Last week I went 3-1 on my picks, and if it weren’t for Andy Reid’s horrible playoff coaching I would have gone 4-0. No use crying over spilled milk, though. A new week offers me a new slate to get to that 4-0 number. And there are some good matchups that should get me there. There are also possibly a couple of surprises waiting to destroy these picks. Let’s hope they get diffused.
Here are my Ace Picks for the Divisional Round…
Atlanta @ PHILADELPHIA – There’s a lot to be said for the overall NFC #1 seed getting its first playoff game as an underdog, at home. I get it. Nick Foles is no Carson Wentz. And the Falcons played well enough last week to at least make you think of the team that went to the Super Bowl last year. But this isn’t the same team, and that Eagles defense is opportunistic (as I’ve stated all season). They get after the quarterback, and will force Ryan into some mistakes. Doubt the Eagles at your own peril. Pick: EAGLES (by 6).
Tennessee @ NEW ENGLAND – This should be a blowout game — on paper. But for some reason I think the momentum from last week’s comeback (and the sheer power of Derrick Henry) keeps the Titans in this one. The recipe for beating Brady and the Bradys is simple: keep Tommy Boy on the bench. So there will be a heavy dose of Henry, and Mariota will keep it going on the ground as well. I just don’t see them able to keep it up for the whole game — on the road. Tom gets his, but it will be close. Pick: PATRIOTS (by 3).
Jacksonville @ PITTSBURGH – All the Steelers need to do is hold serve here and they will get their rematch with the Patriots, but holding serve is a daunting task against the league’s best defense. Most experts are picking Pittsburgh in this one, and I’m really not sure why, other than the revenge narrative. This is the same Jacksonville defense, and they’re hungry to prove it was no fluke the last time. It was no fluke the last time, and I think they make Big Ben look mortal again. Upset Special. Pick: JAGUARS (by 3).
New Orleans @ MINNESOTA – The Vikings lost all of three games all season. They’ve been consistent on both sides of the ball. They have a great defense. They have a balanced offense. I don’t see very many chinks in their armor, especially since Keenum has been playing so well all season. Many are getting on the Saints bandwagon since they took out the Panthers last week, but they match up well against the Panthers. Not so against the Vikes. I think back to the last game of the season when the Saints managed to lose one to the Buccaneers. On the road, it matters. Pick: VIKINGS (by 7).