NFL Picks - Conference Championships

AFC Championship

New England @ Denver

Unfortunately for America, and readers of this blog, Cris Collinsworth has called his last game this season. And while I've been assured that he will return to break down the Super Bowl for us, he has decided to take this week off. In another stroke of bad luck, I was informed of a contractual obligation that I had unwittingly made to a past guest of this site. Basically I was left with no choice, so let's just get this over with. Ladies and gentlemen here is my (mandated) Q&A session with the color commentator for this game, Phil Simms:

Sorry about the misunderstanding there Phil. I'd say that I'll make it up to you next time, but I can't imagine there will ever be a next time. Then again, I didn't read that contract, so who knows what else I'll be forced into. As for this game, I'm going to guess that Brady will throw about 50 passes and New England will win.

Patriots 24-20

NFC Championship

Arizona @ Carolina

I have no interest in writing about this game, so I won't. In lieu of actual analysis please enjoy this excerpt from a TV pilot I wrote entitled Rogue Blogger ...


Derek Hendersen sits at his desk, it is littered with writing awards. He stares forlornly at a framed picture of a beautiful woman. She's a 9, at least. Derek's assistant Gerald enters.

                             I just got off the phone with the President, he said your
                             picks won him $6,000 this week. He can finally buy that rug.

                             Good for him.

                            How can you be so glum? You just nailed another week;
                            you haven't been wrong on one game yet this season.
                           You've won every major writing award in the biz, most of
                            them twice.

                            You want 'em? Take 'em.

DEREK waves his hand at those writing awards that I mentioned earlier.


GERALD starts to reach for the nearest award. before DEREK moves it away.


                           What level of professional success will make you happy?

                            I'll never quit until she notices.

DEREK touches the aforementioned picture, so we definitely know who he's talking about.

                                                       DEREK (cont.)
                            I have to get her back, and the only way I know how
                            is by picking the scores of NFL games. None of the
                            other accolades matter. Don't you get it Gerald?

                           Actually it's Arthur now. I had it changed this morning.

                           Really, why?

                           You're not the only one with a past ...

                           Hmm, that sounds like something interesting that
                           could be explored in the weeks and months to come.
                          You're not as one-dimensional as somebody might have
                           thought upon their first reading ... of you.

ARTHUR nods and the two sit in silence for a moment really soaking it in because there's a lot of pathos involved.
                           So what now then? What are you going to do in the
                          meantime until she wises up and realizes what a catch
                          you are both in terms of looks and personality?

                          The same thing I always do ... Pick some fucking games.


*NOTE: "fucking" can be taken out if this ends up being bought by a network.

Cardinals 23-20


NFL Picks - Divisonal Round

Before we get to the picks for this week I wanted to touch on a couple of factoids that I find pretty interesting. If you don't think you'll feel the same you can simply skip down to the games, but I'd really appreciate it if you didn't. I mean, we've come this far together, the least you could do is trust me when I need you most ... Anyway, as you may have heard, four of the eight remaining starting quarterbacks were #1 overall draft picks, but it's also worth noting that the other four are all Super Bowl winners. So clearly, the pedigree of these signal-callers is high. Another seemingly coincidental tidbit plays directly into the NFL's year-long celebration of Super Bowl history. Rematches of the big game have been highlighted throughout the season, and the odds that we see a Super Bowl repeat in number 50 are pretty good. In fact, of the 16 possible Super Bowl match-ups, nine of them would be rematches of past title games. Not only that, but every remaining team has at least one past Super Bowl opponent left in the field. Fascinating stuff, right?!? Why are you making that face? Fine, I'll move on.


Kansas City @ New England

When last these squadrons met, the Chiefs decimated the Patriots 41-14, a final tally that had some calling for Jimmy Garoppolo to replace Tom Brady as New England's starting quarterback; and for once it wasn't just Garoppolo via Bill Belichick's suggestion box (Really just a paper shredder that Belichick sarcastically referred to once as a "suggestion box." Garoppolo has been submitting his two cents to it multiple times a week for over two years now). As we all know now, the Patriots' 2014 season took a turn for the better after the throttling in Kansas City, but perhaps there are lessons we can learn from that contest. Then again, perhaps not. I don't have a copy of the game handy, so who knows? If I had to guess about this one (and I do, that's mostly the point here) I'd say that a healthy-ish New England team will be the ones that finally stop the Chiefs' impressive winning streak.

