Jazz: The regular season is behind us and I failed to take the victory for two years running, finishing with a record of 66-53. Congratulations to Ed, who came out on top. But I was only four games behind him out of nearly 120 games picked, so I can’t feel too badly about it. Now all of the remaining teams are back to a record of 0-0 and we begin the much shorter march to the Super Bowl. Last year, after winning the regular season I turned around and lost the post-season picking game to Ed. Let’s see if I can return the favor.
Ed: It came down to the last couple of weeks between Jazz and me, but I’m happy to claim the regular season title at 70-49. The post-season is almost always a different kettle of fish. The “any given Sunday” also applies to Saturdays in the playoffs, and the tea leaves get a lot tougher to read. Except for the fact that Pittsburgh will win out, of course.
Jazz: The first of our two games today doesn’t hold much in the way of mystery. The Chiefs host the Titans (4:35 pm, ABC) in what most of the experts expect to be a blowout. For their part, the Titans are reminding everyone that they actually beat Kansas City at home in the closing days of the 2016 season and claim they’re ready to do it again. Anything is possible in the playoffs of course, but the Titans have simply been too careless with the ball this year while the Chiefs are some of the league’s hottest ball hawks. The Titans are good enough to keep it close, but that won’t be good enough. I’m going with the favorite here and calling it for Kansas City, 24-17.
Ed: Which Kansas City shows up today? The team that beat the Patriots and Eagles two games in a row, or the team that couldn’t beat a playoff team since Week Two? The Chiefs are coming off a four-game winning streak to finish the season, but only the Chargers finished above .500. The Titans beat the Jags last week to get into the playoffs but lost the three games previous to that, including losses to sub-.500 teams from Arizona and San Francisco. The Chiefs have more momentum and finished the year with better rankings on both sides of the ball. Add in home-field advantage and you get a Chiefs win 30-21.
Jazz: The late game today should be a good one when the Atlanta Falcons travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams (8:15 pm, NBC). The Rams are the favorite here, even though their home field advantage generally isn’t much of an advantage at all. But I think a lot of that view was based on the Falcons being more beat up than they are right now. They got several of their starters back off of the injury list, most notably Julio Jones, who their coach claims is pretty much at 100%. Their scores haven’t really reflected how often they’ve made it to the red zone and the Rams defense is a bit suspect in tight quarters. Plus, while Atlanta blew themselves up in the Super Bowl last year, they have post-season experience fresh in their minds. I’m going with the upset here and calling it for the Falcons in a close one, 27-24, probably at the last minute or possibly in overtime.
Ed: This is a tough game to call. Both teams have had a spotty record coming down to the end of the season; both teams lost to playoff and less worthy teams when their own post-seasons were on the line. This is the first Rams post-season in a while, and Jared Goff’s first ever; however, Matt Ryan’s post-season record is not exactly stellar, as anyone who saw last year’s gigantic Grand Fold can attest. With both teams basically healthy, the season’s stats seem applicable. LA’s offense scored 7.8 points a game more than Atlanta’s, while the Falcons’ D only gave up 0.9 points per game fewer than the Rams. With home-field advantage, Rams should win today, 35-28.