Last Week, Straight Up: Joe (3-1); Aaron (2-2)
Last Week, vs. Spread: Joe (2-2); Aaron (2-2)
Total, Straight Up: Joe (6-2); Aaron (3-5)
Total, vs. Spread: Joe (3-4-1); Aaron (4-4)
New England at Denver (-5)
Joe: There's no better time for New England to get beat than when their fans have worked themselves up into a lather of Manning-based overconfidence. It would be tempting to suspect that the universe would be looking to correct their misapprehensions. But things don't seem to be working out that way this year. There were good reasons to think the Red Sox would lose all the way up until they won the World Series. Am I really going to walk through that same hell-gauntlet with the Patriots? Somehow the team that has decided to place its entire postseason hopes on the unnaturally stocky shoulders of LaGarrette Blount is bound to succeed and leave me with two weeks of "Greatest Team of All Time or GREATEST Team of All Time" articles. Because there is no God, and nature is a hostile beast.
Pick: New England 31, Denver 21
Aaron: Look...MY Super Bowl was last week. The Broncos wholly satisfying obliteration of (sigh) "Bolt Nation" saved us all from a Chargers vs. Patriots AFC Championship game in which there would be NO WINNERS. Like, tic-tac-toe or WarGames (the 1983 movie, not the NWA/WCW innovation) or voting libertarian. The Chargers played surprisingly conservative on offense against the Broncos. A mistake that Mumbling Bill Belichick is unlikely to repeat. Equally unlikely? That Broncos head coach John Fox will outcoach anyone. That means Denver will have to win on talent alone. Now that Peyton Manning's "legacy" appears to be on the line every week now, I'll
that he leads his team to a last second win with a perfectly-placed lollipop
pass to the back of the end zone and into the arms of, oh, let's say...Moe.
Pick: Denver 34, New England 33
San Francisco at Seattle (-3.5)
Joe: So long as the universe is being hostile to me personally, they might as well throw Jim Harbaugh and WWE-level diva routine along with everything else. The man is the Jimmy Hart of the NFL, hopping around on the sidelines like he does. Get him a fleur-de-lis jacket and throw Canadian Earthquake on the offensive line and call it a day. ANYWAY, this hostile-universe theory hits a bit of a skid here, because it's not like Pete Carroll is in any way supportable either. He's not as demonstrably objectionable, he's just kind of a wiener. A wiener with a strong home-field advantage.
Pick: Seattle 24, San Francisco 20
Aaron: I've doggedly picked against the 49ers all postseason, so I suppose I should ride this wave all the way to shore. (Apologies...it's been 80 degrees every day since early December here in San Diego. Consequently, the state of California is under extreme drought conditions relating to both precipitation AND appropriate metaphors.) I do enjoy 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's burgeoning dickish-ness, on-field taunts and condescending interviews. I can do without the media's acceptable Negro positioning of Seattle QB Russell Wilson -- articulate! prepared! classy! But, I don't expect either quarterback to figure in the decision here. These two teams are similar enough to play out the whole "irresistible force vs. immovable object" dynamic that usually produces great drama in the buildup and a boring stink bomb when the game plays out. Or, have we ALL forgotten the events in Pontiac, Michigan -- 1987? This will be a low-scoring, ugly affair that the NFL will retroactively describe as a defensive masterpiece in future season yearbook DVD releases.
Pick: Seattle 15, San Francisco 12