So, I’m back. Did you miss me?
Not to make too big a thing about this, but my family suffered a loss in November. It was a difficult, painful time for me. If I’m being honest, I’m still dealing with some of the fallout. I don’t want to dwell on it here, though.
For a few weeks, I just wasn’t able to even think about writing. After that, I was just too busy getting caught up on other things (it doesn’t matter what you’re going through; the world simply does not stop to wait for you), and getting ready for the holidays.
I’ve still been following the action when I was able. In fact, football has been a great comfort to me these past several weeks. Funny story: the first night my wife and I came home after having spent many difficult hours at the hospital, and we were in that overtired state where we were exhausted but couldn’t settle down enough to sleep, we put on a Pats game we’d PVRed, just to take our minds off things.
Looking ahead to this weekend, we have a very interesting slate of games in store. This year, the term “Wild Card Weekend” is definitely apt, because I can honestly see any of these games going either way. None of the home teams are a lock by any means, with at least one (I’m looking at you, Dallas) the beneficiary of playing in a very weak division, while I would not be surprised if one or more of this weekend’s visiting squads made deep runs in this postseason.
Yes, folks, this weekend promises to be an interesting start to this year’s “second season.” So, bring on the action.
I’m so ready.
Here's my picks for this weekend. As you'll see, I'm not shy about picking upsets.
Indianapolis at Houston
Houston is one of the division winners I predicted correctly this season. Deshaun Watson managed to stay healthy despite the peril he is regularly subjected to in dum-dum Bill O’Brien’s offence. Houston can do enough on offence and defence to give any team a run for its money. Indianapolis has some good players on defence too, and will give Watson trouble if Houston’s scheme fails to protect him like it has done all season. The key to this game for me is Andrew Luck. I’m positively astounded at how well he’s playing right now, especially considering how much he’s struggled to get back to playing at all. This should be a close one. Winner: Indianapolis
Seattle at Dallas
Another tricky pick between two teams which employ similar philosophies. Both Seattle and Dallas have relied on strong running and defence this season. This is likely to be a close, low-scoring affair, and as much as I like Dak Prescott, I don’t have nearly as much confidence in him with the game on the line as I do in <retch> Russell Wilson. Winner: Seattle
LAC at Baltimore
Here’s a pick that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Baltimore relies on stingy defence and a gimmicky offence to win close games, and are in the playoffs (and hosting) largely due to Pittsburgh’s collapse (that was fun to type). I’ve been all-in in the Bolts since day 1. I picked them to win their division (really, no one knew just how AMAZING Mahomes would be this season). LA is the better team here. As long as they are patient, don’t fall behind early (which they seem to do whenever I’ve watched them this season), they should be able to outlast Baltimore. (Bias Alert: I hate John Harbaugh) Winner: LAC
Philadelphia at Chicago
Everyone wrote Philly off a few weeks ago, until dead weight Carson Wentz finally gave way to the magic of Nick Foles, and the team suddenly came alive. (Seriously, what do you think Philly could get for Wentz in a trade? A lot, I’d bet. They should seriously think about it.) In some ways, this might be the trickiest pick of all this weekend. Chicago has that great defence, and their offence has been steady-to-stellar for most of the season. Trubisky is the key here. If he plays well, Chicago is golden, but if he lays an egg in the crucible of his first playoff test, there lies trouble. Philadelphia is battle-tested, having had playoff success last season, and having struggled and survived this season. If Chicago slips, Philly will pounce. If Trubisky survives his first playoff test, Chicago will be a tough out for any team from there on. I’m really looking forward to this game. Winner: Chicago