As a highly respected, prestigious NFL prognosticator (yah right), I firmly believe that “throwing up chalk”, i.e. predicting only favorites, produces boring, boilerplate articles. Any moron can predict a favorite winning on the money line (looking at you Elliot Harrison- the king of throwing up chalk). It takes guts to take a big dog. Having written all that, after a Wild Card weekend when the dogs were howling and they all covered, I’m predicting that the winds will swing back towards the favorites. Not only will every favorite win, but they’ll also win handily. My Lock of the Week is this: Falcons-Patriots-Steelers-Vikings ML Parlay.
The AFC Championship will be a Patriots-Steelers rematch from last season. Period. End of story. Do you really have any faith in the Titans, because I sure as hell don’t? Tennessee limped into the playoffs and didn’t so much as win their Wild Card game as much as Kansas City lost it. I’ll admit that their defense, especially against the run in the second half, looked nice. But they are nowhere near the level of the Patriots, who will be well-rested and ready. Yah, yah there appears to be some trouble in paradise with ESPN’s bombshell report about the supposed shattering of the Kraft-Belichick-Tom Brady love triangle. Don’t let that fool you for a moment. If anything, this makes me think the Patriots will be more fired up. I’m praying that someone is able to take down the Patriots; I just don’t think it’s going to happen until the Super Bowl Odds. In order, these are the teams I believe have the best shot to take down the Patriots: Vikings, Saints, Falcons, Jaguars, Steelers, Eagles, your fall beer league squad, and the Titans. Keep hope alive, Patriots’ haters’ Nation!
The far more intriguing matchup in the AFC appears to be the Jags traveling to Pittsburgh. It’s funny how history repeats itself. Last season, a Florida team played the Steelers in Week 5 and smoked them. This season, a Florida team played the Steelers in Week 5 and smoked them. Last season, my beloved Dolphins got annihilated in that rematch in January. This season…well, you get the picture. Remember that Week 5 game where the Jacksonville defense announced itself with five(!) interceptions of Big Ben. Remember how we heard Roethlisberger was washed up. I can guarantee Pittsburgh remembers that game. Since then, they’ve won 10 of 11 games (their only loss coming to the Pats).
Pittsburgh will be out for revenge in this one and they’re going to get it. Congrats, Sacksonville, you held the Bills to 10 points in Florida. Now, you are going up against arguably the most talented offense in football in January in Pennsylvania. Don’t get me wrong, that Jacksonville defense is nasty. They’re young, hungry and incredibly athletic. CB Jalen Ramsey is having an incredible sophomore campaign. Marshon Lattimore & Ramsey are the future of defensive talent in the NFL. But the Steelers simply have too many weapons. They will overwhelm the inexperienced Jags, setting up an epic rematch for the AFC Championship.