By Sterling Pingree
Everybody has that friend. You know, the one who always thinks they know what’s about to happen next, whether it be in a movie or a TV show, and you know immediately that whatever they say is NEVER going to happen. Why is this? Because they’re the friend that is wrong. It’s nothing to be ashamed about, we all have the “wrong friend”. I had a buddy who would tell me every Saturday mornings what college football bets he had out there. If I had been smart I would’ve gone out and bet the polar opposite of him, because I don’t think he hit a game correctly all season.
Now, I’ve told you this for a very somber reason and that’s because after two years of finishing at the bottom of The Drive football picks, I think that I am the wrong friend. I know, I’m as a stunned as you are, but as of January of 2018, I am the wrong friend. I haven’t always been like this, I used to pick games correctly, win pools and fantasy leagues but now, I’m just wrong.
However, I’ve found the solution and it’s the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs, who on earth could get these games wrong? Tennessee at KC? Please! Falcons at Rams? Come on! Buffalo at Jacksonville? Go home NFL, you’re drunk! Panthers at Saints? Dilly Dilly! (Whatever that means!)
AFC: Titans at Chiefs
The Titans were the good bad team in the NFL for most of the season and as they limped home down the stretch, I’m not even sure they’re that anymore. Every year in the playoffs’ first round, we see a team that we look at and say “How did this team get a wild card?” With the Chargers and Ravens sitting at home and the Bills and Titans occupying wild card spots, we’ll be saying that all weekend long. This game leads off on Saturday afternoon in the “ESPN got screwed in their deal for the Monday Night Football package” spot. Don’t believe me, here are the games that ESPN has had to lead off Wild Card Saturday with the last 3 years:
2016: Houston 27 Oakland 14 in Houston. Derek Carr was out for Oakland meaning Conner Cook got the chance to go 18-45 for 161 yards, 1 touch down and 3 interceptions. Brock Osweiler started for Houston. Eeek
2015: Kansas City 30 Houston 0 in Houston. This one was bowling shoe ugly. The only memorable part of this game was JJ Watt lining up at fullback with a groin injury, fun times.
2014: Carolina 27 Arizona 16 in Carolina. Four things you should know about this one: Ryan Lindley started at QB for Arizona, it rained in Charlotte, this game looked like a flag football game without the flags and the game broke loose on a touch down by a man named Fozzy.
As a Pats fan, the ideal scenario is for Tennessee to beat KC and Jacksonville beats Buffalo setting up Pats-Titans and Steelers-Jags in the Divisional round. Sadly, only half of that will happen. The Chiefs have rediscovered at least some of their early season mojo, while the Titans have lost any that they ever had this year, plus Demarco Murray. I can’t imagine the Titans winning at Arrowhead.
Chiefs 27 Titans 9
AFC: Bills at Jaguars
Kind of an interesting game on the surface, the Bills are in the playoffs for the first time since Y2K happened and we’ve spent a week hearing stories about how happy Bills fans are. That’s all well and good until you try to come up with something that Buffalo does good on a football field. That hard hitting defense that Rex Ryan was supposedly developing, never happened. Tyrod Taylor is the new Mendoza line for quarterbacks apparently and their only frightening offensive weapon, LeSean McCoy isn’t going to be 100% for this Sunday’s game. Jacksonville’s defense has been the apple of the eyes of cool football pundits all year long, featuring a good secondary and sack master Calais Campbell. This is only a fun game to think about if you’re drinking your 17th Natural Light and are about to jump off an RV through a plastic folding table. In reality, you’re probably better off searching for next year’s Christmas tree than watching this game.
Jacksonville 33 Buffalo 16
NFC: Falcons at Rams
This is the game I am looking forward to the most this weekend. I am a big fan of aesthetics when it comes to watching sports and there are few venues better to watch football games played at than the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. How great was the Rose Bowl last Monday between Georgia and Oklahoma? It’s a perfect football setting and while it will be dark on the east coast when this game starts in prime time, the sun will just be setting in Pasadena, California. The Rams have been one of the most fun teams to watch this season and a match up with the defending NFC champions should make for compelling theatre, if not a great game.
We’ve spent all season waiting for the Falcons from 2016 to show up and they haven’t done it yet, but there is something about the conference champion the following season. Knocking them out of the playoffs is always tougher than it seems like it should be and for a team with a quick turn around like the Rams had from the Dark Ages of Jeff Fisher to the Golden Age now of Sean McVey, the lights will be pretty bright on Saturday night.
That all being said, only a fool wouldn’t take the Rams at home.
Rams 38 Falcons 24
NFC: Panthers at Saints
One of the things I like about the postseason is that you weed out the hay from the chaff and avoid match ups that you see too often. None of that is the case in this game. This promises to be one of the two best games of the weekend, but I could hardly care less. I’ve come to the conclusion, that I just hate the NFC South. The Falcons, Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers, I swear they only play each other all season long. It is perhaps the most competitive division in the league, it has marquee quarterbacks like Brees, Newton and Ryan and I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but this season the NFC South features THREE PLAYOFF TEAMS! I’m just sick of this division I guess, because everything stated above should make the NFC South the most fun in the NFL. I’ll have this game on, but I won’t enjoy it. It’s the leftover Christmas ham of games. It’s fine. I’ll have some. I’m sick of it, but I’ll have some just to clean it up so we can move on to something else. I’ll watch this game, but just because it will decide who plays in two NFC playoff games next week.
Saints 30 Panthers 24
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.