Ed: Last weekend I managed to go 3-1 thanks to the Cincinnati Bengals, who rescued me from a .500 start to the playoffs. I went 1-1 on the NFC North last weekend, though, as the Vikings missed a chip-shot field goal at the end that would have won the game. We should have two terrific games to watch today, too, and with only a small chance of rioting on the field.
Jazz: I’m stuck at .500 again thus far, going 1-1 on both Saturday and Sunday last week. It could have been worse, since I needed the Vikings’ kicker to save me from myself at the last moment. Still, I made my final mistake of picking the Redskins and that sunk me for the late game. Now I’ve learned my lesson, however, and I can assure you that I will make no further faulty Redskins picks this season.
Ed: First up is the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs coming to Foxboro to face the struggling New England Patriots (4:35 pm ET, CBS). The Pats limped into the playoffs losing four of their last six games, mostly due to a slew of injuries, while the Chiefs haven’t lost since week 6. Weather shouldn’t be a big factor in New England, with a game-time temperature in the high 30s and some rain impacting both teams equally. The Pats have a much higher-ranked offense, but that will depend on whether Tom Brady has all the weapons he needs at his disposal, and Rob Gronkowski was a late addition to the injured-but-playing list with a sore back and knee. It may be foolish to bet against Bill Belichick at home, but I think the Chiefs stay hot and their 7th-ranked defense (3rd-ranked in points allowed) contains the usually potent Patriots O. KC 24-17 over New England.
Jazz: Good Lord I don’t even want to pick this game. I have to agree with Ed that the numbers are all on the side of the Chiefs and I’ll be rooting for them like crazy. Anything to stop the Patriots, you know. But at the same time you can’t escape the creeping feeling that the Patriots are harder to keep in the grave than Jason Voorhees. Just when you think the beast is finally put away he jumps out of a closet with a fire ax. Still, I’m going to cross my fingers and pick Kansas City to deflate Tom Brady once and for all this year, 30-24.
Ed: For the evening game (8:15 pm ET, NBC), the Green Bay Packers come to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Packer offense woke up in Washington last week, crushing the Redskins’ hopes of advancing in a relative rout. That doesn’t necessarily remove the memories of the Week 16 rout the Pack suffered at the hands of the Cardinals, and injuries will weigh heavy on Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers will be short on receivers again this week, and this time he faces the league’s 5th-ranked defense rather than its 28th. Carson Palmer will lead the top-ranked Arizona offense at home against the 15th-ranked defense of Green Bay. It may not be a rout like the 38-8 drubbing of Green Bay in week 16, but it probably will not be a terribly close game either. Cardinals 31-20 over the Packers.
Jazz: This one seems a bit simpler. I picked against the Pack last week and paid the price for it, but Arizona just looks like more than they can handle, particularly on the road. The Packers had a good run, but the Cardinals take this one solidly with their second straight win over Green Bay in a close one, 34-27.