So, there were no NFL games last week, right? I mean, that had to be the case, not that an intrepid Nuclear Salad writer could miss a deadline and leave you with no AOTS column… I wish, anyway. Truth be told travel, work, and family all conspired to make last week a most hectic time, and led to a gaping void in your NFL reading lives. We’re going to make a big time comeback in this week’s column, though, so big that Kansas City will get all twitchy with flashbacks.
New Orleans at Seattle – Line – Seattle by 8
Tim’s change – Seattle by 10
I don’t see which parts of this game work in the Saints’ favor. They aren’t playing a team with a vacant asphalt lot for defense, they are facing the toughest road crown in the league, the Hawks got a week off to rest, they already bet N’awlins handily once this year. I think this is the only playoff game that will be lackluster. Seattle 27-12
Mike’s change – Seattle by 15
That’s a lot of points for a playoff game, but it’s hard to think anything other than this is the worst possible matchup for the Saints. They’re on the road, outdoors, in likely adverse conditions, in one of the best home fields for any team in any sport, against the best pass defense in the league by a significant margin. If you were making a checklist of things that can screw up how New Orleans likes to play, Seattle ticks all of them. More has to go extraordinarily right for the Saints to win than it does for the Seahawks. Prepare to witness a savage beating to start the divisional round, maybe even with a Beastquake thrown in for old time’s sake.
Indy at New England – Line – New England by 7 1/2
Tim’s change – NE by 3
I know a lot of folks will be bandwagoning on the Colts due to the Luck factor and the miracle comeback and hotstreak. I am bandwagoning on the Colts because..oh have you seen the dudes the Pats are trucking out on defense lately? They have so many injuries the starting LOLB is the guy who drove the ambulance the last time someone got hurt. I think their starting corners use to both work for the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Brady might leads his team to 31 points and still fall by two TDs.
UPSET Special – I believe the Colts will win this game. 28-27 Indy.
Mike’s change – NE by 4
It’s hard to imagine that Indy has any more tricks up their sleeves than they pulled out last week. I watched that game it its entirety, and the majority of my Chiefs fan friends experienced as wide of a swing of emotions as is humanly possible from a sporting event. When it went to 38-17 I made a crack on Facebook that it would be excruciating when KC blew the lead. I am no longer allowed in Kansas City. Anyway, New England has gotten to 12 wins via smoke and mirrors, but I need somebody to come through on my repeated proclamations that the Colts aren’t very good, so hopefully Tom Brady has at least one more trick left in him.
San Fran at Carolina – Line – San Fran by 3
Tim’s change – Carolina by 1
The line started close to even – and then shot to 49ers by 3 when everyone broke out the checkbooks. Simple rule is to never trust whatever the random masses believe. Complicated rule is San Fran is a powerful team now – but they still can’t throw other than to Crabtree and Carolina has overcome the Rivera coaching issues to build a front 7 on par with anyone in football. Low-scoring and don’t count on QB Colin Imhotep to rush for 125 yards. Panthers win 17-14
Mike’s change – San Fran by 4
Biggest difference between their first meeting, Carolina lost their best wideout while San Francisco got theirs back. Otherwise these two teams are almost mirror images of each other, with the main exception being a vast gap in the coaching department. Jim Harbaugh is a nutjob, but he’s also a football savant. Ron Rivera is very even keel, but he may be pulling this whole thing out of his ass. Give me the Niners in a slugfest.
San Diego at Denver – Line – Denver by 9
Tim’s change – Denver by 5
San Diego’s win last week was overrated. The late score meant nothing, they got multiple gift turnovers deep in Bengal territory as well as a Cincy fumble inside the Charger 5. That said, San Diego did beat Denver a month ago and they did it with running and some keen possession time. This third matchup Denver won’t have Von Miller to stop those runs. Now, don’t get crazy – I full expect a Bronco win but I really don’t expect a 52-31 game with 450 passing yards. 28-24 sounds much more realistic to me.
Mike’s change – Denver by 2
I didn’t know that San Diego could do more to embarrass me as a fan fashion wise than their insistence on wearing the powder blues on national televised games. Then, this…
Trust me, rooting for this man is a painful experience. But their offense is playing lights out right now, and their awful defense has suddenly turned competent in the past few weeks. Competent may be all it takes to win this game against a Denver team that can light up the scoreboard but doesn’t have the horses (HAH!) to stop the Chargers offense. Give me San Diego in a nailbiter to further sadden Peyton Manning in the playoffs.