Ed: Rushing and defense ended up carrying the day yesterday — but not for the teams that should have benefited from it. Kansas City’s defense came up big against the Colts and the Chiefs scored 4 TDs — all on the ground. The Rams ended up with two running backs with 100 or more yards on the ground to top the Cowboys and its fifth-ranked rushing defense. It just goes to show us that anything can happen in the playoffs … even me getting both picks right. I went 2-0 to push my record to 4-2 in the postseason.
Jazz: Yesterday saw me going back to the land of the mediocre in prognostication circles. My hunch on the Cowboys pulling off an upset was a complete washout, leaving me at 1-1 on the day for a postseason record of 3-3. But there’s still time to catch up to Ed if I can manage some minor miracles. Props to the Rams, though. They really played in Super Bowl fashion. Same for the Chiefs. Today should be less “exciting,” but who knows when you consider how this season has gone?
Ed: Our first game today pits road-warrior Chargers against the Patriots (1:05 pm ET, CBS), one of the league’s best teams at home. If the Chargers can find their way to a win on the road in New England, we could end up with an all-Los Angeles Super Bowl! (We Angelenos tend to think of these things.) That seems a bit unlikely, however. The Chargers just barely hung onto their road win in Baltimore despite Lamar Jackson spotting them a three-score advantage in the first half. New England is rested, experienced, reasonably healthy, and playing at home in winter conditions. It won’t be easy, but Pats over the Chargers 31-27.
Jazz: I can already tell I’m not going to enjoy this pick. The Chargers had a great season and they definitely earned their right to compete in the playoffs. Finishing at 12-4 they were tied for the best win/loss record in the AFC. But they were getting beaten up toward the end of the season and in their outing against Baltimore they weren’t exactly burning up the track. New England has the advantage of resting up on the bye week and are simply better ranked on both sides of the ball. Obviously, we can’t write off the possibility of an upset and I would dearly love to see someone take the stinking Patriots out, but it’s not going to be today. I’ll hold my nose and pick the Patriots over the Chargers 27-21.
Ed: The Eagles go to the Superdome to meet the Saints in the late-afternoon game (4:40 pm, Fox), where New Orleans has a 6-2 record. Philly is making everyone into Cinderella believers with gutsy wins over the last few weeks, especially in last week’s survival saga in Chicago. Are they a team of destiny, or is New Orleans their final destination? Here again, experience counts. Chicago didn’t have much playoff experience, especially at QB, but the Saints have a master at that position who knows how to deliver. In the regular season, New Orleans scored nine more points per game than Philadelphia. Both defenses are rather ordinary overall, but New Orleans was #2 against the rush during the regular season — likely because their offense put teams in deep holes and forced them to pass. Against the pass, the Saints are ranked 29th … but the Eagles are ranked 30th. Get ready for a shootout, ending with the Saints over the Eagles 38-28.
Jazz: This is the game that’s the sentimental favorite for many people I know. The Eagles are finally living the Cinderella dream and will miraculously win through for a Super Bowl repeat! Yeah… except I’m not seeing it. The way my guesses have been going this past week they might just pull it off, but the Saints have been looking like Super Bowl contenders for quite a while now. They were near the top of the leaderboard for yards gained in both rushing and passing. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ secondary is missing some key players to injury. It’s been a lovely dream, but that dream ends in a nightmare this evening. I’ll go with the solid favorite playing at home and take the Saints over the Eagles 31-17.