I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not in love with my picks this year. I’m not. Last year, I was settled. I knew what was going to happen. This year is unorthodox. The teams are so close that literally it could either way. If you think that is a disclaimer, you are absolutely correct. My picks this week are like the guy you don’t want to marry but you’re 48 years old and you can’t watch Netflix for the rest of your life. So, you say yes. That’s right, you settle for the lesser of evils.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans
I don’t want to pick an Andy Reid team or a franchise who hasn’t won a playoff game since 1993 but it appears that this Andy Reid team does know how to win games. They have won 10 games in a row and I’m unwilling to believe that they can’t beat the Houston Texans at home. Now, I’m not in love with this pick. I’m not in love with this team. I’m not in love with Alex Smith. But this team is fundamentally sound. They score points, they don’t turn the ball over and they play well. They are not sexy and they are the one night stand you forgot you had. But, it is the lesser of the two evils. Houston has not proven to me that they can beat good quality teams and today will be no exception. Although there is a small part of my brain that can envision Houston shredding Kansas City and making us all look foolish for doubting them. But, it’s easy for me to ignore that part of my brain. It’s also the part of my brain that tells me I should go to the gym and eat less brownies. I’m sticking with my pick. Kansas City Chiefs win.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Last year, the Steelers burned me because I picked them and they let Joe Flacco come in and eat their lunch, pillage their town, and sell their young children for ransom. Here is what could happen in this game. Ben plays above average but not special, there is no running game, Antonio Brown is held in check, and the Steelers lose. That’s my nightmare scenario and it is not farfetched. The Steelers were almost shut out of the playoff this year. Let’s face it, the Steelers should have sent the Buffalo Bill’s an edible fruit display and some flowers for their win against the Jets. Granted, if Andy Dalton was playing, I would have no problem with picking the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dalton doesn’t win playoff games and he doesn’t scare me. However, A.J. McCarron is no Andy Dalton. He is not afraid of the moment and he relishes the opportunity to compete on the big stage. I would go so far as to say that Cincinnati has a greater chance of winning with A.J than Andy because Cincinnati isn’t going to be playing against the ghost of Dalton’s past and the Steelers. Instead, they will only be playing against the Steelers. The Steelers on the other hand are good but they suddenly have no running backs that have been tested. Roethlisberger is a brilliant player but he hasn’t been playing his best ball in the last couple of games. The Steelers defense is susceptible to both the run and long balls. The defense can create turnovers but they don’t cover that well. Remember, the Steelers literally got in the playoffs by the skin of Rex Ryan’s chin hair. Are the Steeler’s going to blow their chance for making a run at the Super bowl after last year’s wildcard loss? I say No. I pick the Steelers. That’s right, I’m picking that bi- polar black and gold road team. This might not end well.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings
This is an interesting game because Seattle has been playing really well. But they are on the road, in freezing weather, and playing at 10 am Seattle time. I don’t like those variables. Minnesota on the other hand, is used to the weather, has Adrian Peterson, and the ability to play loose because no one is really expecting them to win this game. The Vikings are the underdogs at home. That’s disrespectful. And also spot on. Marshawn Lynch is not going to be playing but that doesn’t mean that Beast Mode won’t be in existence. The entire Seattle Seahawks team will be in Beast Mode. I fully expect them to come out and play like their lives depended on it. This isn’t a difficult pick for me. I have Seattle winning this game.
Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins
This is my problem game. Washington Redskins have not beat a team with a winning record all season. They have only played three teams that ended the season above .500 and they have lost every time. But Kirk Cousins has been playing very well and they are on a four game winning streak. On the other hand, Green Bay has been playing poorly. I can’t stress enough just how bad this team has been in the last few games. They are 4-6 in their last 10 games and that’s because of a Hail Mary pass being completed against the Lions. But Aaron Rogers is still Aaron Rogers. Do you really want to bet against him in the playoffs? Normally, no. But his offensive line has been playing so pitifully that it makes me wonder if each of them physically hates Aaron. What did he do to them? There has been no protection and wide receivers haven’t been open. On top of that, the team has been riddled with injuries. So, Aaron by default just has not been successful. Can they turn it around this week? Sure, they can. But as good as he is, I think I have to choose the home team on this game. Once again, I’m not in love with this pick. I’m picking a team who hasn’t won a meaningful game all year against a Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s an uncomfortable pick for me but that is the state of Green Bay right now. The Packers are going to find a way to hurt themselves and Redskins will end up winning the game. I see dropped balls, missed opportunities, sacks, and untimely turnovers from Green Bay. Washington Redskins will win.
So, those are my wildcard picks. I have the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks, and the Washington Redskins advancing.
In other words, I picked three roads teams and a home team that has never won a meaningful game.
Yeah, I’m not in love with these picks. This could get ugly, folks!
(Source for this story was ESPN.com, Associated Press)
Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (724) 561-8082 Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara