Tom Sorensen

NFL playoff picks | Which teams will brush aside the weariness of endless winter?

The game of the week and the playoffs and the season took place in Minneapolis. Above, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates after a making the 61-yard game-winning touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in Sunday’s playoff game.
The game of the week and the playoffs and the season took place in Minneapolis. Above, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) celebrates after a making the 61-yard game-winning touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in Sunday’s playoff game. AP

My NFL playoff picks have been abysmal. I went 1-3 the first two weeks. Last week, I missed victories by Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Minnesota. However, my Super Bowl winner, New England, still is playing meaningful football. That’s all I have.

So, my picks were bad, but man was the football good. The Eagles’ victory against the Atlanta Falcons was taut playoff football. The Falcons had every opportunity to win. But when they had to be good, they weren’t. When the Eagles had to be good, they were. To accomplish what they have without presumptive MVP quarterback Carson Wentz is a testament to coaches, players and leaders.

The Patriots easily beat the Tennessee Titans. Favored by 13 1/2, they won by 21. I picked them to cover, picked them by 18. So at least I got that right. Although the Titans upset Kansas City in the wild-card round, Tennessee fired head coach Mike Mularkey, who went 19-15 in two seasons. He won some games. But he failed to keep quarterback Marcus Mariota from regressing. Mariota threw more interceptions than touchdown passes this season, his third. He was harmless against the Patriots.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were unfathomable Sunday. Think about it. The Steelers are playing at home against a team that earlier this season beat them by 21. They’re one victory away from the AFC championship. And they’re Pittsburgh. Their history is fine, their fans incredible. And the Steelers come out for Jacksonville as if they’re going to play a preseason game. The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, played smart and tough and inspired.

The game of the week and the playoffs and the season took place in Minneapolis. I picked the New Orleans Saints to make the Super Bowl, but I’m from Minneapolis, and for family and friends and the fan base I was thrilled to be wrong. Also, I’m getting used to this wrong stuff.

When the Minnesota Vikings go deep into the playoffs, and lose, you know what fans get? They get winter. Winter looms. It’s everywhere, and it’s going to get you.

It’s not conventional winter. It’s evil. You go to, say, dinner. Before you leave, you think: Will the car start, when will the heater kick in, and why doesn’t the extensive downtown skyway system extend to whatever part of town I’m in?

The Vikings were out of this one. And then Case Keenum threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs, and when Diggs scored time had expired.

The Vikings protect Minnesota from the wasteland of endless winter. Winter’s coming? No, son, that’s Game of Thrones. In Minnesota, winter is here.

The temperature in Minneapolis Sunday fell to minus 10. It felt like spring.

This week’s picks:

NEW ENGLAND 9 over Jacksonville.

Minnesota 4 over PHILADELPHIA

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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