On to the games, where oddly enough our picks are identical this week so 4-0 is pretty much guaranteed! Enjoy your winnings...
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers -7.5
Durden: Brett Favre says he plans to return for an 18th season in 2008. "I want to continue the streak and winning," Favre told the Biloxi Sun Herald. "When I talk about the streak, it's not the consecutive starts; it's the hot streak we are on." Of course that’s all it is, Brett, we believe you. As for the game, I maintain that it’s hard to know which Seattle team will show up from week to week. However, assuming the Seahawks show up at all, the difference between these two teams is marginal. We want the points and we’re going to win!
Pick: Seahawks +7.5
Mazzone: I was figuring the Packers for a blowout in this game all week, but a couple things - completely unrelated to the actual game/matchup - changed my mind. The first is that I still absolutely love “We want the ball and we’re gonna score!” That’s the stuff legends are made of and it’s just plain fun. So it didn’t work out, Hasselbeck is still ok in my book for now and forever. Without that moment he’d have just been another above average but mostly irrelevant QB on another above average but mostly irrelevant team and I’d have no problem laying the points. As for the other thing that made me want to take the Seahawks, here you go. If you’re not from Green Bay, be ready to throw up…
Pick: Seahawks +7.5
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots -13.5
Durden: Fred Taylor initially considered turning down a Pro Bowl invitation if either Tomlinson, Addai or Parker couldn't make the trip for the Feb. 10 game -- he even said "maybe the Pro Bowl doesn't deserve Fred Taylor" -- but his wife convinced him otherwise. Boooo, Fred Taylor’s wife. That was the best 3rd person proclamation I’ve heard in a long time.
Anyway, this is the matchup I was hoping for, as I felt the Jaguars had a better shot to beat the Pats than the Steelers or Titans did. Were it not for the Jags’ meltdown last week, my wishful thinking was all I needed to pick them here. Unfortunately, that second half scared me enough to go with New England instead. I really hope I’m wrong, but the Patriots are coming off an extra week of rest and preparation for the first time all season. Worse for Jacksonville, NE won’t be forcing passes just to break records and is free to just play its game, for the first time in weeks. That concerns me more than anything.
Pick: Patriots -13.5
**Editors note: Fred Taylor is very underrated as far as being quotable - “maybe the Pro Bowl doesn’t deserve Fred Taylor” is solid, and "I didn't think I needed a shrink. I'm not a nut case. But I told them, I'll do it anyway. If it's free, it's me." Is downright spectacular.
Mazzone: Last week’s game with the Steelers was pretty much a repeat of the first matchup and while most will say the Jaguars were lucky to escape, I’m more inclined to give them credit for surviving. It’s not easy to beat a team twice on the road in a few short weeks, especially in a playoff atmosphere during a close game. Nonetheless, I’m sticking by my “playoffs are where game managers go to die” theory. Garrard almost cost them the game last week with the interceptions that let the Steelers back in the game and he only made one real big play and had a little help from the officials on that one. You can’t make mistakes and you have to make big plays to come close against the Pats. You better believe they are going to sell out on stopping MJD/Fred Taylor and force Garrard to beat them. I think this one gets ugly in a hurry unless one of two things happens. The Jags get big special teams plays from MJD, or the Pats/Brady just come out explicably slow.
Pick: Patriots -13.5
San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts -9
Durden: Not only am I deferring my wishful thinking pick to the Colts here, but the absence of Antonio Gates makes this a no-brainer for me. Indy needs to look strong in this one because they represent our (the free world’s) last hope.
Pick: Colts -9
Mazzone: Prior to the playoffs I had future bets on both these teams to win the Super Bowl, but much more significant one on the Colts (because this team is significantly better than last year's that won the Championship), so I’m partial here.
That being said, Marvin Harrison is back for the Colts, and Antonio Gates is out for the Chargers making this an easy pick for me, despite rooting for Chambers to be successful. If they played in San Diego and Gates was healthy they may have had a shot. As it stands, this one’s not even going to be close. I’m just rooting for a nice friendly scrimmage where Peyton and Marvin can get their timing down and everyone stays healthy so they can go into New England and take care of business.
Pick: Colts -9
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -7.5
Forget whatshername for a second. It may interest Terry Bradshaw, but I really don’t care what Romo, Witten and her father do with her in Mexico. I still simply refuse to believe Tony Romo is as good as everyone else seems to think he is.
What I am curious to see, is which receiver in this game plays up his injury more. Between Plax pretending to be hurt all year and letting us all know about it, TO’s latest injury, and Terry Glenn possibly playing for the first time all year, it’s going to be a heated battle for sure. I’m sure TO is less than 100% though, so I’m looking forward to seeing how great Romo is if the Giants do an adequate job of covering Witten. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m taking the Giants. Really though, I just don’t think any NFC team should be favored by 7 or more in the playoffs.
Pick: Giants +7.5
Mazzone: As much as the pictures of Romo fumbling the snap and crying would be amusing, there isn’t any part of me that wants to see a Dallas/Seahawks rematch. At the same time I don’t think I could tolerate Romo/Favre either. The solution… Let’s Go Eli!!!!!!!!!
This week’s trendy pick makes sense on a few levels, but probably not the most important one. The Cowboys are simply the better team, not to mention they’re healthier, even with TO hobbled – we’ve seen him perform on one leg before, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. Also, the Giants are coming off essentially three playoff/grueling games with big implications in a row, do they have anything left?
Recently, I heard Julius Jones was a great change of pace back for Marion Barber. Yea, something like that. I propose calling Julius Jones the first ever game manager at the running back position. He’ll get you 3-4 yards for the most part and won’t fumble, but don’t expect much more.
So, we know the Giants can get to Romo, and we know there’s a chance TO could struggle or re-injure himself. We also know the Cowboys insist on giving Julius Jones 10-15 touches a game. Since he’s a game manager now and the playoffs are where game managers go to die, you gotta like the Giants here.
Besides, it’d be fitting for Romo’s legacy to follow up last year’s fumble with another gut-wrenching loss this season. And the media has already started second guessing and writing the obligatory “should Tony Romo have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Mexico when he could have spent the week having sex with Jessica Simpson in Dallas?” articles.
Pick: Giants +7.5