As this is a Bears blog, and the teams playing today are sadly and decidedly not the Bears, I won’t waste too much of your time. But I think more than other sports, neutral fans enjoy watching the NFL playoffs. As I’ve noted a few times already (barely a month in and I’m already repeating myself, not a good sign) there are only so many football weekends to enjoy. It makes sense to make the most of them, even if your team was cruelly eliminated on a ridiculous blown coverage in the final game of the regular season. (Still beat the Lions ending.)
Saints at Seahawks 4:30 ET, FOX
Interestingly, Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch have the call for FOX today; they bumped last year’s secondary playoff crew of Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick out of the rotation. (It’s almost like all of our criticisms of Brennaman’s performances this year had merit. Who knew?) The Saints were absolutely hammered when they visited Seattle for Week 13’s Monday Night Football game, losing 34-7. The Seahawks are obviously a formidable team to face at CenturyLink Field. That said, I don’t think we’ll see a repeat of that blowout, and I actually think the Saints have a good chance of winning; I have more faith in the Saints defense than the Seattle offense, for whatever (probably misguided) reason. I so, so badly want to pick New Orleans here, but I think Seattle’s defense is just too talented. Seahawks win.
Colts at Patriots 8:15 ET, CBS
Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf have the call for this one, in what will be Dierdorf’s final broadcast. This is another game I’m struggling to pick; I think both teams have major flaws. The Patriots are thin on offense, but the Colts defense is a sort of Gossamer Curtain. (I shudder to think what that makes the 2013 Bears defense.) The Brady/Belicheck factor is always present, of course, and it feels like Indy’s chances rest with Andrew Luck having a nearly perfect game. I just don’t think he’s there yet; this chance feels like it’s about one season too soon relative to Luck’s developmental curve; I’ll go with New England at home. (But I’ll be rooting against them, which has nothing to do with my Indiana residence. I just don’t like the Patriots. Total hater.) Interestingly, if Denver wins Sunday, the NFL has a dream scenario regardless of who wins this game; Manning vs. Brady or Manning vs. the Colts are both highly intriguing storylines, and both games would do a massive number for CBS, I’m sure. (I’m also sure we’ll hear a lot about that from certain conspiracy-prone corners of the media world if the Broncos get a few favorable calls on Sunday.)
Enjoy the games!