The opening games of the NFL playoffs were, with the exception of Seattle-Washington, boring. They werent BCS Championship Game Alabama-Notre Dame or Alabama-Louisiana State boring. They were predictable. All four favorites won.
Cincinnati couldnt make enough plays in a 19-13 loss to Houston. Minnesota established in a 24-10 loss to Green Bay that the wishbone doesnt work too well in the NFL. Indianapolis struggled to find the end zone in a 24-9 loss to Baltimore. The Redskins lost a two-touchdown lead and their quarterback in the best of the Wild Card games.
I went 3-1. I felt compelled to pick an upset and chose the Colts.
My Lock of the Week was Seattle. The Seahawks were favored by three. They won by 10. I picked the Lock correctly the last two weeks of the regular season, too.
This weeks picks, with the home team in CAPS:
DENVER 27, Baltimore 23: The Ravens are my Lock. Im not picking them to win. Im saying that the Broncos, a 9½-point favorite, wont cover.
Ray Lewis, who returned last week, makes such an impact. I once went to the Baltimore locker room after a game and Lewis didnt have a seat in front of his locker. He had a throne. Every teammate, no matter how big or how effective, deferred. His impact, obviously, is greater than what he contributes on the field. When hes around, the Ravens expect to win. They were emotional and effective last week.
The Broncos have too much to lose. But the Ravens at least will compete.
SAN FRANCISCO 29, Green Bay 27: I changed my pick on this one. I wanted to pick the Packers. Heres the problem. The Packers have a very good receiving corps, no running game, an average offensive line and an erratic defense. The only reason to pick them is because their quarterback is the NFLs best. New Englands Tom Brady and Denvers Peyton Manning are testaments to sustained excellence. But Aaron Rodgers is more effective.
The 49ers, however, have so much talent at so many positions that I cant justify picking against them.
Seattle 33, ATLANTA 30: I changed my pick on this one, too.
This is my upset.
I dont really believe in momentum, not in the playoffs. But you saw what the Seahawks did last week. Rally from 14 down on the road, and even if the opposing quarterback is hobbled you did something. Its all working for Seattle, offense and defense, and it has earned the right to play with utter confidence.
I respect the Falcons. They were assembled beautifully, player by player, position by position. Theyre a better team than the Seahawks.
But these are the playoffs.
NEW ENGLAND 37, Houston 28: In 2002, in New Orleans, the site of this seasons Super Bowl, the Patriots upset St. Louis. They have since won Super Bowls against Carolina and Philadelphia and lost two Super Bowls to the New York Giants.
Think about it. St. Louis subsequently bottomed out, as did the Panthers, and this season Philadelphia joined them. The coaches the Patriots beat in the Super Bowl no longer are with their teams.
Yet Brady and Bill Belichick continue to win. I dont think Brady is the best quarterback of all time, but you can make a case he is. Theres not a better coach in football, at any level, than Belichick.
Ive been on the Houston bandwagon since before the season began. The Texans are a good team, and we had a good ride. It ends Sunday.