Sorry for missing the Wild Card weekend, but one of my students turned me on to a little computer game called "World of Warcraft." I got a ten-day free trial, and I've been sitting, ashen-faced, slack-jawed and red-eyed in my basement on my laptop for the past 240 hours. No kidding, this freaking thing makes meth look like Diet Coke. Don't get it unless you've just won the lottery or something. I suppose I might actually watch this weekend's games.
Indianapolis at Baltimore
Okay, Manning sucks in the playoffs. There's just no other way to say it. Having admitted that, this feels like one of those unpredictable blowout games for either team. I don't see this as a close game at all, even from the start. If Indy's offense can get rolling and Peyton has one of his 350-yard, four touchdown games, it's not even close. But if he throws picks and their offense can't stop the Ravens' ground game, then it's over by halftime for the Colts. By the way, the Ravens only beat three playoff teams in the regular season, and one of them was Kansas City. They lost to Denver, Carolina and Cincinnati, and Indy beat Denver and Cincy convincingly. Most of the "experts" don't give Indy a chance, and Peyton sucks in the playoffs, and Baltimore's defense is unbeatable. The pick is clear.
Colts 31, Ravens 17
Philadelphia at New Orleans
I've spent the entire season doubting the Saints, but not this week. The Eagles are pretty much out of ammo after perservering through a brutal schedule and an unexpected (and well-deserved) division title. But there's a reason why New Orleans beat Philly, the Giants and the Cowboys soundly in the regular season—head coach Sean Payton knows these teams intimately thanks to his time in the division as a Dallas assistant. Look for the Saints offense to have a big, big celebration, N'Awlin's style.
Saints 38, Eagles 16
Seattle at Chicago
Seattle just sucks. The only reason they're in the playoffs at all is because the Rams sucked just a bit more (two field goals worth, to be exact). They got a gift last week from Tony Romo. They don't belong in this game, and the Bears are going to make them pay. I don't care how bad Rex Grossman has been; the Bears defense is probably going to be good for 2-3 TDs, either directly or by setup. This one won't be close.
Bears 35, Seahawks 10
New England at San Diego
Oh, Belichick's a genius! Oh, Tom Brady is the greatest QB ever! Oh, Marty Schottenheimer can't win in the playoffs. Please. San Diego is the best team in the AFC, and their defense is going to expose the fraud that is the Patriots' offense. They will shut down the run, close down the passing lanes and hit Brady hard over and over again. Belichick can game plan to stop LT all he wants; it doesn't mean he has the players to execute against San Diego's offensive line. First rule of gambling: when everyone is picking the same team, pick the other team (see NCAA BCS Championship).
Chargers 27, Patriots 17