2013 Regular Season: 161-94-1 (63.1%)
2012 Regular Season: 164-91-1* (64.3%)
Last Week: 13-3 (81.3%)
2012 Playoff Predictions: 7-3 (70%)
All-time Super Bowl Predictions: 1-0 (100%)
All-time Colts Predictions: 24-9 (72.7%)
Another solid season in the books - for me and the Indianapolis Colts.
I finished a solid 13-3 last week picking winners and an incredible 11-5 against the spread. My overall record finished just three correct predictions below my performance from last year - and with the complete collapses of teams like the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons (which no one saw coming), I can live with that.
The Colts finished the season 11-5 for the second straight year and will host the first playoff game of the Andrew Luck era this Saturday. The team had some incredible wins (Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs), struggled through the middle of the season and then finished strong. Overall, it feels like this team has overachieved for the second straight year - but maybe we aren't giving enough credit to the Colts. Going 11-5 in the NFL isn't easy - and doing it two years in a row isn't a fluke. I'm confident Colts fans will have a legitimate Super Bowl contender for years to come.
Before we get to the games, here are some other fearless predictions, news and notes for Wildcard Weekend:
- Look out for the Green Bay Packers this weekend. When Aaron Rodgers is behind center the Packers can beat any team in the NFC. The 49ers are on upset alert.
- I wasn't surprised that the Bears invested in Jay Cutler - but that doesn't mean I don't think they'll regret it. Cutler isn't one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and the Bears would've been better off struggling for two or three years without him. Now they are condemned to seven years of mediocrity.
- The best coaching vacancy in the NFL (although no longer vacant) had to be Houston. First pick in the draft and impact players at several key positions. The worst? Washington. The Redskins will find someone dumb enough to walk into the RGIII mess - and they'll find themselves in the same boat as Mike Shananhan.
- I wonder if the NFL took note of the struggle to sell tickets to most of the playoff games this weekend. The league needs to upgrade the fan experience in the stadium or this will continue to be an issue. I realize that tickets are as big of a chunk of revenue as they used to be (naming rights, TV contracts, licensing deals, etc.) but fans still matter.
On to the picks!
Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Line - Colts by 2.5
The Colts come into this game as healthy as they've been in awhile - well, as healthy as they can be without Reggie Wayne, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Pat Angerer, Dwayne Allen and Donald Thomas (among others). Indy also has a three game winning streak - including a win over the Chiefs just two weeks ago. The offense has seemed to find it's stride, too after struggling badly after Wayne went down.
The Chiefs are just 2-5 over the last seven weeks after starting 9-0. In fairness, two of those losses were to the Denver Broncos and two were to the Chargers (one was last week when they rested their stars). In fact, the only game the Chiefs have lost outside their division has been to the Colts - something they will be looking to rectify.
Kansas City will try to run their offense through Jamaal Charles and the game will be decided by whether or not the Colts defense can contain him. If the Colts can limit Charles to 150 yards or less of total offense (rushing and receiving) than they Colts will win the game - more than that and the Colts lose.
Mark my words.
COLTS WIN 24-17
New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
Line - Eagles by 2.5
The Eagles earned a chance to host this game by beating the Dallas Cowboys without Tony Romo last week. Philadelphia has played surprisingly well since Nick Foles took over at quarterback and LeSean McCoy is as good as ever. DeSean Jackson can make some incredible plays, too - I'm just not sure it's enough.
The Saints are always dangerous, but more so when they are at home. Playing on the road New Orleans has looked very average. On paper the Saints are the better team. I think this game comes downs to playmakers - and the Saints have more of them: Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Marques Coltson, etc. Although, weather is the great equalizer and it's gonna be cold... and snowy.
I'm taking the Saints - but this one is a toss up.
SAINTS WIN 27-24
San Diego Chargers (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)
Line - Bengals by 7
The Chargers squeaked into the playoffs thanks to a missed field goal last week by Ryan Succop. They travel to Cincinnati (across the country) and into the cold and snow (not something you see a lot in San Diego). Phillip Rivers has played very well this season (it hurts me to write that) and they've performed better than I thought they would.
The Bengals are one of those teams that are good enough to beat anyone in the AFC, but terribly inconsistent. Most of that inconsistency is based on the play of quarterback Andy Dalton. If he's on his game the Bengals will be fine.
The good news for the Bengals is that the weather will neutralize the quarterback play - and the Bengals have better pieces at other positions.
BENGALS WIN 27-24
San Francisco 49ers (12-4) at Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)
Line - 49ers by 2.5
I've said all season long that the 49ers are right where they want to be - probably the most under the radar 12-4 team in the league. People forget how good the 49ers were last year and they've been slowly building more and more momentum all season long. They have a great defense and they have the experience from last year - they could be dangerous.
The only team that could out-49er the 49ers is the Green Bay Packers. With the return of Aaron Rodgers the Packers are my new favorite sleeper team in the NFC. The combination of Rodgers return and playing at Lambeau Field in January will be too much to overcome for the 49ers.
I know I picked the 49ers to go to the Super Bowl in my preseason picks - but not anymore.
PACKERS WIN 27-24
Agree? Disagree? As always, comments are welcome! I will track my picks during the season and brag when I'm right (and pretend I was right when I'm wrong). Pick against me if you dare - remember, I'm a Predictificationist.
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