Alright, we’ve suffered five days with no football (sorry, the NBA just doesn’t fill the void) but now we got a weekend full of football. Let’s get right to Saturday’s action.
New Orleans at Seattle (-8)
As a general rule, you pick the Saints when they’re underdogs. As an absolute, you pick the Saints when they’re getting more than a touchdown. Look, I get the 12th man thing, loudest stadium in the league thing, blah, blah, blah. But I can’t really see the Saints losing by more than a touchdown. In fact, this Ginger likes the Saints chances to win outright. New Orleans got over the road playoff hump last week in Philly, and Sean Payton will have his team ready to roll. But it’s certainly not going to be an easy task…and the cards certainly favor the Seahawks.
These teams played each other last month (in Seattle), and the Seahawks smoked the Saints 34-7. Now, Seattle’s had a week to get healthy, and Percy Harvin’s back. Plus, the Legion of Boom, led by Richard Sherman, the best corner in the game (sorry Revis) will make things tough for Drew Brees to air it out. But the Saints have shown that they can run a balanced offense, and, if Seattle’s D has any weakness, it’s defending the run.
This game is going to be close, even more reason to love the Saints getting 8. And if you need another reason, Vegas Vinny picked Seattle to cover. And while we wait for what we think is going to be the game of the weekend, let’s marvel at Beastmode’s epic run the last time these teams met in the playoff:
Indy at New England (-7)
In the night cap, Andrew Luck and the Colts take on dreamboat Tom Brady and the Patriots. Indy’s a tough team to gauge. At times, they play like a team that has no business being in the playoffs, like when then spotted Kansas City 28 points (at home) last week. At other times, they play with the resilience of champions, like when they came back against Kansas City down 28 (in the third quarter)! This Jekyll and Hyde approach will come to an end in New England.
It’s tough picking against New England at home, despite our deep hatred of all things Boston. Plus (conspiracy theory alert!) there’s no way the NFL lets the Pats lose. The AFC Championship Game will be New England and Denver. Brady v. Manning for the right to go to the Super Bowl. The NFL (yes, the entire NFL) has a hard on to make that happen.
Conspiracy theory aside, the matchups favor New England. The Pats have the advantage in experience, veteran leadership, and coaching. No Gronk? No problem. Brady will use Julian Edelman in the slot more. And don’t underestimate New England’s running game. It’s actually quite good…good enough for 9th in the league at nearly 130 yards a game.
The Colts have made great strides this year, but they’re a year or so off from making a deep run in the post season. New England, on the other hand, needs to win now before the light on their dynasty turns off. It’s that sense of urgency that will propel the Pats to victory.