(Keep in mind I probably just jinxed myself - So go with my AFC picks this time around).
This week I'm gonna stick to my gut, a.k.a., what I'm leaning towards. Because if we analyze last weekend's picks, I said, "The Jets have every reason to believe they will win this game. And regardless of the lines, they are the odds on favorite to do so. And just because I can't stand them so much, they will likely win this game. Everything is in their favor. They're probably the better team" aaaand, "I'm leaning towards the Ravens", right before I proceeded to pick the other teams and lose. Translation: Go with the teams you think are gonna win Talbot! So I think I'm gonna give that a try. Unless, of course, I'm leaning towards the Jets. Because I pretty much refuse to pick them.
Onto the picks...
Arizona @ New Orleans:
I kind of want to come back to this. All last week and up until now, I have been boldly predicting that the Cardinals were going to win the Super Bowl. But let's review a few things about their game last week against the Packers:
1. There were 1,024 total yards
2. 13 TDs were scored between the two teams
3. 96 total points were scored
4. Rackers can't come through in the clutch
(In fact, judging by the lack of confidence on Rackers' face as he was warming up to come through in a clutch situation, I'd say Rackers would be the second to last athlete I would ask to come through for me in the clutch. Last would of course be Minnesota Twins closer, Joe Nathan. I've never seen a pitcher look more nervous than he was when facing A-Rod in the bottom of the 9th of the ALDS this year. Usually, I expect A-Rod to fail, but there was almost no doubt in my mind he would hit a game-tying home run in that situation. Nathan was shaking. A-Rod must have been laughing inside).
5. The Cardinals literally showed zero ability to stop the Packers offense that game. I don't know how they won on a defensive play, but that doesn't take away from the fact that they had no answer for Green Bay.
In summary, Arizona didn't look like a Super Bowl champ last weekend. But then again, let's review the positives:
1. Kurt Warner through more TDs (5) than incompletions (4)
(By the way: 29/33 379 yards & 5 TDs -- not a perfect passer rating. But: 8/10 173 yards & 2 TDs -- is a perfect passer rating. Go figure. Sounds like a good statistic).
2. Warner was sacked once and never turned the ball over against the #2 defense in the NFL
3. The Cardinals ran the ball well
4. They scored 51 points in 57 plays -- that's efficiency!! And...
5. Warner has 31 TDs in 12 career playoff games.
(Marino had 32 in 18 games -- Might Warner be the best QB in playoff history?? Wasn't he in the CFL for most of his prime athletic years?? Why doesn't any of this make sense??)
Picking the Saints to lose is a pretty chic pick it seems, since they've dropped their last three games, heading into the postseason. But let's not forget, this is the same team that dominated the Giants and Patriots on national television. Oh wait, I forgot that's not impressive anymore. Suisham gave the Saints a win against the Redskins. No one should need to be given a win against the Redskins. The Saints were dominated by the Cowboys. No one should give Jerry Jones the satisfaction of ending a team's perfect season. The Saints blew a 17-point lead to the Buccaneers. The Buccaneers had like 3 wins this year. Remind me again why I considered picking the Saints?? And yet I still feel like I should pick the Saints. Their offense is so explosive. They've had two weeks to come up with unstoppable plays. As the Cardinals showed us, they won't be stopping the Saints offense. Folks, that 96-point record might not be safe or even last a week. This is a real conundrum. The Saints haven't proven they can beat anyone special, the Cardinals are my pick to win the Super Bowl, and yet I'm still having so much trouble picking the Cardinals. My mind is telling me to lean towards the Saints by a score of 41-20. But I'm gonna go against everything I said in the opening two paragraphs of this article and take the Cards anyway. I feel like their defense will play with something to prove. That won't get them very far against the Saints offense, but I think it'll slow them up just enough to give the Cards the edge. Maybe. For all the gamblers out there, go with the Saints.
Cardinals 41 - Saints 37
(The 41 will not be because of 2 Rackers FGs, rather a missed extra point by mister un-clutch)
I don't blame you if you've stopped reading at this point, because that was the longest pick in the history of picks made by people other than Bill Simmons. But I promise you these next three will be shorter.
