We went 1-2-1 last week, with losses coming on Carolina and Indy, both of which were the wrong sides, but the games were full of bad calls and junk plays. Not much to look into there aside from two of the bigger gaffes in recent memory, covered in detail here.
Let's take a look at the conference title games.
Patriots +4.5 at Broncos
The Manning-Brady face-off will get most of the press, but one of them is wielding an elephant gun, while the other has a slingshot. Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker would all easily be top targets on the Pats while Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola would fight with Andre Caldwell to see the field for the Broncos. Neither defense is especially good, though each has one top cover corner. And while the Pats have become an effective running team, Denver is competent at stopping the run, allowing only 3.9 YPC (10th). As always, the Patriots have the advantage in game planning and decision-making, but I don't think it's enough to make up for the disparity in talent. Back Denver.
Broncos 31 - 23
49ers +3.5 at Seahawks
This is a clash between the team playing better right now and the one that played better all year. Are the season-long or recent stats more dispositive? In recent years, teams with modest regular-season stats like the Ravens and Giants turned it up in the playoffs. And the Niners started from a far higher baseline than those other upstarts. Moreover, the Niners played most of the year without two key players, Michael Crabtree and Aldon Smith, both difference-makers in the playoffs so far. But the first game between these teams in Seattle this year was a blowout, and even the second, one the Niners won in San Francisco, was a coin-flip until the very end. While the public is all over the Niners based on their recent play and on-paper offensive superiority, I think the Seahawks are better defensively, have the better quarterback and are at least as physical. And they're playing in one of the toughest home venues in the league. Back the Seahawks.
Seahawks 27 - 17
Last week we went 1-2-1 to put us at 1-5-2 for the playoffs. We were 123-123-10 on the regular season. From 1999-2012 we've gone 1,810-1,641 (52.4%), not including ties.