If you followed last week’s picks, you’ll know I got three out of four correct, once ahead of my predictor. So, what about this week’s games? Here’s a quick guide.
Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs
I correctly over-ruled my predictor last week by picking the Colts, and although I could look silly by doing so, I’m very tempted by the Colts tonight. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But they’re on a roll, winning 10 out of 11, and Andrew Luck is an experienced quarterback who can surely pick apart the Chiefs’ secondary.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs haven’t always done well in the playoffs, but that’s not why I pick against them here. I’m more picking for the Colts, because they’ve shown in the second half of the season they are better than their #6 seed shows. They play with confidence, they have good experience, and they just look like a team that knows how to get it done.
If they can’t win in Kansas City, I don’t see anyone else doing so. It’s a brave pick, but I just believe in this Indianapolis team.
The predictor picks: Kansas City (7.5 points).
Chiefs confidence level: 100%.
Colts confidence level: 100%.
My pick: Indianapolis.
Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Rams
I’d love to pick the Cowboys here, but it’s almost impossible to justify. Yes, their defense is immense right now, and they are capable of shutting down the Rams’ running game and forcing them to throw. And yes, passing is exactly where the Rams look weak right now.
And yes, the Cowboys are 7-2 on the road this season. They’ve only lost on the road to divisional rivals. And they won on the road in the regular season against three playoff teams.
But this is where you have to read your stats carefully. They beat Seattle in week 3, and Houston in week 5. Both those teams played better as the season went on.
In week 15, they play the Colts. The Colts are the bar, as you should know by now. What happened? The Colts won 23-0.
So, no matter how much I’m tempted, I’m not getting carried away with the Rams’ struggles at the end of the regular season. With a week off to rest and reset, they can hold off Dallas at home.
The predictor picks: Los Angeles (10 points).
Cowboys confidence level: No data.
Rams confidence level: 75%.
My pick: Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots
The Patriots are undefeated at home. The Chargers are still undefeated outside of Los Angeles, having lost one road game in their hometown, and won one home game 5,437 miles away from home in London. Follow?
Philip Rivers has never beaten Tom Brady. Well, I’ve not checked that, but everyone’s said it all week. More to the point, the Patriots are very hard to beat at home, and they’ve had a week’s rest. This Patriots team can be beaten, certainly, but history shows they are particularly hard to beat off a bye. I won’t be falling off my chair in shock if they lose, and I definitely think it’s closer than a 12-point game, but I’m not going against the NFL’s only team to go undefeated at home.
The predictor picks: New England (12 points).
Patriots confidence level: No data.
Chargers confidence level: 100%
My pick: New England.
(There’s no data for New England as this is predicted to be a closer game than any of their home games this season. All other home games have had them as strong favourites, which isn’t the case to the same degree here.)
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
The Eagles tripped me up last week when I picked the Chicago Bears, and I’ve not changed my mind this week. The Eagles are, I’m adamant, the weakest team in the playoffs. The Saints may have a weaker defense than the defeated Bears, but their offense is much stronger.
The Bears were found wanting on offense, but I don’t see that being a problem here, whereas I just don’t see the Eagles scoring enough points to compete.
In Power Rankings terms, it’s the #1 team against the #15.
The predictor picks: New Orleans (9 points).
Eagles confidence level: 33%.
Saints confidence level: 100%.
My pick: New Orleans.