4-0, putos. The only thing that can explain it is that I've stayed away from the pundits, which has kept me with a clear head.
On we go to the divisional round. I'm writing this before the pundits get to me, because with fresh snow on the ground, it will be harder to get out and away from the television. Bokolis feels confident about marking so early and would only amend picks in an extraordinary circumstance.
Ravens (+3) over STEELERS - The two regular season games didn't tell you much; two tough matches, the Ravens winning without Ruthlessbuggerer and the Steelers stealing (n/p/i) the game down in Baltimore. I just think the Ravens are a slightly better team than the Steelers, have no qualms about playing on the road, and will find a way to exploit their main advantages, Boldin and Ray Rice, in ways that they didn't during the previous two meetings.
FALCONS (-2.5) over Packers - Had to get this in before it went to 3. As you saw with the BCS game on Monday night, falling right on the number is not fun. Green Bay dominated the Eagles- even had a 100-yard rusher- and still had to fight off a final drive. The Packers are a tough team, but they do not play crisply. Even if they play as well in Atlanta, against a markedly better team than the Eagles, it will be good enough for them to lose a close game.
BEARS (-10) over Seahawks - Just as the Seahawks home field advantage was discounted too much because of their regular season record, their road disadvantage (12PM game out east, which has typically been a disaster for the Seahawks) is being discounted because of their latest performance...though it's not discounted as much as it was when the line opened, as we now have to lay the full 10.
Bokolis is fully aware that the Seahawks defeated the Bears in Chicago this season. But it was before Chicago's bye week, so you can toss that result right out the window. Besides, I have a hazy memory of some unusal events occurring in that game. 9-7 teams can get it together for playoff runs, but I have decidedly less faith in a 7-9 team, especially in Seattle's circumstances. If Cutler can keep from playing like a jagoff, the Bears should smoke the Seahawks.
PATRIOTS (-8.5) over Jets - OOOOoohh!!! The main event. How cheesy was FOX' constant referral to the late Sunday game as the headliner?! Serves them right that it was a dreary game.
These teams split the season series, but the Jets were embarrassed in New England. The two Jets victories over New England under Rex Ryan were the result of the Patriots getting tired of being hit. Without the malaise that accompanied the cancer Moss, the Patriots have dialed up the intensity and have returned to their championship formula of methodical, superb execution. They have torched the league, only stubbing their toe against the Browns, which is a throwaway at this point.
To win this game, the Jets will have to reprise and outdo the tactics that won the game at Indy. Basically, they have to beat the Patriots the way the Giants did in the SB XLII, pound the hell out of them and keep possession for 40 minutes. Unfortunately for the Jets, the Patriots know this is coming and watched the Jets do it to Indy. The Jets are tough and play with heart, so I expect them to fight the good fight...and still lose by over two touchdowns.