NFL Playoff Picks Week Two: Where dreams, and Darren Sproles' ability to remember what day it is, go to die

Scott Feschuk
Last week: 1-3
Playoffs: 1-3
Season (including playoffs): 129-121-8

Scott Reid
Last week: 3-1
Playoffs: 3-1
Season (including playoffs): 120-127-8

Scott Feschuk: First off, an invitation: Drop by Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET here at where we’ll be liveblogging the Eagles-Giants game. Flip on the TV, flip open the laptop and join in as we spend three riveting hours speculating on the precise nature of the ecosystem that’s developing in Andy Reid’s new beard. (Over there, in that dense, bristley patch – is that a… unicorn?)

In other news, my Couch Boys colleague Scott Reid soundly thrashed me in prognostic-based matters this past weekend. Reid picked correctly three out of four times. I got only one right. Although the victory was narrow – if the Vikings had better defended that screen pass to Brian Westbrook, or if Tarvaris Jackson had at any point during the season learned how to throw a forward pass, we’d each have gone 2-2 – I am man enough (anatomically speaking only) to concede defeat and make good on our bet: to write a poem in honour of the victor.

Perhaps I should go with a familiar construct…

The (Baltimore) Raven

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
When the season’s dying ember let us tally up the score.
For a grim and second straight year, you had had not such a great year
Been the target of boo and jeer – “Resign!” our readers did implore
For your record had yet again made clear that you’re
Clueless here for evermore

No, that doesn’t really strike the right vibe. Better to go with something a little more traditional…

In Praise of An Asshat

You’re round like a tire
But less charismatic
And your athletic skills
Rival those of asthmatics

For the second straight year
You got more wrong than right
You could not pick your nose
With a map and flashlight

You made coach Herm Edwards
Look like a Lombardi
Your picks seemed influenced
Not by skill but Bacardi

But last week your record
Was aided by dumb luck
And now I’m stuck writing
This ode to a numbnut

So kudos and well done
You’re a genius and much more
Let that serve as your cue
To this week go 0 and 4

Scott Reid: It’s true. You outperformed when it didn’t matter and came up wildly short when things got clutch. From now on let’s call you Denver. Wish I could say I’m surprised by your failure but frankly, you’ve not been the same since they cancelled Men in Trees. As for your poetic efforts, I find myself inspired to compose a corresponding limerick:

There once was a man from St. Kitts
Whose understanding of sports was the shits.
When he loses he cries.
And supersizes his fries.
Then he eats til he makes himself sick.

And now on to Week Two of the NFL Playoffs…

Baltimore (plus 3) at Tennessee, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
Rookie QB Joe Flacco looked pretty good against the Dolphins in the wild card, but that’s like saying a cheetah looked pretty good against an antelope on the savanna or that Rosie O’Donnell really triumphed over that plate of ribs. Let’s put Joe up against some more intimidating prey and see how he fares. Remember the Titans? They snagged the first seed in the AFC with Kerry Collins at quarterback, which can mean only one thing: their defence is great. The Ravens D is great, too, especially the five players named Ed Reed (What’s that you’re saying? There is only ONE Ed Reed and he alone made all those interceptions and stellar defensive plays last week?? That’s preposterous.) If this game gets anywhere near a total of 30 or so, it’ll be because the defences score the majority of the points. In the meantime, I predict Joe Flacco will feel compelled to use the first half of the game to get a couple things off his chest – namely, Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch. Pick: Tennessee.
I say nay! Flacco is so cool he pisses frozen yogurt. And the Ravens are Super Bowl bound. I respect what Tennessee can do on defence but Haynesworth is coming back whereas Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have stepped things up from great to Smokin’-Beyonce-Hot in the past few weeks. So I expect picks. I expect fumbles and I expect pressure. The question is which offence do you believe is best able to mix it up, stay within itself and hold onto the rock (don’t you love it when they call the football a rock? Makes me feel uber-masculine, like I’m in a prison movie).  I expect greatness from Ed Reed. But I think the Ravens play-calling will be the difference. They’ll keep control of the ball and run the clock to death. Tennessee won’t score more than 12 points and they won’t win. Pick: Baltimore

