Two weeks of two picks correct has left me feeling a little middling.
But with the conference championship games ahead, I’m hoping the two-pick trend continues.
Two-for-two, here I come.
Last weekend, Joe Flacco made a fool out of me, again. Sure, prior to the game nobody thought Joe Flacco vs. Peyton Manning would earn a place among quarterback duals for the ages. After, though? Behind the Flacco Fling, that one will find a place in the books. And with three Manning turnovers, Flacco’s 331 yards and 116.2 passer rating against the Broncos proved that his quick draw is fast, accurate and deadly.
Forget what I said, Flacco’s shaping up to be one of the elite.
Then in Atlanta, Matty Ice made like an ice sculpture and mostly kept his shape. When Russell Wilson hit a fourth quarter thermal, I thought I could hear the ice a-drippin’, but Matt Ryan and Matt Bryant clipped those Seahawk wings and finally got Tony Gonzalez a playoff win.
The playoff monkey’s off that bird’s back.
Sunday, Jan. 20
San Francisco at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (KASA) – I don’t trust the Falcons. You don’t trust the Falcons. Nobody trusts the Falcons, except the Falcons – monkey free or not. For Atlanta “nobody believes in us” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a way of life. And that’s worked out pretty well for Atlanta, so far.
The Falcons do have some talons. Even Seattle’s stingy corners couldn’t completely shut down the Julio Jones-Roddy White tandem. Throw in Gonzalez, and you’ve got a receiving trio that might be unmatched.
But that’s not all: Last weekend the Falcons proved their defense has a wingspan, too, holding the usually prolific Marshawn Lynch to just 46 yards on 16 carries. Frank Gore shouldn’t expect much better.
So lets talk about Atlanta’s pass rush. What pass rush, you ask? Oh, right. It’s a good thing, then, that San Francisco’s got a not-so-nimble game manager behind center.
Wait, that guy’s riding the pine for the other guy, who ran for more yards than any quarterback ever (181) while also throwing for 263 and two touchdowns last weekend, you say? Rut roh. Against that saggy Atlanta pass rush, the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick will have plenty more opportunity to show off his legs, when he’s not finding Michael Crabtree through the air.
Nobody believes in Atlanta; everyone believes in San Francisco. There’s a reason. Pick: 49ers, 38-27. Line: 49ers by 4.
Baltimore at New England, 4:30 p.m. (KCNC, KREZ) – fool me once: Shame on you. Fool me twice: Shame on me. Fool me three times? C’mon, Joe, help me out here. Only a fool would pick against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough with a record fourth Super Bowl win in sight. Well, color me a fool.
I can’t shake the feeling that New England is going to slice and dice the Ravens’ defense. Especially with this spread. But I couldn’t shake a similar feeling last week, and look where that got me.
The Patriots statistically are better than Baltimore everywhere except passing defense, and with Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith peaking ahead of an – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – almost scary-good Flacco, that’s one big Achilles’ heel. Heck, they made Champ Bailey finally look old.
Plus, Ray “Retirement” Lewis is sure to be screaming stuff somewhere on the field, and that’s an intangible I’m no longer willing to mock. I’m ignoring my gut: The Ravens only could look better if Joe brings back the handlebar mustache. Pick: Ravens, 30-28. Line: Patriots by 9.