I know I made complete predictions last week, in the pride and glory of my heart. But I failed on nearly all of my picks, so I'm doing things differently this time. I'm just going to pick this week's games. Then, if I fail, I won't feel QUITE so bad.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings
I hate both teams in this game with a passion, and I pretty much hate them equally. Furthermore, the more I've researched them and thought about them, they're pretty equal. I think Minnesota may have the edge in terms of pure talent and ability--Percy Harvin, the Offensive ROY, is a Viking, and you can never count out Favre. That defense, too, is a monster. But on the other side, you have the Cowboys, who made a liar out of me last week, with all the momentum in the world (including two straight, meaningful wins over a bitter rival). Grading on talent, too, the 'Boys are no slouch--Miles Austin has huge-play ability, and it seems Romo may have exorcised his December-January demons. In the end, I think it'll come down to the location; the Vikings are at home, and their home is loud. As much as I hate to say this (and I know I'll draw the unmitigated ire of all my Cowboys-fan friends for picking against Dallas two straight weeks), I think Minnesota wins this.
Vikings 21, Cowboys 13
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
Another tough one here, and I'm beginning to reconsider. The Cards get this air of invincibility every now and then, and I'm starting to detect whiffs of that. I mean, the way last week's game ended? Yeah...
This one may come down to defense, or lack thereof. The way Warner picked apart the vaunted Green Bay defense, I think it'll take a miracle for New Orleans' D to hold the Cards. The thing is, the Arizona D was pretty bad last week too, and the Saints have been an explosive scoring team. I actually think we'll get our second NFC score-fest of the playoffs this week in this game, with the slightly less horrible Cards D being the X-factor here and making the one stop needed to keep Arizona ahead.
Cardinals 38, Saints 31
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts
Now, this one I didn't expect. I did not think the Pats would drop last week's game, and I fail because of that. I don't know that much about Baltimore, but I think they'll find themselves overmatched in this contest. I was wrong about their drive--they may have stumbled into the playoffs, but they sure as heck want to stay alive. They'll put up a fight, but Joe Flacco isn't quite there yet. It'll be Flacco (214 ypg) vs. Indy's 14th-ranked pass D (212 ypg) and Manning (282 ypg) vs. Baltimore's 8th-ranked pass D (207 ypg). I think Manning is more able to stretch Baltimore than Flacco is to stretch Indianapolis. This one will be interesting, especially if Ray Rice gets going against Indy's bad run D, but I think this one goes to the Colts.
Colts 28, Ravens 17
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers
The only matchup I got right last week was Bengals-Jets. I picked the Jets, and I was right. And, wonder of wonders, I'm not second-guessing my prediction of last week--Chargers win. One thing I didn't really take into account was the bye week, which may not be very good for San Diego momentum. I think the Chargers will be rusty early, but sharpen it up later on in the game and win this one convincingly.
Chargers 21, Jets 10
Here's hoping I don't go 1-3 again this week. That would be really sad.
Long live retrieval of one's good name!