Last Week: 8-8
Regular Season: 127-121-8
Last Week: 5-11
Regular Season: 123-125-8
San Francisco (-3) @ Green Bay
Ryan: The big story of the week, which entertained the idea that the Packers might not sell out a playoff game at Lambeau Field and might have the game blacked out on television, was so fucking stupid from so many different angles. First, the organization made season ticketholders prepay for all three rounds of playoff tickets about a month ago when the team had about a 5.5% chance of even making it in.
The Packers season ticket base is not a wealthy one, and even though they would ultimately get reimbursed WHEN the games (especially the next two rounds) didn’t happen at Lambeau, that’s their Christmas present money — two tickets alone is the better part of a grand in that transaction. And so the team — who for whatever reason couldn’t just charge credit cards in the event the games happen like the Eagles are doing – had to move 40,000 tickets this week as the fans got dragged through the mud for not wanting to sit in the cold. (And it’s gonna be so fucking cold, but I assure you we will be loud and proud on Sunday.)
There was never going to be any television blackout in these playoffs for any of these three games, and anybody who said there might’ve been was using scare tactics to sell tickets or pageviews.
I love this Packers team, they’re playing with house money, and I’m rolling with faith over reason. Green Bay covers.
Asif: I’m a little bit torn here. The 49ers were my preseason pick to win it all, and I like the way they’ve put things together over the past couple weeks. On the other hand, Green Bay is starting to have that team of destiny feeling, kind of like the 2007 Giants. Like those 2007 Giants they got a big assist from a collapsing division rival. That’s really my only true point of comparison between the teams, but I’m rolling with it. Packers cover.
Kansas City @ Indianapolis (-2)
Ryan: It’s really hard to come up with some sort of binding, cogent prognostication for this game because Indianapolis is so bi-polar. In the regular season, they beat San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Kansas City but lost to Miami and San Diego and badly to St. Louis, Arizona, and Cincinnati.
The Chiefs faltered down the stretch. After starting out 9-0, they finished 2-5 (though last week their back-ups took San Diego to overtime, so that one really shouldn’t count against them).
Again, this is a guess more than anything else because it’s impossible to project the Colts on a week-to-week basis, but this is essentially a rematch from two weeks ago when the Chiefs couldn’t throw the ball and turned it over three times in a 23-7 loss. Feels like they’re the team that peaked too soon this year. Colts cover.
Asif: The Chiefs probably did peak too early, but the Colts haven’t been the same since losing Reggie Wayne. I’ll go against recent history and pick the Chiefs to cover.
New Orleans @ Philadelphia (-2.5)
Ryan: It is alarming that the line is so low when so many aspects of this game appear to be so squarely in Philadelphia’s favor. They finished the year 7-1. Nick Foles led the league in passer rating. Every pundit in the universe has spent the past month gargling Chip Kelly’s balls. The Saints sucked away from the Superdome this season and the franchise has never won a road playoff game.
While the other three games are still struggling to attract fans, the Eagles sold out in three minutes. It’s Saturday night and the crowd is gonna be fucking wasted.
For all but the most elite gamblers, these spreads amount almost entirely to coin flips. Therefore, it’s not really more outrageous to play the VEGAS KNOWS SOMETHING card and say Saints cover than it would be to build a logical case for the Eagles and roll with it.
Asif: It snowed quite a bit in New York last night. I know this because they started clearing the sidewalk by my bedroom window with a snowblower around 7AM and continued to do so for another two hours. I’m way too lazy to look at how much it snowed in Philly, but I’m assuming it’s around the same amount.
The temperature in Philly isn’t supposed to rise above 18 degrees today and 31 degrees tomorrow. All of that means it will be miserable on the field on Saturday. If the snow had come a day later I would give the Saints zero chance in this game, but regardless I like the Eagles’ more run-heavy offense under the current conditions. Philly covers.
San Diego @ Cincinnati (-7)
Ryan: I don’t really know why I feel this way, but for whatever reason it seemed like the Bengals were shakier down the stretch than my research is now showing — their loss in Pittsburgh three weeks ago overly stuck in my mind. They actually finished the year 5-1, which included a 34-17 victory over a Ravens team that would’ve made the playoffs with a win, a 42-14 shellacking of a Vikings squad that had just badly beaten the Eagles the week before, a 42-28 besting of the Colts that was even less close than the score indicates, and a 7-point win over these Chargers.
The Chargers, meanwhile, only even made it into the playoffs because Miami and Baltimore lost last week and played against a Chiefs team that was playing backups at key positions, missed a game-winning 41-yard field goal in overtime, and probably should’ve had another (even closer) shot at it on an uncalled San Diego penalty. So.
Anyways, all of this is to say that I’m not even thinking about veering from my coin flip strategy. Heads is Chargers, tails is Bengals. San Diego covers.
Asif: I for one am thrilled to have Philip Rivers back in the playoffs if only because it lets me re-use my favorite sports .gif of 2013.
I could watch that for hours. Here’s another angle.
Rivers truly is a man of many faces, most of them awesome. Which one will we see on Sunday? I predict this one: