Let’s rock and roll.
Saints (+7.5) at Seahawks – I think all four games this weekend have more storyline than substance. There are harbingers of doom on the Seattle end of things: the fact that they have to beat a really good AND well-coached team twice in six weeks (even if both are at home), the fact that they’ve been almost laughably dominant at home, and the fact that everyone’s a little too high on them. I got one for you: has any team ever won the Super Bowl with their secondary as their foundation, and why would we see the first one in an era where the rules favor cartoonishly productive offense? The closest team I can think of would be the 2010 Jets, who beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in successive weeks only to FUBAR the AFC title game to an inferior Steelers team. Come to think of it, that Jets QB had a lot of success early in his career, was deadly on bootlegs and rollouts, had a fiery defensive-minded head coach, and had the backing of a power running game that controlled most of their contests….
….naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, these aren’t the 2010 Jets all over again, right? Seahawks 26, Saints 17.
Colts (+7) at Patriots – Christ, what storyline arc CAN’T you make for this game? You can make the case that the Colts should have given up 50 points at home to the Chiefs last week before that miracle injury run put the game in their lap to be won, but Luck still had to win it. The specter of Luck being the best player on the field tomorrow renders everything you know about both teams debatable at best. I just think Bill Belichick won’t do the fucking around Andy Reid (understandably) did last week (You’re really putting your season in the hands of Cyrus Gray? Really? Are you?), and take away T. Y. Hilton. The Chiefs were right to man up on Hilton last week because on paper, they should have had the corners to take him away. Indy countered that by running Hilton on drag routes across the field, making man coverage more difficult, and capitalizing on yards after the catch. New England isn’t going to waste the big-bodied Aqib Talib on him in man coverage. They’ll play shallow zones all the way across, light Hilton up as he catches the ball (Belichick does NOT play the YAC game with you. Preach!), and use Talib on Fleener in man coverage with the safeties back to prevent big plays. From here on Brady just has to be Brady, which hasn’t been written in stone in recent home playoff games, but should be enough here. Again, substance over storyline. Pats 27, Colts 20.