Ed: Well, I got whole in a hurry last week, thanks to Patrick Mahomes and a massive second-quarter comeback by the Chiefs. When the Chiefs fell into a 24-point hole, I figured that I might as well hang up my prediction spurs altogether. In the end, though, I went 2-0 last Sunday to bring my record back to .500 at 4-4 for the postseason. With only three games to go, I might even end up over .500 in the end … depending on whether my picks rescue me this week again.
Jazz: I also went 2-0 last weekend… in my mind. As it turns out, I had transposed my notes and swapped my picks with Ed’s. Back in the real world, I went 1-1, sinking my postseason record to a dismal 2-6. Considering the Vegas line on today’s games, there’s really no path to victory at this point absent some sort of asteroid strike. But ’tis the season to be gracious and it would simply be rude to keep both titles for myself.
Ed: First up we get Titans at Chiefs (3:05 pm ET, CBS), the apex of Tennessee’s improbable run in 2019. Alas, it’s likely to end in Kansas City, who’s favored by seven points and probably are being a little underestimated in that spread. The Chiefs came out flat against the Texans in the first quarter after their bye week, but they demonstrated their ability to completely transform a game no matter what the situation may be in the second quarter and beyond. Tennessee only has a middling pass defense (24th in the league for 2019), although they’re better against the run. The Chiefs are worse against the run and will likely get gashed by Titans’ RB Derrick Henry, but KC’s offense is built to deal with that. Patrick Mahomes will feast on the Titan’s secondary in a high-scoring game, with Chiefs 37-27 over the Titans.
Next we have Packers at 49ers (6:40 pm, Fox), for one of the best matchups in this postseason. Green Bay went 6-2 on the road this season and faces a San Francisco team that went 6-2 at home. Both teams went 13-3 in the regular season. The Pack scored 28 points, the 49ers 27 last week; they both play on turf; and they’re both reasonably healthy. However, there’s a big difference between the two teams’ performances last week, and that’s on defense. The 49ers only gave up ten points and 193 yards to the Vikings, while the Pack gave up 23 points and 387 yards to the Seahawks. San Francisco was second overall this season on defense, giving up seventy fewer yards per game than Green Bay.
Aaron Rodgers has more experience than Jimmy Garoppolo in the post-season, so that’s a consideration. However, Garoppolo is playing at home, and his team looked fresher last week than the Packers, who looked gassed out in the second half against Seattle. Put that together and it spells a home win for the 49ers over the Packers 27-20, even though I’ll be rooting the other way.
Jazz: It’s not as if I have any particular affinity for the Titans, but they’re such a Cindarella story this season that it’s almost hard to root against them. Sadly, a game like this is probably going to unfold like a shootout, but one team will be throwing bombs while the other one grinds it out on the ground. It’s not hard to see the Chiefs’ offense remaining fresher going deep in the second half. Add in home field advantage and I think it spells an action-packed win for the Chiefs over the Titans 34-24.
The late game doesn’t look much more promising for the underdogs. In fact, we already watched this game in week 12. And back then, the 49ers didn’t just beat the Packers, they stole their lunch money and made them cry in a 37-8 blowout. But you know what they say… any given Sunday. Honestly, if this game were being played in the howling winter winds of Lambeau Field I’d probably pick Green Bay anyway. But in front of a home crowd in San Francisco, I’m not sensing any magic in the wind for Aaron Rodgers and their playoff dreams come to an end tonight. 49ers over Packers 31-20.