Last week, I went 0-3-1, but I'm not going to dwell on it too much. The only really bad call was Cincinnati, and that was a case of overweighting past results. Not only are final scores not the best measure of a team's quality (per-play averages, per-play success rates are much better), but even if one did use a good measure of prior quality, it's only somewhat predictive of future performance. Each game is completely independent of prior games, so it's incorrect to say the Bengals will win "because" they've blown out most of their opponents at home this year. That the Bengals were great at home this year was an indicator they might win, but it's certainly not a "cause" of anything happening on January 5. As for the 49ers-Packers game, now I know why I struggled with it so much.
For what it's worth, I had an easier time picking this week's divisional games than last week's wild card ones.
Saints +8 at Seahawks
The Saints acquired some road cred by beating the Eagles in Philadelphia last week, but going to Seattle is a different order of magnitude as New Orleans discovered in early December. While I don't expect a blowout to the extent of the first meeting, I do think the Seahawks will show why they were the league's best team during this year's regular season. Back Seattle.
Seahawks 31 - 20
Colts +7 at Patriots
The Colts defense was so abominable, the Chiefs put up 44 points on them without their best offensive player. Moreover, had Dwayne Bowe's foot not touched the sideline on the Chiefs final offensive play, it's very likely the Chiefs would have won the game. That said, the Patriots' defense is average at best, and their key pass catchers are Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen. New England does a good job of taking away an offense's best weapon, in this case T.Y. Hilton, but I trust Andrew Luck to find other options and make some plays with his legs. Back Indy who keeps it close and possibly wins outright.
Colts 31 - 30
49ers -1 at Panthers
The 49ers passing game looked better last week, but keep in mind Colin Kaepernick threw for 400-plus yards in Week 1 against Green Bay and came crashing down to earth when he had to face real pass defenses. It's true he has Michael Crabtree now, and that should make a difference, but so will the Panthers pass rush which roughed Kaepernick up the first time these teams met. Bottom line, these teams are roughly equal, but the Panthers are at home and getting a point. Back Carolina.
Panthers 20 - 17
Chargers +9.5 at Broncos
This game was the toughest call for me. On the one hand, the Chargers handled the Broncos in Denver a few weeks ago and have looked better on defense of late. On the other, the Chargers barely beat the Chiefs' backups at home two weeks ago, and the Broncos are rested and have had two weeks to prepare for them. Then again, Peyton Manning's track record with a week off in the playoffs isn't particularly good, and Denver's defense is missing its best player in Von Miller. While I could see a Denver blowout, the Chargers know this team well, were undaunted by the trip to chilly Cincinnati last week and are getting nearly 10 points. Back San Diego.
Broncos 29 - 27
Last week we went 0-3-1 in the Wild Card games. We were 123-123-10 on the regular season. From 1999-2012 we've gone 1,810-1,641 (52.4%), not including ties.