Jazz: I think Ed brought up the point yesterday about the any given Sunday rule applying to any given Saturday as well when it comes to the playoffs. Boy, did that turn out to be true. Neither of us covered ourselves in glory, but I at least managed to get one of the two games correct. That was only because I picked the upset in the late game, as neither of the Vegas line favorites managed to win. Still, I’ll happily limp away with a 1-1 post-season record since it’s better than 0-2. Let’s see if I can’t improve on that today. The biggest question for me when considering the Titans’ victory is whether or not we really advanced the team with the best chance of beating the Patriots if it comes to that.
Ed: “Better than 0-2.” Le sigh. I didn’t get much of a chance to watch either game, but they at least seemed to be exciting and playoff-worthy, which separates it from most of the prime-time games we’ve seen this year. I start the post-season in the hole, but maybe that’s just where I want to be. Probably not, but I have to say something.
Jazz: The early game today has the surprise entry Buffalo Bills visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars (1:00, CBS). Yesterday should make us nervous about picking any favorites, but it seems as if the Jags have earned the eight-point spread the experts are giving them. Buffalo’s run defense ranked 29th in the league this season and the Jaguars are holding a hot hand with Leonard Fournette waiting to exploit the Bills’ front line. I’m seeing some sympathetic analysts hedging their bets by saying that Bortles coughs up the ball on passing plays too often and that could set up a Buffalo upset, but that would be an even bigger upset than the ones we saw yesterday. I’ve got to go with the odds here and take the Jaguars in a lower scoring, grinding ground game, 20-13.
Ed: As much as I’d like to see the Bills win today to keep the Steelers from facing a Jags team that walloped them earlier in the season, it’s tough to see how that happens. Jacksonville is 6-2 at home and the Bills are 3-5 on the road. Buffalo’s a little hotter at the moment, winning three of its last four while the Jags lost two in a row to end the season, but those three wins came against Miami and the Colts (twice). Buffalo has mostly lost to playoff-level competitors, including two blowouts to the Pats in the last five weeks. The Jags will get their ticket to Pittsburgh in a 27-14 snoozer.
Jazz: Our second game has the New Orleans Saints meeting the Carolina Panthers (4:40, FOX) for the third time this season. I tried picking Carolina in one of those earlier matches and was burned for my efforts. Can Carolina stop the Saints from sweeping them 3-0 this season? The Panthers were able to hold nearly every team they met this season to less than 120 yards rushing… except the Saints. And when Drew Brees is able to get the ball off before Carolina’s formidable pass rush reaches him he’s done plenty of damage in the air. I hate to be all boring and ignore the possibility of another day of exciting upsets, but I have to go with the experts on this one also. I’ll take New Orleans in a close one, 27-24.
Ed: Carolina has the talent to make this a tough game for New Orleans at home, but will they show up? Both teams dropped their final game of the season when a win might have improved their post-season seeding, both on the road, although the Panthers at least lost to a playoff-bound team. The Saints have only lost one game at home this year and that was to the Patriots in week 2. Carolina has a 5-3 record on the road this year, including impressive wins against the Pats and the Lions, but those were in weeks 4 and 5. The Panthers lost by ten to the Saints in the Superdome five weeks ago, and they’re not playing much better than that now. I’ll pick the Saints by the same score, 31-21.