Good afternoon everyone. Well, I was 3-1 on my picks straight up last weekend, and that's where the "good news" ends. The loss was my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers getting knocked out of the playoffs, and I went 3-5 on my picks against the spread and on the overs/unders (2-2 against the spread, 1-3 on the overs/unders). There were last weekend's final scores in case you want to go back and compare them to my predictions: Houston 31 Cincinnati 10 - New Orleans 45 Detroit 28 - New York Giants 24 Atlanta 2 - Denver 29 Pittsburgh 23 (OT). Now we'll take a look at this weekend's games. If I'm right, which is questionable at this point, the NFC games this weekend will be a lot more interesting than the AFC games.
New Orleans (13-3) @ San Francisco (13-3): Saints (-4) Over/Under 47
It's funny that the matchup of the 13-3 teams is put into the worst television slot of the weekend. These two teams did not meet during the regular season. The Saints have an absolutely lethal offense. Jim Harbaugh led a team that I thought would win the NFC West last season to the 2nd seed in the NFC this year - great player and a great coach. The 49ers defense has been great, but the Saints have so many weapons. San Francisco will have to eat the clock with their running game to stay in this one, because they are not winning a track meet against New Orleans. Offense or defense?
My Prediction: New Orleans 24 San Francisco 17 ----- New Orleans (-4) Under 47
Denver (8-8) @ New England (13-3): Patriots (-13 1/2) Over/Under 50 1/2
The Patriots won this game 41-23 in Denver on December 18th. The Broncos did very well at home last weekend, but Tom Brady does not have a high-ankle sprain, and the Patriots are not missing five of their starters. Denver is also going to have to play this game in an opponent's frenzied stadium. There is no question in my mind that the Broncos will be able to score some points in this game, but can they keep up with New England?
My Prediction: New England 37 Denver 17 ----- New England (-13 1/2) Over 50 1/2
Houston (10-6) @ Baltimore (12-4): Ravens (-7 1/2) Over/Under 35 1/2
The Ravens won this game 29-14 in Baltimore on October 16th. The Texans were one of the teams that made me look good this season, as I predicted that they would make the first ever playoff appearance by winning the AFC South before Peyton Manning's playing status was known. Houston definitely needed a little help after suffering a slew of injuries to their own squad. The Ravens have tended to get up for the tough teams this season while playing down to the level of the weaker teams. I believe that Arian Foster will have to have a huge game for the Texans to win on Sunday, because I cannot imagine T. J. Yates lighting up the Baltimore defense. One of Joe Flacco's poor performances would come in handy for Houston also in what promises to be a hostile environment in Maryland. Does the clock strike midnight for the Texans?
My Prediction: Baltimore 27 Houston 17 ----- Baltimore (-7 1/2) Over 35 1/2
New York Giants (9-7) @ Green Bay (15-1): Packers (- 7 1/2) Over/Under 53 1/2
The Packers won this game 38-35 on the final drive of the game in Green Bay on December 4th. That is probably the reason why a game matching a 9-7 team against a 15-1 squad is the final game of the weekend and not the first game on Saturday. When I stated earlier in the year that I did not believe that the Packers would go unbeaten, I said that bad weather could hurt their offense because they don't have a dominant running game. It is going to be cold in Wisconsin on Sunday. The Giants were dominant in beating the Falcons last weekend, and they have Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs performing well at the same time. I think that this game is in the right slot for television, because it should be one very interesting game. Do the Packers take one step closer to defending their title, or do the Giants have flashbacks to the 2007-2008 season?
My Prediction: New York 20 Green Bay 17 ----- New York (+ 7 1/2) Under 53 1/2
And there you go. Have a great football weekend and we'll see you again on Monday.