Last Week: 10-6
Overall: 162-93-1

Chiefs @ Colts


Just two weeks ago, the Colts took a hammer to the Chiefs, which was indicative of each team’s season. Indianapolis routinely played up to competition and surprised a handful of quality playoff teams by pulling off the upset only to then suck against mediocre opponents. Meanwhile, Kansas City beat up on garbage all year to take advantage of a weak schedule, but the Chiefs looked consistently overmatched against good teams. Can Alex Smith win a road playoff game? Given the right circumstances, the answer is yes. Kansas City will need to pressure Andrew Luck and control the clock through Jamaal Charles and their running game. But the Chiefs will be in trouble if Luck launches a few bombs downfield because Kansas City is not a quick strike passing offense that can post 30 points. Something tells me that this will be a low scoring first half with Kansas City out to an early lead, but the Colts will adjust after the half and rely on the playmaking ability of T.Y. Hilton. Expect Trent Richardson to continue to look like a replacement level runner, but he could make a difference catching passes out of the backfield. Ultimately, I think Andrew Luck pulls another horseshoe out of his ass with a comeback playoff win to add to his resume.

Win: Indianapolis Colts, 27-23

Saints @ Eagles

A lot of shit has been said about the inability of the Saints to travel on the road away from New Orleans in the cold and still be productive at a high level. This script is eerily reminiscent of last decade’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers heading into Philadelphia against the Eagles. New Orleans already has a Super Bowl pedigree, but the Saints have been inconsistent due to their lack of a running game—not the temperature. Without Reggie Bush on the roster anymore and an aging Darren Sproles, New Orleans is clearly lacking an explosive element from the RB position. Pierre Thomas was surprisingly effective when healthy but he’s injured and out so the Saints will need Sproles to break a few screens or bust a return. No one would be shocked if the New Orleans pulls off the road win, but the Saints will need to pressure Philadelphia into mistakes. The problem is that the Eagles have protected the football with Nick Foles at the helm instead of Michael Vick. Expect LeSean McCoy to slash and gash his way to paydirt. Even without a defense, Chip Kelly should be able to creatively scheme enough offensive production to just outlast a last-minute surge.

Win: Philadelphia Eagles, 31-28

Chargers @ Bengals

Do I have to pick a winner in this match-up? Neither quarterback is particularly likable or trustworthy. After last week’s evening slate of games, I was surprised to see the tie-breaker scenarios play into the favor of the San Diego Chargers. No one expected the Chargers, which makes them dangerous. Playing with house money, San Diego has nothing to lose and everything to gain. As a Colts fan and Peyton Manning supporter, I’m still scarred from the Billy Volek Game and the repeated lucky breaks that enabled the old Chargers to pull off surprising upsets. Although I don’t expect history to repeat itself on Sunday, San Diego has better playmakers suited for the cold weather and snowy grounds. If Danny Woodhead converts on 3rd down, the Chargers could exhaust the Cincinnati defensive line and control the intermediate to deep areas with Antonio Gates and Keenan Allen. Despite my reservations about Ginger Nation, the Bengals have a far superior defense and I still believe Gio Bernard will become a Ray Rice-eseque piece to relieve pressure and much-needed defensive attention from A.J. Green downfield.

Win: Cincinnati Bengals, 24-17

49ers @ Packers

San Francisco has owned Green Bay in every recent match-up. Right now, the 49ers are the hottest team in football after beating the Arizona Cardinals last week, which means logic dictates that the Packers don’t stand much of a chance even in Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers holds the only hope for Green Bay, but he’s just coming off a multi-week absence and none of his supporting cast seems completely healthy. In frigid temperatures, San Francisco’s strong running game with zone-reads sprinkled into the mix provide more explosiveness than Green Bay’s boom or bust passing attack. If Kaepernick turns the ball over, then the Packers could just jump onto Eddie Lacy’s ample posterior. But I anticipate Jim Harbaugh outsmarting Mike McCarthy by minimizing the responsibility on his young quarterback to instead battle the Packers with his strong defensive front. Ultimately, the linebackers for San Francisco will ensure success or defeat for the 49ers as they need to create pressure and cover the middle of the field to contain Green Bay’s gains.

Win: San Francisco 49ers, 20-13


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