Patriots 27-17  

Green Bay @ Arizona

This is NBC's final broadcast of the season, meaning it's the last time we'll get the privilege of hearing Cris Collinsworth on the mic until August. But fear not, he's here with us right now to break down this interesting match-up:

Hmm, seems like CriColl got a bit off topic by the end there, but I tend to agree with him. While there may be some early rust for the Cardinals, I think they'll overcome whatever the resulting deficit is and get the win.

Cardinals 31-24


Seattle @ Carolina

After dominating the Vikings last Sunday, the Seahawks move on to a Divisional Round game on the road, a scenario that has been the bane of this franchise's recent existence. Since 2003, when Seattle started making the playoffs with regularity, their playoff record is 12-8. Over that same stretch, their record in Divisional Round games on the road is 0-4. So, not great. But that was then, this is now (a phrase that you can use in any non-time travel situation with absolute certainty) and since Russell Wilson has been quarterback the Seahawks have only played in one such game, an agonizingly close loss to the Falcons in which Wilson piloted a 21 point fourth quarter comeback to take the lead with less than a minute left. In other words, the challenge before Seattle does not seem as insurmountable as it may have in the past. Now, is beating a 15-1 Panthers team who hasn't lost a home game all season going to be easy? Probably not. But I don't think it will take a miracle, or pixie dust, or some sort of magical ointment either. Although, the magical ointment couldn't hurt. I'm not saying you have to use a ton; in this case, a little dab'll do ya.

Seahawks 23-16  

Pittsburgh @ Denver

This is a tough one to pick because of all the unknowns going in. Will Ben Roethlisberger play? If so, how effective will he be? What type of performance will we see from Peyton Manning? Who really shot Kennedy? Why did The General used to have a penguin with him in those car insurance commercials?  Look, not all of my questions have to do with this game in particular, but the ones that do are extremely pertinent to the outcome. I get the feeling that Roethlisberger will play, but his performance will be hampered by his injured shoulder and the Broncos' top-notch defense. As for Manning, he won't be great, but he won't have to be.

Broncos 20-17



NFL Picks - Wild Card Round


Kansas City @ Houston

These teams met all the way back in Week 1. I like to imagine that at the coin toss before this game one team's captain will look at the other's and say, "We started this thing together, might as well finish it together." Then they'll grasp hands Predator style, oblivious to the fact the verbiage of that sentence means that they've just unwittingly agreed to end both of their seasons. I mean "finish it together"? What were you guys thinking? The ref would have no choice but to cancel the whole game at that point. So, hopefully they don't say that, as cool as it might initially sound. Really it wouldn't make much sense for either team to forfeit considering how well they've been playing over the last few months. The Chiefs have won 10 in a row, while the Texans have won 7 of their last 9 with a quarterback cavalcade. It's a shame that the run has to end for someone here, but as I already stated, in all likelihood it will for one team, and only one team. I'll go with Kansas City because, well, I think they're better.

Chiefs 20-16

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

Another year, and another Wild Card game for the Bengals, their fifth straight. And, as I'm sure you're aware, Cincinnati has lost in the each of those first round games the previous four seasons, unless, of course, you've been living under a rock. And if that's the case, please come inside, I have blankets and hot cocoa for you. Just sit right down and we'll call your family, they're probably very worried. Can I get you anything to eat? I have a few different types of soup; do you have a preference? Hell, anything that doesn't have worms in it would probably be fine for you at this point, right? I'm sorry, that joke was terribly crass. I in no way was trying to make light of your former predicament. Let's change the subject. Playoff pariah Andy Dalton will likely be unable to start for the Bengals, leaving them with AJ McCarron under center. Of course, the perfect scenario would be McCarron establishing a lead for Cincinnati before an injury forces him to exit the game, and Dalton to enter. You can probably guess what happens next, Dalton and the Bengals collapse and the city of Cincinnati collectively boos for the next eight months. A time during which Andy Dalton will wish he could just crawl under a rock and die ... Oh my God, I'm so sorry, it just slipped out.

Steelers 24-17


Seattle @ Minnesota

Before we get to my thoughts on this game let's get some insight from the man who will call it for NBC, the unrivaled Cris Collinsworth:

CriColl wasn't lying about that Freezer Bowl, in fact, Sunday will be its 34th anniversary. Here's the full info. The weather and the reequipped Vikings defense should make this game closer than the last time the Seahawks traveled to Minnesota. However, it would take a cold day in hell, not a sub-zero day in Minneapolis, for me to pick against Seattle.

