Just because the regular season is over doesn't mean we're done picking games so you can mock us. Last week, Tex once again displayed his superior prognostication skills, making Devin and I look bad in the process, much like he did during the regular season. He was the only one of the three of us to get all four of his picks correct. I am confident that I will beat him this week.
To the picks!
Ravens vs. Broncos
Tex - Broncos: Has anyone played better football than Denver lately? I say no. Once he figured out his offense, Peyton Manning has been ridiculous, and the Broncos' defense is frightening. Denver doubled up the Ravens 34-17 in Baltimore a few weeks ago; this game could be just as one-sided.
Devin - Broncos: At the beginning of the year I predicted a Denver - Green Bay Super Bowl and there's no need to back off from that now. Denver is playing good football on both sides of the ball. It's going to be hard for the Ravens to keep up, especially on the road.
Kevin - Broncos: The Denver Broncos are the best team in football and Joe Flacco is Joe Flacco. The Ravens defense is old. This might get ugly, honestly. The Ravens won't keep this interesting without something like 6-7 yards per carry and dang near 200 yards from their backs.
Tex - Packers: Yes, Colin Kaepernick is a talented dual-threat quarterback. Yes, the 49ers beat Green Bay in week one. Yes, this game is in San Francisco. Regardless, I believe in the Packers to force Kaepernick into some poor decisions and to move the ball against the San Francisco defense. The offense has found out how to be productive against cover-2 schemes, and as long as Rodgers doesn't get hit on half his dropbacks, he'll make the throws needed to win.
Devin - Packers: Maybe I'm a homer, but I am cautiously optimistic about this game. The main two reasons for this is the general improvement to the running game, particularly the power of the defense with Brad Jones in the middle and B.J. Raji moving to DE, and the move the 49ers made at QB switching to Colin Kaepernick. The Kaepernick move plays well for the Packers because it switches the Niners' offense from one completely based on power running to one that wants to pass and pass defense is what the Packers do best.
Kevin - Packers: I'm very high on Colin Kaepernick's future and I think he's going to be a Pro Bowl quarterback. I also think that Sam Shields and Casey Hayward are playing some fantastic football right now, Charles Woodson is a calming influence on the defense, and Kaepernick is playing his first playoff game. He'll pick up some yardage on the ground and make a few big throws, but I also think he'll turn the ball over a couple times. That's why the Packers will win.
Tex - Falcons: Oh, how I want to believe in Russell Wilson. Sadly, I think this is the week that his rookie season ends, and with it will die the Packers' shot at redemption for the Fail Mary. Because they give up a lot of yards, Atlanta will need to force turnovers on defense and Wilson has avoided giving the ball away of late. The Falcons' running game hasn't been great recently, but they have two terrific wideouts that will challenge the Seahawks' talented corners. I think the key this week will be whether Tony Gonzalez can attack the middle of the field with success. I don't feel confident in this pick, but Atlanta is still a talented team and I think they'll pull off a win this week.
Devin - Seahawks: I hope I'm wrong here, but I think the Seahawks match up pretty well with the Falcons. The Hawks have the secondary to go one and one with Roddy White and Julio Jones and a pass rush that can get Matt Ryan out of sync.
Kevin - Seahawks: What's Matty Ice's new nickname going to be when he chokes for the third straight year?
Tex - Patriots: This is another rematch of a late-season butt-whipping. The troubling thing for me is that it wasn't due to the Texans turning the ball over consistently - that's an issue that could be addressed in practice by focusing on decision-making. The issue is that Houston's offense hasn't been particularly effective against anyone in the past month and a half. I believe in the Texans' defense to do a much better job this time around than on Monday night a few weeks ago, but I don't think their offense will be able to put up the 24 or so points that it will take to win this game.
Devin - Patriots: The Patriots destroyed the Texans at home late in the year and I'm at a loss to see how things have changed. Tom Brady is tough to beat at home and the Texans don't quite have enough firepower to shut him down on defense or keep up on offense.
Kevin - Patriots: If you don't think that CBS executives are colluding with Buffalo Wild Wings and the groundskeeper in Foxboro to trip Texans players during this game, you're crazy.