Happy New Year, everybody! I hope you feasted on the football bounty during the short few weeks of break – I know I did! December in Oregon is a lot like sliding down a well: the light just gets farther and farther away. But, face it, there’s nothing like day after day of mind-numbing grey skies to make that ol’ flat-screen look good. And, after the last game of the NFL’s regular season, the chips have fallen, the dust is settling and we can finally get a clear view of what the postseason has to offer.
Probably the biggest anticlimax happened in the competitive AFC, where would-be Cinderellas Buffalo, Baltimore and Jacksonville all got shut out, allowing the inconsistent, uninspiring Broncos to slip in under the radar. Who knows, maybe they’ll go into Indy and shock the world! Yeah, right.
OK, out with the Crystal Pigskin, it’s time for my wild-card weekend prophecy!
(Note: if these picks prove to be wrong, it’s clearly an issue of poor officiating.)
Saturday, Jan. 8, 1:30 p.m.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Now, y’all are probably gonna yell at me for this one. It’s not that the Rams don’t suck; it’s that the Seagulls suck worse. Sorry, but I’ve tried to love this team all year, and all they do is wilt. Nice one squeaking by Atlanta’s JV. St. Louis beat the Jets to get in the show. I really hope I’m wrong about this, though. Go Gulls – I mean, ‘Hawks!
Rams 28, Seahawks 24
Saturday, Jan. 8, 5 p.m.
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers
I can’t pick against my Bolts in this one, jinx notwithstanding. The Jets already came into San Diego and won once this year, but the super Chargers are a wholly different team now. Their solid run D will slow Curtis Martin, and Pennington’s a year or two away from having the cojones to pull this one out. Gates and Tomlinson will romp. Look for San Diego to "Brees" their way into the divisional round in an exciting game.
Chargers 35, Jets 28
Sunday, Jan. 9, 10 a.m.
Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
There’s no way Jake Plummer is going to waltz out of the RCA Dome with the W – not even with his hot new Brad Pitt beard. Peyton Manning will eat Champ Bailey’s secondary alive, and the Broncos’ D will have no answer for Edgerrin James, who will rush for 125 yards and 2 TDs. I curse the Colts for beating San Diego in week 16, but I can’t bring myself to go with Denver in this one. Indy in a rout.
Indianapolis 42, Denver 14
Sunday, Jan. 9, 1:30 p.m.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
It sure would be neat for Mike Tice to earn his one-year extension with a win against his bitter conference rivals. He’s just so darn feisty! But seriously, no. I just don’t think they’ve got the gumption to pull it out in a playoff atmosphere – on the Frozen Tundra no less – not when they can’t even take care of business against the Skins! Certainly not against playoff vet Favre, who aches to avenge last year’s collapse in Philly. The Pack takes it.
Green Bay 14, Minnesota 10