Seahawks 27-16

Green Bay @ Washington

I've heard multiple NFL pundits debate this week over whether they'd rather have Aaron Rodgers or Kirk Cousins as their starting quarterback right now. The answer is Aaron Rodgers. Anybody who says otherwise is just a contrarian or Cousins' parents (note: in this case "Cousins' parents" does not refer to your aunt and uncle). Now, who's team would I rather have right now? That's the debatable issue. The Packers are clearly in a bit of a funk as they enter the playoffs without the NFC North title to their name for the first time since 2010. Of course, they won the Super Bowl that season, so this may not be the worst situation for them to be in. Meanwhile, Washington has won four in a row and boasts an impressive 6-2 home record. However, a closer look at their schedule reveals that they're 0-2 against playoff teams. It's not so much the fact that they lost both of those games, it's that they only played in two of them. Conversely, the Packers are 3-4 in such contests this season. I think Green Bay's difficult schedule and recent playoff participation will provide the experience necessary for them to edge the home team.

Packers 26-23


NFL Picks - Week 17

I realize that due to the fact that it's New Year's Day some, most, or all of you are reading this through a bleary-eyed hangover. Not to worry, just press play on any or all of the following yacht rock jams, and let it be the soothing soundtrack to your reading experience. By the time you're done the calming tunes will have washed you ashore on the beach of an island upon which alcohol-induced dehydration is merely a myth.

Sunday Morning

New York Jets @ Buffalo

Bills coach Rex Ryan will be attempting to keep his former team out of the playoffs in this one. Perhaps he's planning on doing it by simply filling up the doorway to the postseason with his body. Wait, he's not even that big anymore. Gastric bypass surgery has ruined yet another joke. One thing's for sure, Jets fans wouldn't be able to stomach a loss; it would eat away at them for the entire offseason. But I don't believe that New York will choke.

Jets 23-20

New England @ Miami

Is it possible that the Patriots intentionally lost to the Jets last Sunday to help keep the Steelers out of the postseason? They really don't want to see them in the playoffs. That's taking it to a whole other level. Of course, this theory is being purported by New England apologists who would rather not just face the fact that they lost, in part, because Bill Belichick decided to kick off in overtime. Seems like he out-thought himself on that one; it makes one wonder if he'd try the same thing in a playoff game should that situation arise. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that that's exactly what happens. Don't ask how. Even if I explained my methods to you you probably wouldn't understand.

Patriots 30-19

New Orleans @ Atlanta

The Falcons have managed to win consecutive games, but it's too late, there is no longer any chance of them nabbing an NFC wild card. They're like a student who's desperately trying to do enough make-up work so that he can graduate high school. Sorry kid, you're stuck here for another year. And guess what, the junior class chicks are nowhere near as hot as your graduating class. Bummer!

Falcons 34-31

Baltimore @ Cincinnati

With their loss last week the Bengals have positioned themselves as the likely #3 seed in the AFC, which would result in perhaps the tensest first round home playoff crowd in recent memory. Not only has Cincinnati lost in the Wild Card round the last four seasons, they also got bounced in the same spot after '05 and '09. By the way, that '09 loss was to the Jets, a possible Wild Card opponent this season. It should be uncomfortably fun to watch no matter what happens.

Bengals 24-14

Pittsburgh @ Cleveland

The Steelers may have blown their chance at the playoffs in a lackluster loss to the Ravens. Sorry, 'lackluster' may not be a strong enough adjective, let's go with 'unconscionable.' It just doesn't make any sense, there's no rhyme or reason to it. If you wanted to make the argument that the universe is a series of random events, that would be the game to point to. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was directed by the Coen brothers. I expect Pittsburgh to come out and get the win this Sunday, but then again, expectations are only a taunting mistress, existing only to inherently disappoint.

Steelers 33-17  

Jacksonville @ Houston

One of the most interesting subplots of the Jaguars' season has been the predictable and satisfying weight gain of former Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He pops up every so often on the NFL Network, and each time I see him he's heavier than before. Let me be clear here, I'm not attempting to body shame MJD, I'm just saying that I thoroughly enjoy when a former pro athlete who's been through years of rigorous workouts and stringent dieting retires, says "Eff all that," and proceeds to eat and relax with great enthusiasm. Kudos to you MJD ... as in the candy bar ... go grab yourself a Kudos.

