By the end of business tomorrow, we will be down to four teams left in the race for the Super Bowl. Let's take a look at this week's matchups.
Baltimore at Denver: The media is selling the idea that the AFC title game will have Denver playing New England. Personally, I'd rather not see that happen, and there are better storylines in play. However, television & Madison Avenue have an undue influence on the league. That having been said, the last ride of Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis ends in Denver today. The beancounters at the league office are already counting the money from Papa John's in anticipation of newly minted franchisee Peyton Manning advancing to the big game. The Ravens will keep it close, and that's about it. Broncos, 27-24.
Houston at New England: The Texans were rudely dissed as the Patriots ran up the score---and likely broke a few rules along the way, as they seem to do almost every time at home---last month on ESPN. However, expect Houston to make some adjustments to deal with the Patriot defense. Bill Belichick and company have been talking like they think Arian Foster will hurt them this time. He'll get his points, true, but I also expect Tom Brady to take his lumps from JJ Watt before the day is done. Patriots, 31-28.
Green Bay at San Francisco: The 49ers upended the Packers the first week of the season. While San Francisco has the home field advantage, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are hungry for some payback. The 49ers, after signing ex-Giant Brandon Jacobs as a free agent last year, cut him before the playoffs. They barely used him at all, feeling that he wasn't enough of a complement for Frank Gore and 2011 draft pick Kendall Hunter. I'd not be surprised if Jacobs returns to the Giants for next season. The Pack are entirely healthy, and just in time. Game, set, & match, Green Bay. Packers, 34-31.
Seattle at Atlanta: The Falcons are 0-3 in the playoffs in the Mike Smith-Matt Ryan era. Seattle rookie Russell Wilson is making a case that they should include playoff stats in the voting for Rookie of the Year, not that it would help his cause any, but he is the last rookie QB still in the tournament as of now. That doesn't figure to change any time soon. Marshawn Lynch is enjoying a revival in Seattle, which must make Buffalo fans wonder why he left in the first place. Pete Carroll should consider making travel plans again, this time to the midwest. Seahawks, 31-30.
Of course, I could be wrong.