Baltimore @ Indianapolis:
The battle of the Colts of old and the Colts of new is the only thing holding the AFC playoff picture together (with the Jets still being alive in the other game). Only problem is: Colts-Ravens games usually turn out close to as boring as any Jets game. Earlier this season the Colts toughed out a 17-15 victory over the Ravens. In 2007, the last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the Colts won 15-6 in a game that featured no FGs. In this matchup, the Colts usually win, and touchdowns are few and far between. Everything football fans aren't looking for in a game, is right here. I predict the Ravens will run the ball at least 50 times, pass maybe 10 times. I also think we'll see that the regular season-Colts were a little overrated again, as the playoff-Colts fall short of their goal, and prove, once again, that resting your players may prevent late-season injuries, but it doesn't win Super Bowls. Then Colts fans can look back on this season and remember 3 things:
1. Their team completely gave up on a perfect 16-0 season, something every team strives for.
2. They let the Jets into the playoffs (It might not hurt them, but it certainly hurts me and the NFL ratings this quarter).
3. They didn't even win the Super Bowl, keeping the streak of resting your players and not winning the Super Bowl alive.
(They didn't rest Peyton the year they won it. There's a fun fact)
Ravens 18 - Colts 13
Dallas @ Minnesota:
Why do these games have to be so hard to pick? This playoffs is so wide-open its unreal. Which is why when its all said and done the Jets will probably be Super Bowl champs, somehow, someway. I sure hope not. I already vowed to retire from watching football if they did (And now there's written proof I actually said that). But anyways, everyone is picking Dallas to win this one. Most are picking Dallas to win the Super Bowl. With the exception of me (Cardinals) and Rex Ryan (Jets). Minnesota is pretty damn good though. Their offense is explosive and their defense is pretty good too. It's a very balanced team. Unfortunately for them, Dallas might be just as explosive and just as strong on defense. This is gonna have to be my toss-up game of the week. And since there are no reports that Romo went to Mexico before this week's game or that he's dating anyone at this time, I'm gonna have to go with Dallas in this one. That's right. I'm not taking Dallas because I think they're better or because I think they matchup well against Minnesota, but because Tony Romo didn't go to Mexico this week.
Cowboys 31 - Vikings 24
New York Jets @ San Diego:
I could probably wrap this pick up in one sentence, but I will give the Jets credit where credit is do. The Jets defense is the best in the NFL. Their run game...is not; regardless of statistics. But it's still very good. Brian Schottenheimer called a great game offensively for them against Cincinnati. It was an offensive plan that could work really well throughout the playoffs, if run mistake-free. Early on in the season on my radio show, I compared the Jets defense to the Giants' of 2007-08. The Giants slowly transitioned into Spagnuolo's defensive plan, but by the end of the season, it was scary how good they were. I thought the same would happen for the Jets transition with Ryan. But the Jets started out clicking on all cylinders, and haven't skipped a beat all year. With this to be said, Mark Sanchez is still a rookie quarterback. A quarterback a team has no real confidence in right now. You just can't bring in a kick returner/wide receiver on 3rd-and-long, because you're afraid your QB will turn it over, and still expect to win the Super Bowl. There needs to be balance at both ends. The defense is there. The offense is not. And although defense wins championships, this year, with defenses across the NFL slumping and offenses sifting through the record books, I don't think that will be the case. San Diego's offense is really, really good. Arguably better than the Colts, in my opinion. In fact, if the Jets were playing the Colts, I might take the Jets. I think the Chargers is a tougher match for them. Revis is the best corner in football. But Vincent Jackson is no easy task to matchup against. He's more physical than Revis. Not like Chad, Reggie, or Steve. I think Jackson actually has the upper hand. Then there's Gates, who's almost unguardable. And if that's not enough, there's Sproles and Ladanian. I'm willing to admit the fact that the Jets are a pretty damn good football team. But they ran into the favorite to win the Super Bowl. This game is win-win for me. I'm obviously not a big fan of the Jets, but you know what, I can't stand Phillip Rivers even more. At least, after this game, one of them will be out of the playoff picture. Unfortunately for Jets fans, although I think their team is well-deserving of respect, I think their Cinderella story has come to an end.
Jets 13 - Chargers 26
Images taken from Google Images