Texans 24-20

Tennessee @ Indianapolis

It's possible that Stephen Morris, Ryan Lindley, or Josh Freeman will start at quarterback for the Colts. This is such a ridiculous predicament that the jokes practically write themselves ... Umm ... Uhh ... Ok, I guess the jokes aren't writing themselves. Let's move on. Unbelievably, with one game left in the season Indianapolis has a chance to win the AFC South with, to use a stat normally reserved for baseball, a magic number of 7 ... Or maybe even higher, the various permutations get pretty confusing. All I know is that many things have to happen for the Colts to get to the playoffs, and it begins with the Titans rolling over in an effort to maintain their #1 pick in the 2016 draft.

Colts 9-6 

Washington @ Dallas

In one of the more hilarious plays I can remember, Kirk Cousins performed a kneel down with no timeouts and a clock ticking under :10 in the first half of Saturday's win over the Eagles. He clearly wanted to spike the ball but had a momentary lapse in judgment, or awareness, or motor skills. No matter what the impetus was, I'm thrilled that it happened and thankful that I was able to witness it. I'm now left to wonder what would have happened if someone had told Cousins to spike the punch at the team Christmas party. I'm not sure either team will care about winning this game, which should make it extremely enjoyable.

Cowboys 17-16

Philadelphia @ New York Giants

Chip Kelly was fired as the Eagles coach and general manager this week. My question is, was he fired from both positions at the same time? What I'm getting at is did Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie make Chip the GM fire Chip the coach? And what exactly would that have looked like? Personally I would have just done it by e-mail to avoid confrontation.

Giants 31-17

Detroit @ Chicago

These are two of the six NFC teams that are currently 6-9. What a bunch of juvenile jokesters. Clearly they saw the direction their seasons were going and they all thought it would just be soooo hilarious wind up at 6-9 heading into the final week of the season. Maybe they didn't take into account what would happen if a little boy had to ask his father why he was laughing when they were reading the NFL standings together. Still think it's funny NFC teams?!? Me too! Great gag guys! If nothing else it just promotes sexual education.

Lions 24-19

Sunday Afternoon

Tampa Bay @ Carolina

Even Cam Newton would have to admit that the Panthers' effort last week was pretty drab ... I'm losing steam folks! But hey, aren't we all? We're at Week 17 after all. It's been a long season of drinking, eating poorly, screaming at TVs and people, and punching stuff ... You all did that too, right?

Panthers 27-17

Oakland @ Kansas City

Thanks to the aforementioned Carolina loss last Sunday, this game now features the hottest team in the NFL. Sorry Derek Carr, I meant in terms of winning streaks, not attractiveness. Besides, you wear too much mascara bro, it looks desperate. The Chiefs still have a shot at winning the AFC West, so look for them to be all systems go en route to their 10th straight victory.

Chiefs 27-17

San Diego @ Denver

The Al Jazeera report regarding Peyton Manning and HGH seems scandalous and possibly damning, but I tend to believe that the drugs were actually being used by Manning's wife. The reason I believe that is because of another tidbit that came out this week: during his rehab in 2011 Peyton Manning regularly watched Hoda and Kathie Lee on The Today Show. So it's clear that a few years ago the Mannings were doing attempting a gender swap. Mrs. Manning was beefing up while Peyton was doing the most feminine thing he could think of. I'm not even going to begin to imagine what might have been happening in their bedroom, but I'm willing to bet that their safe word was "Omaha."

Broncos 21-13

St. Louis @ San Francisco

With a win over the 49ers, the Rams would finish 5-1 against the NFC West this season. It's an impressive feat that the St. Louis players will be able to tell everybody about at their various playoff viewing parties. To which the other guests will reply, "You already told us that five times. Also, what's your name? Like who are you here with?" Man, that's going to be pretty embarrassing for those guys.

Rams 22-16

Seattle @ Arizona

The Cardinals clinched the NFC West a couple of weeks ago, rendering this contest merely about playoff seeding. However, I believe the Seahawks should attempt an age old pro wrestling tactic and challenge the Cardinals to put their title on the line right here, right now! C'mon, 'Zona, you say you're the champ, why not prove it in the ring (field)?!? Afraid you'll lose? After hearing that the Cardinals would be left with little choice but to make this a title match.

Seahawks 27-23 

Sunday Night

Minnesota @ Green Bay

It's the NFC North championship game, and here once again to break it down for us, I'm proud to say, is Cris Collinsworth:

Bold pick CriColl, but I know better than to go against you. You're so smart. Never leave us again. I don't know what we'd do ... Ahhumm, uh anyway, yeah I'll go with Minnesota as well.

Vikings 23-20