Arizona (plus 10) at Carolina, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET
A lot of folks believe that Carolina is a sleeper Super Bowl pick. On the other hand, a lot of folks believe the People’s Choice Awards recognize artistic merit. So let’s not go by what folks believe. Let’s go by facts. Here are two to keep in mind. Carolina runs the ball really, really well. Carolina also has a really really good defence. Arizona does not run the ball well. And they do not have a good defence. When commentators fall over themselves congratulating the Cards for sticking with the run last week keep in mind that effort still only netted 73 yards for Edgerrin James. Small wonder he’s walking around with a sign on his back that reads, “Hey Whisenass – Suck It”. These teams met earlier this year and the Cards lost notwithstanding a 381-yard effort from Warner. That ain’t going to happen again with Boldin missing from the line up. I’m taking the Panthers to win but Arizona to cover. Pick: Arizona.
“I’m taking the Panthers to win but Arizona to cover.” Congratulations, I see you finally got your diploma in advanced linguistics from Jimmy the Greek U. The problem with your pick is that you don’t factor in your own analysis of the game. That’s usually a smart move, given that your “analysis” typically consists of finding a way to reference Matt Ryan’s glistening pectorals, but this time you were actually on to something. Carolina is really good. Meanwhile, Arizona’s main threat – the passing game – is compromised by the fact that only Larry Fitzgerald is left standing, and he’s going to be covered more tightly that Keira Knightley’s waist in an English period drama. This will be a blowout. Pick: Carolina.

Philadelphia (plus 4) at New York Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
The temptation is to go with Philly. But look at where temptation got Bob Barker (actually, it sorta worked out great for him so scratch that). This game should be a dandy. And without Burress the Giants boast much less of an advantage (Let that be a lesson to all you kids out there who think you can fire a bullet into your own leg without hurting those who rely on you). But at the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine McNabb can win with a hobbled Westbrook. The Giants D is a fair bit stiffer than Minnesota. Chances are this game will come down to turnovers. And if Philly is forced to throw all afternoon, I think they’re more likely to toss up the ball. All that said, I like this spread about as much as house music. This game feels like it’s destined to come down to a field goal. But if I gotta choose, I’m taking the G-Men. Pick: New York
You’ve overlooked one key factor: the Eagles are all growing beards. Beards, I tell you! It’s a symbol of team unity. It’s nature’s balaclava. And on Andy Reid it’s a great place to hide a snack, like a Snickers bar or a leprechaun. Last year, the Giants entered the playoffs with momentum. This year, they’re entering the playoffs with momentum’s ugly second cousin: lethargy. But Brandon Jacobs is back, the team is well-rested and NFL bylaws prohibit next week’s conference championship games from being played without at least one Manning, so… Pick: New York.

San Diego (plus 6) at Pittsburgh, Sunday, 4:45 p.m. ET
Forget LT – the media have found their new darling: Chargers running back Darren Sproles, who stands approximately three-foot-five and should, according to the conventions of American television, already have his own catchphrase by now. Another run up the middle against the Steelers defence? Whachoo tawkin’ ’bout, Coach Turner?! Philip Rivers is playing great right now but his receivers aren’t fast or crafty enough to outrun or outwit the Steelers’ secondary. Plus it’s going to be vewy, vewy cold and poor Phwilip’s widdle fingeys will get all chilly-willy. Yes they will. Yes they will! Pick: Pittsburgh.
Not only will Darren Sproles run, catch and score his way to miniature magnificence again but afterwards he and his BFF Samwise Gamgee are going to drop that darn ring into the Crack of Doom (insert joke about chubby Byron Leftwich’s butt here). Pittsburgh is a better team with a much better defence. And they should win this game. Especially in the cold. Especially in any definition of reality where Norv Turner is the opposing head coach. But God help me, I think San Diego has it rolling and I think Rivers is going to step up and have the game of his life this Sunday – cold widdle fingeys or not.  Pick: San Diego

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