This is bar none, or in my case, bar full, the BEST weekend of the playoffs.
All four games should be entertaining through the fourth quarter—at least. Strange how history says that at least one or two teams will get drilled here.
In any event, the beer and whiskey will be flowing...and all will be right with the world. I'll be tailgating at Texas Stadium at noon and trying to nail every girl I can before kickoff.
If only every weekend could be like this one.
Of course it goes without saying that the following picks AGAINST THE SPREAD are for RECREATIONAL USE ONLY. Only Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Kiefer Sutherland, Roger Goodell, and Travis Henry's nine kids and nine mommas would be drunk enough to question the Esteemed Liver's picks.
Last week’s record: 2-1-1
Saturday, January 12th
Seattle (+8) at Green Bay
Mike Holmgren and Matt Hasselbeck return to their former home—and site of the infamous “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” bit Hasselbeck threw out the last time these two teams met in the playoffs.
I think we all remember how that turned out.
Ironically, with two of the NFL's better offenses squaring up here, defense will decide the winner. Seattle’s D was menacing against the Redskins last week, but I doubt they’ll have the same success against the Packers.
Plus, the Seahawks are a bad road team.
Pick: Green Bay
Jacksonville (+13) at New England
This is a much tougher game for the Pats than the spread would indicate—and is the dream matchup for those wanting to see New England tested.
David Garrard didn’t play especially well last week, but his 4th-and-2 scramble at the end of the game will live in playoff lore.
The Pats only weakness?
Stopping the run.
The Jags greatest strength, outside of their defense?
The running duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.
The key matchup, though, will be the Pats passing game against the Jags secondary. In the end, I don’t see the Jags being able to match the Pats point for point.
Sunday, January 13th
Do you like your Manning in the morning or the afternoon?
San Diego (+8 1⁄2) at Indianapolis
A rematch of one of the most whacked-out games of the year, from Week 10, when the Chargers BARELY beat the Colts and forced Peyton Manning into SIX INTs.
While it’s doubtful that Manning will play that badly again, the Chargers have always feasted on Peyton with a vicious pass rush.
But it's hard to believe the Chargers defense will post a repeat performance of that earlier game.
Remember that the Colts were banged up...and were still within an Adam Vinatieri chip shot of winning it outright.
The Colts will load up the box with Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders, thus daring the inconsistent Philip Rivers to throw the ball against a superb Indy secondary. If Rivers doesn't have Antonio Gates at his disposal, it could be a long day for the Chargers.
N.Y. Giants (+7 1⁄2) at Dallas
I’m trying to enjoy this week. I really am.
My team is in a divisional playoff game at home, and is the No. 1 seed in its conference. Most fans dream of this.
That said...this game worries the piss out of me AND my friends who are Cowboys fans.
My friend Brian from Austin said it best in a text message he sent me a few days ago.
“Cowboys don’t act like they care. Romo and Jessica in Cancun. Witten muttering that hopefully they won’t lose. Don’t like it. Winners don’t say that shit.”
Amen, my friend.
If the 'Boys do lose—BELIEVE ME, Romo will be hung up on a cross for taking that ill-timed vacation.
You don’t see Tom Brady or Peyton Manning taking vacations right now, do you?
The Cowboys finished December at 2-2—and it would've been 1-3 had the Lions just fallen on a fumble. That’s another December collapse in my mind. This team hasn’t looked sharp since the second half of the Green Bay game on November 29th.
As for Sunday's game—the Cowboys' hopes rest with Terrell Owens. I feel a Ferris Bueller moment coming on...
The question isn’t, “Will T.O. play?” The question is “How healthy will he be?”
With T.O. fully healthy, the Cowboys offense is as good as any in the league. Without him, they have trouble scoring TDs—and will be in serious trouble.
Terry Glenn and center Andre Gurode are also expected to play, so the Cowboys will have their full team ready. Where their heads are is another matter.
This will be the third time these two teams have seen each other this season, which also makes me nervous, because of the old football maxim, “It’s tough to beat a team three times in the same year.”
I'm trying to channel the Titans from 1999, when they beat the Jags three times, including in the AFC Championship game.
The Cowboys won the two regular-season matchups by a combined 21 points, but were fully healthy then. What's more, both games were close late in the fourth, so the scores are deceiving.
The Giants have been playing their best ball as of late, and thoroughly took apart the Bucs in the Wild Card round. New York is 8-1 on the road this year, with the lone loss coming at Dallas in Week One.
Clearly, the Giants aren't intimidated by road games.
The New York pass rush is among the best in the league, and their game plan will be to get to Romo early and often. These teams know and hate each other, so expect some hard hits...and maybe a late shot or two.
If the good Eli Manning shows up as he did in the last three quarters against Tampa, this game will go down to the wire. If the real Eli Manning shows up and throws his customary two picks, the Cowboys should have enough to get their first playoff win in 11 years.
Oh—and that Romo guy might want to get his head out of his ass and show up too.
The only thing that can save the 'Boys is the restoration of their once-dominant offense. This is one of the most difficult games I’ve ever handicapped, but...
Pick: N.Y. Giants