I used to do an NFL picks post every week against the spread. Every week, every game, and damn it was humbling. I’d hover around .500 all season, and the post would take me FOREVER to write, after studying odds (anybody who just picks winners without taking the spread into account is wasting your time), figuring out how each team matched up with one another, checking injury reports … it’s not something I recommend for a blogger trying to write posts instead of leaving the office for lunch.
But picking the NFC and AFC Championship games? That’s more my speed. Two games to pick, four teams we’ve all seen a ton of by this point, it’s easy as eating way too many dollar hot dogs at the Oakland Coliseum. Except for getting the predictions right, of course.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
Favorite: Packers (-3.5)
People are absolutely in love with the Packers, and there are a few reasons.
1. People LOVE to pick the Packers for anything, or to root for the Packers in general. They’re like the Cubs, only with a winning history.
2. The Packers have won two straight road games and four games in a row overall, including routs of the Giants and the Falcons.
3. Aaron Rodgers is the only likable quarterback left, especially since we were recently reminded that Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the only QB in the AFC Championship Game to skate on a rape charge (yet, Rick Reilly decided that Jay Cutler is the NFL’s villain du jour).
I’m not buying it. The Packers should have won, then should have lost, then won their first playoff game in Philadelphia. This is a team that has a habit of screwing up should-be wins at the end (which is why all of their losses this season have been by either 3 or 4 points). The oddsmakers are taking advantage of all the Packer love, but they also must think that the Packers are at least five points better on a neutral field. And if this postseason has showed us anything (cough … Pats/Jets … cough), whenever everyone thinks something is a sure thing, it’s probably not going to happen.
Lost in the game against the Falcons was that rookie James Starks only ran for 66 yards on 25 carries. And the fact that I went to Zeke’s on my way to watch the eventual NL West-clinching game at AT&T to check out the Niners game, and I was asked to move (in a crowded bar with no available seating) because some woman (sitting at a table) in a Rodgers jersey couldn’t see one of the 20 TV screens showing the Packers game. Stupid cheeseheads.
Prediction: Bears 20, Packers 16.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Favorite: Steelers (-3.5)
The Colts were not good this year. The Jets barely beat them two weeks ago. The Patriots were out of their element, with Wes Fackin’ Welkah doing stand-up leading up to last weekend’s game in New England, a game where Tom Brady wouldn’t have played any worse if he was wearing the UGG boots he’s endorsing (of course, since they’re man-UGGs I call them “MUGGs”). The Jets beat them, and now Rex Ryan has gone from ridiculous blowhard to respected blowhard who’s a master motivator, or something.
As much as I’m tired of the Steelers, and resent the idea that they’re going to probably win their 7th Super Bowl before the 49ers have a chance to go for No. 6, I think that’s what we’re headed for. They’re the team with the fewest weaknesses, the most experience, and the best playoff quarterback alive. I bet Roger Goodell can’t wait to see Big Ben not answer a bunch of character questions during media day in a week and a half.
Prediction: Steelers 28, Jets 17