Yeah, I went 0-4 last weekend, but c’mon! Who’d have guessed that…
*Sean McDermott would forget how to coach following a near-perfect Buffalo first half?
*Mike Vrabel would out-Belichick Belichick?
*Carson Wentz would leave early with an injury (okay, I suppose you might have guessed that one)?
*Josh McCown was still in the league??
*Tom Brady and Drew Brees would finally play like 40-somethings on the same weekend?
*Kirk Cousins would win a meaningful game?
*J.J. Watt would not just stay healthy the entire game, but wreak havoc?
Besides, I would argue there is the exact same degree of difficulty involved for a prognosticator to perfectly forecast four games the wrong way, as there is to correctly pick all four winners (go ahead, try it). And hey, we were actually 1-3 against the spread (just sayin’ and thanks for covering, Titans).
Plus, everyone knows Wild Card Weekend is simply the warm up band for Divisional Round Weekend, when the talent level moves up a notch along with the stakes.
So here we go one more time — doubling down, moving our chips to the middle of the table, you’re either in, or you’re out — Jim Fassel-style circa 2000 (home team in ALL CAPS as always):
Vikings (+7) over the 49ERS — If you are one of the haters out there taking the SportsAttic picks and going the other way in amassing your gambling fortune, even I would encourage you to go against us here. These damn Vikings! All that talent, and they just suck you in time and again. And then when you can’t stand the pain anymore and decide to ride their hapless inability to win the big one, they go and kick the Saints’ ass in New Orleans. I just don’t know anymore. But I do feel like the Niners staggered into this postseason, one Pete Carroll delay of game gift away from losing their bye week, and that they have big time exposure in their secondary. I like a shootout here, but I’m going with the Vikes, and not just to cover. Upset Special! (Vikings, 31-30)
RAVENS (-8.5) over the Titans — I don’t feel good about this one either. Such is the life of a prognosticator coming off an 0-4 whitewash during Wild Card Weekend, I suppose, but let’s face some facts. The Ravens are guided by a second-year QB. Yeah, Lamar Jackson has been a beast and appears unstoppable right about now, but as the great Bill Parcells used to say “let’s not send him to Canton just yet.” The Ravens certainly appear to be the head and shoulders favorite to emerge from the AFC in a couple weeks time, but this was a Baltimore team most had going 7-9 or even 6-10 in the preseason reviews. Well, even so, this weekend’s pick is more about the Titans being out of their league in Round 2 against any of the remaining playoff teams, and my sense is that Tennessee is simply happy to be here. Don’t expect style points from either side this week, but Baltimore moves on. (Ravens, 24-10)
Texans (+9.5) over the CHIEFS — Repeat after me: TOO MANY POINTS! Yes, it’s only Wednesday, and perhaps this line shrinks as kickoff nears, but c’mon now, do we really think Kansas City is that much better than Houston? Patrick Mahomes gives the Chiefs a built-in advantage most weeks at the most important position on the field. Not so this week, with Deshaun Watson riding high after putting the entire Texans franchise on his back and pulling out that improbable comeback against the Bills last Saturday. And Houston’s defensive front, sparked by J.J. Watt’s return, was downright ferocious in the second half. Now factor in Andy Reid and his track record of coming up small in big spots when his team is heavily favored, and this seems like a layup against such a wide spread. Not that Titans HC Bill O’Brien distinguished himself even a little bit last weekend either, he just had the benefit of not being quite as awful as McDermott when the game went to shit in the final minutes. Which coach will do the least damage to his own troops this Sunday? I’m going with O’Brien. And if I’m taking Houston to cover, I may as well shoot for the outright win. Besides, don’t we all want to see that D-Wat versus L-Jax matchup next weekend in the AFC Championship Game? (Texans, 37-31)
Seahawks (+3) over the PACKERS — Here’s hoping it starts snowing in Green Bay today and doesn’t stop until sometime Monday morning. This should be an old-fashioned grinder, and I like the Seahawks if it is. Beast Mode has his sea legs back, and a questionable Packers D awaits, while the Seattle D looked real tough last weekend, even if it was against a bunch of Philly stand ins. The Seahawks can handle the cold, too (anyone been to Seattle in January?), and despite not looking great against the Philly M*A*S*H unit on Sunday, Russell Wilson seems like he’s having one of those “meant to be” kind of years. Aaron Rodgers will keep Green Bay close, but the Pack have been pretenders all year, and that becomes all too clear by Sunday night. (Seahawks, 17-16)
So there you have it — three upsets leading to a Ravens-Texans and Vikings-Seahawks Championship double-header next Sunday afternoon.
And as for SportsAttic rebounding from the startling debacle that took place last weekend? Lock these picks in now — contrarians be warned — you can take ’em to the house!
(And as a wise man once said of me in my youth — or maybe it was a few weeks ago — “never in doubt, rarely right.”)