We’ve reached the business end of the NFL Playoffs, and Joe found himself on the business end of John’s picks, which vaulted the underdog into the driver’s seat.
Who wins this weekend’s games? Who makes the right picks? Read on.
#4 Cincinnati Bengals at #2 Kansas City Chiefs
John: This is the rare instance where pundits can’t make a claim that one team is fresher than the other. Not one team had a laugher, an easy win, or even a victory formation last weekend. All four teams are gassed and it’s a matter of who can rebound from the greatest weekend of football we might ever see. While we all take our collective breathes and marvel at those games, four teams are preparing for the next round of the playoffs. When it comes to the AFC Championship Game, that edge in preparation easily falls to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Andy Reid’s team can act like they’ve been there before, because…well, this is their fourth straight appearance in the AFC Championship game. While the Patrick Mahomes family suite might not be taking a veteran approach to this playoff run, the Chiefs have too much talent and experience to not grasp home field advantage and head to the Super Bowl again.
Joe Burrow does have the swagger of a gunslinger waiting for an overconfident adversary, but the cool customer doesn’t have the team around him to overcome the Chiefs at Arrowhead. This game could turn into a shootout that has us on the edge of our seats…but I am confident that the Chiefs will return to The Big Game (TM). Pick: Chiefs
Joe: Okay, first of all, when I submitted this, the intro said “…which vaulted the traditionally inferior picker…” I’d like a word with our editor.
Second of all, the whole thing with the Bengals is cute, but let’s get real. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are not losing this game. Not after that game against Buffalo. Not after last year’s Super Bowl loss. It’s not happening. No. Stop it. No. Pick: Chiefs (seven-point lock of the year)
Editor’s Note: There is no such thing as a “seven-point lock of the year.”
#6 San Francisco 49ers at #4 Los Angeles Rams
Joe: I’m gonna let John make his pick first so I can change mine if necessary.
John: No player has found the level of redemption in these playoffs that Matthew Stafford has achieved. While Joe and I both attributed his legacy to the fact that he was under center for the Detroit Lions, the fact remains that people have labeled Stafford as a guy that can’t get it done. I think we’ve all learned what a change of scenery can do for a quarterback by watching Stafford toss touchdowns this season.
The Rams have the edge in this game. In addition to home field, they have much more all-around depth on their roster. Both defenses can play at an elite level, but it’s clear that only the Rams are loaded on offense. While I do expect DeMeco Ryans to not put single coverage on Cooper Kupp late in the game, I can’t imagine that it will matter. The first team to host a conference title game and Super Bowl in the same year, this game is a lock for the Rams. Pick: Rams (Lock)
Joe: Oh, come on. I was ready to talk about Matt Stafford taking the monkey off his back and hurtling it out of a tractor trailer and onto a highway, in a very topical reference, but I need to make some moves here. I can’t let John cruise into the Super Bowl with a lead.
The Rams blew out the Cardinals in the Wild Card Round, while the 49ers did everything possible to lose to Dallas before the Cowboys declined the proverbial Venmo transaction and sent San Fran to Green Bay.
The Rams then did their best to pull a Falcons and got bailed out by Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and the Tampa Bay defense. The 49ers did literally nothing, nothing at all, until they blocked a punt within an arm’s length of the end zone.
All the indications are that the Rams are the better team, and the better team is more likely to win the game. So that’s why I’m taking San Francisco. Pick: 49ers
Last Week: Joe: 1-4 (0-1); John: 3-2 (0-1)
Playoffs: Joe: 6-6 (1-1); John: 8-4 (1-1)