It was as ego-sapping of an experience as I’ve ever been subject to in my 40-plus years of sports writing.
“Wild-Card Weekend” proved to be a total bust. I don’t think I’ve ever picked a group of games where I misfired on every single pick.
To be fair, the home team more often than not wins these games, but last week the road teams went 3-1, the only team to hold serve being the Dallas Cowboys. I picked the other three home teams and went against the Cowboys.
It’s enough to make a man want get out of the predicting business. But I've got to eat and pay the bills.
Reaction was predictably swift and brutal. I had some folks ask me who I was picking this week so they could plunk down their money on the opposite team. Ridicule was the rule, not the exception. I think people enjoy kicking a man when he’s down for their own personal sadistic satisfaction.
I’m picking myself back up by the bootstraps and trudging on. And I could very well go 0-4 again this week. That’s OK, I get it. But I won’t be deterred by one bad week (along with picking Alabama to win the CFB national championship game).
• Kansas City 38, Indianapolis 35 — The knee-jerk reaction after Indianapolis’ surprise dominating win was to roll with the Colts, who were once 1-5 and are now are 11-6.
Past history would indicate the Colts are the easy pick. They have broken the Chiefs’ heart on a couple of occasions and sent them out of the playoffs.
But I think this year is different and the reason is Patrick Mahomes. He’s a swashbuckler, confident and with him at the controls, the Chiefs are never out of a game.
I subscribe to the “they are due theory.” And the Chiefs are way, way past due to be in the AFC Championship Game.
• Los Angeles Rams 28, Dallas 21 — The Rams had Super Bowl written all over them 10 weeks into the season.
But then Jared Goff reverted to his rookie form and Todd Gurley was banged up. The Rams suddenly became very ordinary.
But no team perhaps benefitted from the open week more. Gurley hopefully is at least 90 percent and the defense also had some healing to do.
Dallas was ferocious last week on defense. The offense was lukewarm, but you are going to see Zeke Elliott and more Zeke Elliott this week. The Cowboys will put the ball in his hands and trust him to win the game.
• New England 27, Los Angeles Chargers 24 — Why can’t I pull the trigger on the Chargers? Is it because of my disdain for cry me a (Philip) Rivers?
This game screams of a Chargers win. They have the defense to do it and can run the ball behind Melvin Gordon.
But two reasons keep me from doing it — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
And my other motto is “always pick the Patriots at home.”
• New Orleans 24, Philadelphia 21 — Another game that just begs me to take the road team because of Nick Foles magic.
But I can’t. I had the Eagles in the Super Bowl at the start of the year, but they have to run out of magic. Last week it was another Cody Parkey shank that gave them new life. Generally when a team gets a break like that, it builds on it and eventually cashes in.
Drew Brees already has a Super Bowl ring on his resume. He would elevate himself higher on the GOAT for quarterbacks with another title.