This weekend is one of the best times of the year. It’s a new year. It’s almost my birthday. And the NFL Playoffs have officially arrived. The pizza and wings taste better. The beer is more refreshing. And your bank account will be full if you follow my advice betting this weekend’s games. Normally, I’d be throwing out some advanced stats and research to wow you with my football knowledge. Luckily for me, these games are all slam dunks, so I don’t need to this week. The latent prognosticating powers that fill the Brian’s Den won’t need to be summoned just yet. Or will they? On to the games
Oakland Raiders vs Houston Texans (-4.5)
Dear God, why? What the Atlanta Hawks are to NBATV playoff games, the Texans are to the afternoon wildcard Saturday kickoff. Make no bones about it. This will be the worst game of all time. Connor Cook vs. Brock Osweiler. A clash of titans. I’d say it’s the worst quarterback matchup in playoff history but it’s an insult to quarterbacking to call Brock a quarterback. I’ll say this loud and clear: the Texans STINK. S.T.I.N.K. They’re horrible. The fact that they went 7-1 at home is a minor miracle. Everything in this game favors the Raiders. Raiders can’t stop the pass. Well, the Texans have the worst passing game since the 1930s. Raiders are good against the run. Texans can’t really run it, either. Texans can’t rush the passer without J.J. Watt. Raiders have the best offensive line in the league (yeah, I said it. I know it’s sacrilege to imply the mighty Cowboys don’t have the best group of five people ever assembled in the history of Western Civilization, but someone has to do it). Raiders will score, at most, 17 points. That’s 16 more than it will take to win this abomination of a game.
PICK: Raiders +4.5
Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks (-8)
The Lions predictably blew it at the end of the regular season, so now instead of a home game and possible first round bye, they get to travel to Seattle for a night game where they have to deal with all the “12s”. (Side note: If you identify yourself as a “12” I hope you die a painful death. They’re so annoying and have such a persecution complex (Hey, aren’t you a Patriots fan? Yes, but we’re not talking about me). They’re more a fan of being a fan than the actual team, who the majority of the “12s” probably didn’t know existed before 2010. They’re always the people who throw out the word classy, even though it’s such a lame, wet blanket argument and their beloved coach is a confirmed 9/11 truther. And these stupid noise competitions they have with other stadiums are just so vomit inducing. Hey, 12s, you know 90% of stadium noise is artificial right? God, I hate them. Go sip your artisanal IPA and tell me about how no one respects Bobby Wagner you loser. But I digress.) Despite the Seahawks penchant for randomly blowing seemingly easy games, this game is pretty simple to predict. Matt Stafford hasn’t been the same since his finger injury and this Seahawks team will eat him alive.
PICK: Seahawks -8
Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5)
It’s easy to point to the game back in week 6 and say that it won’t go the same way now that Matt Moore is quarterback instead of the immortal Ryan Tannehill. But people keep forgetting that Ryan Tannehill sucks. Matt Moore has done okay as the fill-in starter, and this Dolphins team is just as hot as the perennially dangerous Steelers. Most likely due to their rich history and standings as two of the three most popular teams in the NFL, the Steelers and Packers are always talked about like one win makes them terrifying. The Steelers could be 0-15 but win their last game and people would be like “Watch out, here come the Steelers! Don’t let Big Ben and the boys get hot!” The Packers get the same treatment, and neither team has done much of anything since they met in Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers have so many crazy playmakers on offense, but their defense isn’t good and they never win big games. Jay Ajayi completely shredded this team earlier, and the Steelers haven’t exactly become the 2000 Ravens since. I’m not sure if the Steelers even win. They sure aren’t covering.
PICK: Dolphins +10.5
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers (-4.5)
The easiest game on the board. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers couldn’t be hotter, going against a Giants team that finished the season decently, but hardly hot. 15 touchdown passes during this 6-game winning streak. The defense is playing less bad, which is all you need against this sputtering Giants offense. Eli couldn’t look worse. The game is in hallowed Lambeau Field, where opposing teams never win playoff games. Except when they do. Which, lately, is all the time. This is the most perfect Giants playoff scenario of all time. Giants are winning this game. If you don’t think they are, you don’t pay attention and I hate you for adding to the Giants mythos. If you think this is a ploy to try and jinx them, you’re wrong. My mush powers have nothing on the Giants playoff juju.
PICK: Giants +4.5