Jazz: First of all, I’d like to remind everyone who decided to bet heavily yesterday based on my advice to take the Colts that Hot Air has a strict no refunds policy. But that was one exciting shootout of a game, even if the Patriots clearly cheated. But let’s be honest… I was a bit worried about Ed’s mental health after last week, so he needed a good pick to catch back up. Today we’ll see if I can’t bounce back and at least match my record from last weekend.
Ed: By the end of the evening yesterday, I could hardly believe what I was seeing — and I bet most of you couldn’t believe I could pick two games successfully, either, after my debacle last weekend. Now I have to remember Han Solo’s advice: “Nice shooting! Don’t get cocky, kid.” Both games unfolded yesterday pretty much as I anticipated. Let’s see if I can do as well today, and make Jazz bring the donuts next weekend. To start, I’ll pick the Steelers …. d’oh!
Jazz: The first game for Sunday has the San Francisco 49ers visiting the Panthers at Carolina. (1:05 p.m. FOX) This held a lot of promise to be the game of the weekend, and the Vegas line has it as a near toss-up, giving a one point edge to the niners. Everyone is going to tell you about how Carolina has the best defense of any team left standing, and how they play so far above the level of “no respect” that they generally get. Also, home field advantage can’t be overlooked. But even for all that I think San Francisco is due. Kaepernick is supposed to once again have the services of his top receiver, Michael Crabtree, available. That combination, along with the rest of San Fran’s weapons, will prove too much for the often maligned Panthers’ secondary and the 49ers win 35-21.
Ed: This may be one of the best match-ups in the playoffs. Take a look at the offense and defense averages for the season, and the 49ers and Panthers are within just a few yards of each other in every category. On top of that, both teams went into the playoffs hot; Carolina won its last three and lost only once in its last twelve games, while the Niners won its final six games. San Francisco has the better offense, but the Panthers only have a slightly better defense. I think this comes down to home-field advantage and a week’s rest. I’ll take the Panthers in a nailbiter, 31-28, possibly OT.
Jazz: The late game sees the Chargers traveling to the Mile High City to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. I really wish there was something more interesting to say about this game, but the nine point spread that Vegas is giving Denver may prove to be a bit of an understatement. San Diego limped in to this opportunity and showed a lot of guts doing so, but Manning looks like he plans on finishing up his career with another Superbowl ring on his finger and San Diego doesn’t seem to be in any position to stop him. I’ll take the Broncos to beat the spread and put the hapless Chargers out of their misery 38-17.
Ed: In this match-up, the two teams show similar averages on defense, but Denver has a 64-yard advantage on offense, 69 yards a game on passing. Even with the close numbers on defense, the Broncos have the slight advantage there. They are playing at home with a week’s rest to gather their senses, while San Diego has to go on the road again after two emotional wins. They finished the season hot, winning their final four to barely squeeze into the playoffs, but it should come down to Denver’s defense and Peyton Manning’s arm. However, Manning has come up short in the playoffs before, so this isn’t a slam dunk. I’ll stick with Denver, though I think it will be closer — perhaps 31-24.