There was much talk coming into last weekend about how the Saints, Colts, and Vikings were slumping and their offenses would be lagging after bye weeks. I think we can all officially set those theories on fire now. The Saints, Colts, and Vikings played like what they had been for the majority of the season; the three best teams in football. All three demolished their opponent and made those who picked against them look more stupid than anyone who thinks that any movie in which John Travolta plays a bad ass with a crazy haircut will be good.
Meanwhile the Chargers duped us all for yet another year. I wrote multiple times during the season that the Chargers would get hot going into the playoffs, only to completely disappear once there. I just thought it would happen in the AFC Championship this year, not the Divisional round.
And the ability to suck monstrously at kicking in the playoffs continued this week thanks to one likely candidate, Shaun Suisham, and one unlikely candidate, Nate Kaeding. It's almost a guarantee that someone will miss an important and/or easy kick on Sunday.
Last week: 1-3
Picks after the jump. Home team in CAPS
COLTS (-8) over Jets
I said last week that I would pick against the Jets again if they somehow managed to win, and thanks to Norv Turner, LaDainian Tomlinson and Nate Kaeding the Jets live to fight another day. So why can't the Jets do it again against the Colts? Let's make the case for the Jets in this game first. The Jets are great against the pass, but they can be run on. Like the Chargers, the Colts rely on the pass and aren't very good at running.
That's all well and good, but regardless of stats, Peyton Manning is not going to be shut down or kept out of the end zone. Manning and the Colts will come out fired up and come out hot. Manning will be able to mix up his plays at the line of scrimmage to keep the Jets D on their toes and he has more than enough weapons to keep them guessing and avoid Darrelle Revis. Once the Colts get up by two scores the Jets will have to try to pass the ball, and that's just not something they can do. The Jets are a one dimensional team, and sooner or later one dimensional teams get exposed in the playoffs.
Colts roll. Colts 30, Jets 10
SAINTS (-3.5) over Vikings
Despite the fact that the Saints absolutely dismantled the Cardinals last week and looked like the Saints from the first 13 weeks of the season that many were calling unbeatable, the Vikings seem to be the popular pick now. Don't get swept up in how good the Vikings were last week, because the Saints were just as good. And now the Vikings are on the road. They are not a good road team. There is no other way to put that. Don't trust the Vikings on the road.
Besides, in an NFL season that has been built on a lack of parity, what else would make sense but to have the teams that were the top two for almost the entire season meet in the Super Bowl? When these two were 13-0 everyone thought they would meet in the Super Bowl. After a few meaningless losses to close out the season the entire nation seemed to jump ship and run to the Chargers and Cowboys. The Colts and Saints have been the best teams all season; they are still the best teams. They will meet in the Super Bowl. Finally, the playoffs will have trimmed the fat and be left with a great matchup. Sidenote - if this happens it will be the first time the two top seeds have met in the Super Bowl since the 1993 season, when Dallas beat Buffalo (the second time).
And, to make things absolutely awesome, here is my prediction. Brett Favre will have a chance to win this game late, but he will throw an interception that will seal the game for the Saints. He will then retire under almost the exact same circumstances he retired under two years ago with the Packers. It's like some sort of time travelling paradox where try as he might, Brett Favre is destined for his last throw to be an interception that costs his team the NFC Championship.
Saints 31, Vikings 24