Jazz: Well, that was certainly an exciting end to the regular season. After an up and down series of performances leading to Ed and I being tied in weeks 15 and 16, it all came down to the last weekend. And don’t ask me how, but I read the entrails of some roadkill animals and managed to go 6-1 for a regular-season record of 75-44 and the victory. I’ll be hoisting a martini tonight in the Hot Air Regular Season Champion’s Cup. But there’s no rest for the wicked and we have a bunch of postseason games to pick, with a fresh competition kicking off today. Buckle up, campers.
Ed: What can I say? Despite a mid-season surge and a decent lead, I threw away my chances for victory like Philip Rivers on a scramble. (In fact, I’m pretty sure one of those bad choices was on Philip Rivers.) But now that we have cleared the decks for the playoffs, I’m tanned and rested like Eli Manning. Well, rested, anyway.
Jazz: Our first game today sees the Buffalo Bills playing the Texans in Houston (4:35 pm, ESPN). The Texans put considerably more points on the board this season than the Bills, but their defense also allowed significantly more points by opponents. So is this game going to be decided by offensive or defensive performances? I normally default to saying it’s the defense and the Bills’ blitz package will probably leave Deshaun Watson back on his heels at least once too often. The Texans are the favorites by a couple of points, but I’m going to start the postseason with an upset pick and take the Bills over the Texans 27-24
The late game has the Titans traveling to New England to face the Patriots (8:15 pm, CBS). The Patriots are the better team on paper, but that loss to the Dolphins last week has a lot of fans feeling squeamish. The Titans came on strong in the second half of the season and seemed to be peaking at just the right time. Both teams did equally well at home and on the road over the course of sixteen games this season. With all that in mind, I came close to picking another upset, but Tom Brady still has a record of producing some magic when playing in Foxborough. He claims that his throwing arm is fine (not everyone agrees) and I can’t see him falling apart in front of the home crowd at this late date in his career. While I still kind of hope I’m wrong, I’ll go with the Patriots over the Titans 30-24.
Ed: Two things matter most in the post-season: momentum and home-field advantage. The Bills don’t have either factor working for them today, having dropped three of their last four games and scoring just under 12 points a game over that period. They haven’t scored more than 17 points in any game since Thanksgiving, the final win in a three-game streak — all against non-playoff teams, by the way. Their defense has kept the Bills competitive, but can they contain Houston playing at home, coming off four wins in six games including against two playoff teams? I think Buffalo shuffles off the playoff stage in Houston. Texans 24-17 over the Bills.
The picture is more murky in Foxboro, where the Titans had to go up against Houston twice and the Saints to finish the season. They beat the Texans on the road to get into the playoffs, although Houston was playing its backups. Tennessee’s defense is a little suspect, but then again, so is the Pats’ offense these days. They scored 24 points on Buffalo’s defense in week 16, but before that had struggled to score against quality teams. The loss to Miami at home was unexpected, too, especially when an opening-week bye would have really helped out New England. In this case, I think the deciding factor will be Bill Belichik. Patriots 27-23 over the Titans.