Everyone enters the playoffs 0-0*, including yours truly, so let’s get after it.
All lines come from Las Vegas Hilton, via Vegas Insider.
The Indianapolis Colts are 1.5-point favourites at home against the Kansas City Chiefs (4:35 p.m. Saturday, NBC)
This game looks like a no-brainer.
The Colts trashed the Chiefs in Kansas City 23-7 two weeks ago. The Chiefs were seven-point favourites in that game, too. The fact that the line is only 1.5 makes me think that Vegas thinks that the Colts are frauds. And Vegas has shown that it knows more than me all season long.
But, you know who knows more than Vegas? Ron Jaworski.
That guy is on fire with his NFL picks this season, and at his site he has the Colts winning by two touchdowns.
I love Jaworski. He’s sort of the prototypical talking-head, but he does the hard work of breaking down the tape. He’s enthusiastic and entertaining. He just sounds like he loves his job, which is awesome. There’s nothing better than seeing someone with talent enjoying what they do.
I’m rolling with Jaws here. I think Andrew Luck is good enough to get the win at home, and the Colts defence does enough to stymie the Chiefs. I don’t have any major insights on this game since I haven’t watched a lot of either team, so going to just go with the no-brainer and hope for the best.
The pick: Colts -1.5
For non-gamblers, that means I think the Colts win by 2 points or more.
The Philadelphia Eagles are 2.5-point favourites at home against the New Orleans Saints (8 p.m. Saturday, NBC)
I am an Eagles fan, and so I am conflicted on this pick. I am scared to pick the Eagles because I don’t want to jinx them.
This is a winnable game for the Eagles. Amazingly, every game is suddenly winnable for the Eagles, who have grown into a very good team.
Here’s how the Eagles win: The offence runs all over the Saints. The Saints have the 21st-ranked defence on the road in the league, based on DVOA. The Eagles should be able to rip a lot of big runs, eat up yardage, and keep Drew Brees off the field. The running game should open up the passing game enough for some of those Nick Foles monster home run passes. The defence will give up a lot of yards, but if it can tighten up in the red zone, and stop the Saints from scoring touchdowns, then it should be enough. And, duh, no turnovers.
Here’s how the Saints win: The defence gets pressure on Foles. Foles doesn’t have the best footwork, and he’s not an agile, quick-moving quarterback (As good as he’s been, I could see Eagles coach Chip Kelly drafting a mobile QB next April).
The Cowboys stymied the Eagles passing game last week. While the Eagles ran it well, they only scored 24 points. If the Saints hold Philly to 24, the defence will have done its job.
On the offensive side, Drew Brees should destroy the Eagles. The Eagles have a real problem at the safety position, so I expect Jimmy Graham to wreck them. If the Eagles rotate to cover him, then the Saints have receivers to take advantage. They also run screens really well. It should be a nightmare for an Eagles defence that gives Eagles fans palpitations. The only thing to worry about if your a Saints fan is the fact that Brees is worse on the road in the cold. But, I think he’s heard that all week and he will be fired up to prove people wrong.
The pick: Saints +2.5
For non-gamblers, take the Saints’ final score, add 2.5 and it should be higher than the Eagles score.
The Cincinnati Bengals are 6.5-point favourites at home against the San Diego Chargers (1 p.m. Sunday, CBS)
The Bengals were a perfect 8-0 at home this season. They didn’t just win at home either, they crushed. The won their last 5 games at home by 17, 28, 14, 21 and 40.
They’ve already beaten the Chargers once this season, winning by seven in San Diego. I think they do it again, and do it big at home. The Chargers shouldn’t be in the playoffs. They barely beat Kansas City’s second string last week. I don’t think they can beat Cincinnati’s first string.
The pick: Bengals -6.5
For non-gamblers, that means the Bengals win by 7 or more.
It’s going to get crazy old Sunday night.
The San Francisco 49ers are 2.5-point favourites on the road against the Green Bay Packers (4:30 p.m. Sunday, Fox)
The Green Bay Packers are struggling to sell out their playoff game. As are the Bengals and Colts. The only team that didn’t have this problem? The Eagles. Philadelphia fans are the best sports fans in the country. They actually go and support the team. So, next time you hear some crap about them being jerks, or bad fans, remember the good people of Green Bay don’t even want to watch their team.
As for the game … is there a great team with less hype than the 49ers? They’re on a six-game winning streak. They went to the Super Bowl last year. And yet, no one is really talking about them. The hype is on the Eagles with Chip Kelly, or the Seahawks or Panthers. Even in this game, the talk will center on Aaron Rodgers, who is really freaking good.
I don’t see the Packers having a chance here. The 49ers offence will run all over the Packers defence. The 49ers defence will be good enough to stop Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offence.
The only reasons to pick the Packers: They’re at home, and it’s going to be sub-zero. They have Aaron Rodgers who can make magic happen.
Neither of those are compelling enough to me.
The pick: 49ers -2.5
For non-gamblers, I like the 49ers to win by 3 or more.
*Technically, records matter in the playoffs for seedings. So, if you must know my record during the regular season, it was 58-67-4.
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