Balt @ Den – I realize the game has already started but it’s 7-7, so this prediction is sort of still valid. I have this as a close one. Lots of people (Vegas included) have the Broncos having an easy time with Balt. Not me. The game a few weeks ago (when Denver crushed Balt in Balt) was eye opening at the time but not necessarily too meaningful. This game means a lot and Balt will be there to play. While Flacco always seems 1-2 mistakes away from melting down (kind of like Cutler/Schaub in a way), I think he plays well today and the Balt D plays Manning and Denver’s offense tough. In the end, I think Balt gets edged, but barely. Den 27, Balt 24.
GB @ SF – As I wrote before this is a tough game to predict. I won’t be surprised if either team wins. It’s sort of like trying to decide who will commit suicide first – Sarah McLachlan or Ray LaMontagne. The Pack brings serious offensive punch to this one, especially with DuJuan Harris’ recent productivity. I think the 49ers D will do a decent job against our high-powered offense but our offense will do more damage against their good D than their offense will do against our OK D. This is the closest I’ve come in a long time to restoring some credibility and NOT picking the Packers. But I can’t do that. I will say, if they win and Atlanta wins tomorrow, I’m taking Atlanta next week. Packers 23, 49ers 20.
Hou @ NE – Lots of people see this as a blowout. I don’t. Again, similar to my thoughts for Balt today – this is the playoffs and it doesn’t often happen that a team comes in totally unfocused and gets blown out. It does happen yes, but it won’t happen in this game. Houston has some serious talent and if they can get something going I think they’ll stick with NE for a time – and then fade late. Ultimately again, I don’t think Schaub has the mental make-up to get past mistakes. If he plays mistake-free they have a chance, but I don’t think he will. NE 31, Hou 27.
Sea @ Atl – Lots of people are sticking with Seattle here as they are clearly the hot team in the league right now. But I think Pete Carroll’s magic positive potion is going to wear off in this game against a super fired up and ready Atlanta team. Atlanta has a great QB, in my opinion one of the league’s best coaches, and some outstanding talent sprinkled about the rest of the team. While I worry about picking against Seattle mostly because of Russell Wilson and his uncanny ability to produce results, I just don’t think the magic can last much longer. Atlanta 27, Seattle 21.