Thankfully, I don’t have to make a Pittsburgh Steelers prediction this week, because the Steelers crushed the Cleveland Browns 41-9 to clinch their division and a first-round bye in the playoffs. In fact, I finished off the season with a 5-2 record in Week 17 for an overall season record of 66-40. But now we’re in a new season, so we’ll set the prediction record back to 0-0 and see if I can beat last year’s 6-5 record, which included a whiff in the Super Bowl.
- Saints at Seahawks – Purists are angry that a 7-9 team even got into the playoffs, and even more upset that an 11-5 team had to go on the road as a wild card to play them. They won’t stay angry long. New Orleans hasn’t exactly looked like the world-beaters of last season and ended with a loss last week, but they should be more than a match for the mediocre Seahawks regardless of whether Matt Hasselbeck or Charlie Whitehurst starts the game. Saints should blow past Seattle on cruise control, 31-13.
- Jets at Colts – Say, do you think Rex Ryan’s admission of a personal mission to beat Peyton Manning has Indianapolis a little fired up this week? The Colts started to regain their form towards the end of the season, while the Jets started playing inconsistently down the stretch. Mark Sanchez seems to have righted the ship, but Manning will do better against the Jets’ tough defense than Sanchez will against the Colts’ more ordinary one. Plus, the home field will be a big advantage for Manning. It won’t be easy and we’ll see a couple of lead changes during the game, but the Colts should outlast the Jets, 24-20.
Update: You know, the Jets might have better luck with Mark Sanchez than Matt Sanchez.