffin III comes in with more skill, though he’s a bit hobbled by injury. Both teams have solid running attacks, but I think the pure athleticism of RGIII will carry him and his team in this game over Russell Wilson’s tangible intangibles. At least I hope so.
My Pick: Redskins (+2.5)
It’s the best football week of the year, Wild Card Weekend. Enjoy yourselves and see you back here next week.