Like some hard-to-kill mutant zombie, SportsAttic is back at it again this week, handicapping what many football fans consider to be the most enjoyable Sunday of the NFL season.
Undeterred by last weekend’s whitewashing, which brought our postseason record to 0-8 (1-7 against the spread — yikes!), we return with an optimistic outlook for the AFC and NFC Championship games set to air this Sunday. You’d be excused if, by now, you’ve decided that the SportsAttic weekly selections have become the most tried and true method for NFL gambling success — if you simply take our picks and go the other way!
However, we here at the SportsAttic Editorial Prognostication Selection Committee (yeah, it’s just me, but tell me that didn’t sound at least a little impressive) are choosing to take the glass-half-full approach, wagering (no pun intended) that we are SO overdue at this point (did I mention that I also swung and missed, taking Clemson to cover in the National Championship game?) that regardless of the methodology we utilize in picking this weekend’s winners, the law of averages will ensure our predictions come up golden.
The choice on how to best capitalize on the following predictions is yours, of course, and without further delay here we go (as always, home team in ALL CAPS):
49ERS (-7 1/2) over the Packers — I’ve been giving the Niners shit all year. They’re a year away. Overrated. Not as good as the Saints or Seattle. Stumbled through the second half of the season. Then again, I’ve felt similarly doubtful about the Packers, who have feasted on an overrated, mediocre division, all the while riding the mighty shoulders of their one, unquestioned star, Aaron Rodgers. And the point spread feels like a lot for a conference championship matchup between the two teams that earned byes into the Divisional Round. But as much as I hate to say it, given that Bay Area fans are so goddamned spoiled between the MLB Giants’ run at the beginning of the last decade, followed by the Warriors dynasty, and now this Niners resurgence, but San Francisco is head and shoulders the best team left standing in the tournament. And even though I’m rapidly tiring of sappy pregame features on George Kittle, the San Francisco tight end is a complete stud. With the exception of QB (and even QB is close), the 49ers are superior to Green Bay in every facet of the game, with only the defensive secondary being a toss up. And therein lies the “puncher’s chance” for The Pack. Can Rodgers put the entire Green Bay roster on his shoulders and gunsling his way to the upset in the shadows of his old NorCal stomping grounds? It’s a cool storyline, but I can’t see this one happening. This game will test the power of taking the contrarian approach to a SportsAttic selection. We only need to go back one week to see how the SportsAttic Reverse Indicator derailed the Baltimore Ravens’ title aspirations. You remember the Ravens, right? Clearly the best team left in the tournament a week ago? Playing an overmatched opponent that had already advanced further than their talent would indicate possible? Large point spread be damned, the Ravens were not to be stopped, right? Not so fast… Well, at the risk of uttering the most dangerous four words known to gamblers across the globe, “it’s different this week.” (49ers, 31-20)
Titans (+7 1/2) over the CHIEFS — And with a few short strokes of the keypad has the unlikely run of the Titans now met an untimely, SportsAttic demise? I’m sorry, but the Chiefs were dead-ass D-E-A-D in the second quarter of last week’s game, until the moment became too big for meathead Bill O’Brien (“It’s 4th and inches, step on the neck you dumbass, get that kicker off the field for God’s sake!!!!!”). And as if O’Brien’s short-arming the golden opportunity to ride his stud QB to a 28-0 second quarter lead wasn’t enough, he elects to try and overcompensate for his gutless faux pas on 4th and inches with that horrific fake punt. At that point North Dakota State University would have found it’s momentum and gone on to paste the Texans. In other words, O’Brien bailed out his counterpart Andy Reid before Reid could realize his annual postseason destiny of losing to an inferior team. Luckily for Reid, the Titans pulled off their upset, giving Reid another chance this Sunday. Can the Titans continue to ride the formula of superhuman Derrick Henry grinding away big chunks of yardage, this time going against the worst defense they’ve faced thus far in the playoffs? Hell yeah they can. Will Ryan Tannehill continue to execute his newfound skills as a “game manager,” minimizing turnovers and controlling the clock, thus keeping the dangerous K.C. offense on the sidelines? Well, that’s the question, really. Despite O’Brien’s foibles last weekend, the Chiefs spectacular offensive run once they’d been given their reprieve was absolutely something to behold. Patrick Mahomes is the best QB left in the Final Four (apologies to Rodgers, but it’s true folks), and if K.C. gets rolling again on Sunday this could get ugly quick. Here’s where the edge of Mike Vrabel over Andy Reid makes the ultimate difference. Look for Tennessee to grind out 40 minutes of possession time, and ride 200 yards on the ground from D-Henry to a shocking appearance in Super Bowl LIV. (Titans, 23-20)
Stone cold locks. Take them to the bank. The tide is turning. Winning time, folks, winning time.
See you on Sunday!