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NFL Picks, Wild-Card Round: Home Sweet Road

Jan 7, 2010 – 9:00 PM
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Dave Goldberg

Dave Goldberg %BloggerTitle%

Tom BradyOK, I staggered through the final week at 8-8 and finished the regular season over .500 against the spread, only about the sixth or seventh time in 26 years that I've done it. (No applause please. I had to build a big cushion early when people weren't tanking games on purpose and bad teams were so bad it was easy to build up a plus side by picking against them.)

On to the playoffs, where I usually do well because form usually holds -- not this year, though, because there is no form. New Orleans crashed, the Colts tanked games and lost their momentum and teams that didn't rest players -- the Cards and Patriots, to name two -- lost them to injury. Or, in Arizona's case, at least got them hurt enough so we don't know what we'll get. So don't call your bookie or go to Vegas on these -- you may think you know it, but I'm shaky about the way this season ended.

In order of appearance:
OK, how does the team that lost this matchup 37-0 come back six days later as a three-point underdog?

I suppose it's because the Bengals didn't try very hard. And because the conditions at the Meadowlands, where passing is difficult at this time of year, played into the hands of the Jets, who run well and stop the run.

No, Carson Palmer won't go 1-of-11 for 0 yards this week. But he hasn't been playing well, which makes me think there may be an injury we don't know about (yes, NFL teams hide injuries.) Beyond that, Darrelle Revis can shut down Ochocinco in Cincinnati as well as in New Jersey.

Jets at Bengals

Team Point Spread Projected Score
New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals -3 10

Andy Reid says the Eagles will show much better this week. I believe them. After last week's loss to the Cowboys, Donovan McNabb threw his young players under the bus -- don't know if it was a big luxury bus; a two-car city bus or a little school bus. He later apologized.

Here are the problems. The Cowboys are really good right now. Forget Tony Romo's alleged "choking.'' He's playing as well as he ever has. Miles Austin started only half the season and still made the Pro Bowl. And the defense has two straight shutouts. It's not only DeMarcus Ware. It's Anthony Spencer, Michael Jenkins and the ancient Keith Brooking, who is the leader they haven't had.

Eagles at Cowboys

Team Point Spread Projected Score
Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
- 4 27

I know. The Pats are a lock at home in the playoffs.

Except that they played Wes Welker last week and lost him. That means the Ravens -- even with dubious play all season at cornerback -- can probably take Randy Moss out of the game (and allow the Moss-bashers to bash him afterwards), The Patriots also are hurt up front and young in the secondary. Watch Ray Rice and the rejuvenated Willis McGahee run.

OK, these aren't the old Ravens and the Pats don't lose playoff games at home. Or any games of any kind.

But I'll go with my gut. And the fact that David Tyree, who killed the Pats a couple of years ago, now plays for Baltimore.

Ravens at Patriots

Team Point Spread Projected Score
Baltimore Ravens 20
New England Patriots - 3 16
We don't know about Anquan Boldin's availability -- or, more likely, his effectiveness playing with knee and ankle injuries. We're not sure about Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Both arguments for sitting starters in meaningless games.

At least the Cardinals made the playoffs, something Super Bowl losers don't do very often. Thank the NFC West for that one. The Packers have won seven of eight so they have the momentum you're supposed to have going in.

Packers at Cardinals

Team Point Spread Projected Score
Green Bay Packers 27
Arizona Cardinals - 1 17
Last Week: 8-8 (spread); 11-5 (Straight up)

Season: 130-122-4 (spread); 163-93 (straight up)
Filed under: Sports