NFL Wild Card Sunday open thread

Ed: The weekend fun of the NFL playoffs continues today, with a visit to the City of Champions, and, er, Cincinnati. At least it’s not Cleveland, but then again, it never is. Speaking of losers, I picked the right two teams yesterday … if the game lasted 55 minutes instead of 60.

Jazz:Wild Card weekend always produces some wild rides, and this season will not go down in the record books as any exception to that rule. But at this point, Saturday is history and we don’t need to dwell on the past. (I mean, who can even remember which of us picked which teams yesterday?) Today’s results will be somewhat different, as I’m pretty sure that Ed and I picked the same winner in at least one of the games, so there won’t be any Full Stewie moments coming. Let’s get on to the picks, shall we?

Ed: The first game pits AFC North champ Cincinnati Bengals against the San Diego Chargers (1:05 pm, CBS). They might have been playing the Steelers if the refs had called an illegal formation against San Diego’s defense last week, but the Steelers could have gotten here if they’d, oh, beaten Oakland earlier in the season, too. (Details, details.) The Chargers won their last four games of the season, most impressively at Denver in Week 15, so they can’t be taken too lightly, but they only narrowly won last week against the Chief’s second string at home. The Bengals are undefeated at home, and their 5th-ranked pass defense should disarm Philip Rivers. Bengals 24-14.

Jazz: The Bengals (or “The Bungles” as some of their less die-hard fans tend to call them) have something of a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory when the season is on the line, so it always feels odd picking them. But San Diego has ticked me off one too many times this season, including knocking the Steelers out of contention. Also, when they needed to show up big to make it to the dance, they very nearly choked against a Chiefs lineup which, I believe, included a couple of their cheerleaders on the defensive line last weekend. With that in mind, I’m going to join Ed in going with the home field advantage and pick Cincinnati over San Diego, but with a more generous spread of 31-10. If Ed and I want to claim victory in this match we’ll have to go with the over/under, which we’re spotting at 39.5.

Ed: Today’s NFC game takes place at Lambeau Field, where the San Francisco 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers (4:40 pm ET, Fox). Oddly, Brian Faughnan argued that making the 12-4 49ers travel to the 8-7-1 Packers’ home field was somehow unjust:

I think Wisconsinites should denounce Brian, and force him to wear cheeseheads all day today. Either that, or make him spend three hours watching Aaron Rodgers’ “Discount DAAAAAA-ble Check” ads. Make no mistake — Rodgers is the real wild card today. Rodgers’ return and the cold weather will help the Pack move to the next level with a 34-31 win over San Francisco.

Jazz: Any great lover of tradition should be able to see how this game is being billed. A classic match up at Lambeau Field with temperatures expected to be in the below zero range and the spunky home town heroes ready to make history against the effete west coast prima donnas. The problem is, I’m not buying it. The return of Aaron Rodgers (assuming he’s over his case of the gout or whatever he had) simply isn’t going to be enough to take what is arguably a mediocre Packers team (who didn’t even manage a winning season, since ties don’t count in my book) to victory over the niners. San Francisco has been one of the class acts of the league this year, and while they have stumbled on a few occasions, they won’t go quietly into that good night in their first post-season outing. San Fran over the Packers in a cold weather, defensive struggle, 20 – 13.

See you back here next weekend, sports fans.