Ten Bold and Beautiful Playoff Predictions:
1. Behind their fearless two-headed running back tandem, an opportunistic 3-4 defense and a wild home crowd taking in its first playoff game in Texans franchise history, Houston beats Cincinnati in the rare playoff game where Wade Phillips comes away looking like a genius
2. In games played in their building on primetime TV this year, the Saints beat the Colts 62-7, the Giants 49-24, the Lions 31-17 and the Falcons 45-16. They'll handle the upstart Lions in similar fashion, capitalizing on a crowd that's had an entire Saturday on Bourbon Street to "prepare" and a young Lions defense that surrendered six touchdowns to Matt Flynn last week.
3. The Saints, then, promptly go out to San Francisco, where they'll be favored by four to five points, and get smacked around by a 49ers team no one's respecting. Outside of the friendly confines of the Superdome, the Saints are a different team. The 49ers will own the line of scrimmage, milk the clock and knock off everybody's "sexy" Super Bowl pick. Had the Saints beaten either the Rams or Buccaneers earlier this season, they'd be home against the Niners … and win by three touchdowns. Alas, they didn't, and they won't.
4. "Tebow Time" ends with a clunker Sunday afternoon in Denver. The Broncos are 0-4, including their last three games, when Jim Nantz and Phil Simms call their games on CBS. With a week to prepare, Dick LeBeau's defense will stop the run and force Tebow to beat them through the air. He won't.
5. "The Myth Of Matt Ryan" continues on right into next year. What's the one thing Mike Smith (as a head coach), Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez have in common (despite nonstop media love)? None of them have ever won a postseason game. They won't win in New York this weekend, either. But, don't worry. Someone will predict them to win the Super Bowl — like people do every year — next August.
6. The Patriots get their revenge for their regular-season loss to the Steelers, beating Pittsburgh in the divisional round in New England. Brady and Belichick win their first playoff games since the David Tyree catch and move on to the AFC Championship Game.
7. Eli Manning gives the Packers another scare, this time in Lambeau Field, but again, comes up short. The difference maker in this one? Randall Cobb, Green Bay's electrifying rookie return man, brings a kick back late in the fourth quarter of yet another Packers-Giants thriller.
8. I saw Josh Charles -- the star of CBS' "The Good Wife" and one of the greatest films in cinema history, "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead" -- walking around Manhattan's 13th street on Monday afternoon. Decked in purple gear, the Maryland native and Ravens die-hard was floating on air. Charles' Ravens will improve their record at home to 9-0 with a shutout of the Texans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs next Sunday afternoon. Baltimore's never played a home playoff game under John Harbaugh. They'll blow out the Texans.
9. The Packers and Patriots ride the momentum of big divisional round wins to beat the 49ers and Ravens in the NFC and AFC Championship Games. In the end, it's the quarterback play, and Alex Smith and Joe Flacco aren't beating Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady on the road.
10. Packers 45, Patriots 42. Madonna sings that underrated "Ray of Light" dance song, we see a lot of ads for that "Whitney" show, Mike Florio makes his Super Bowl debut by wearing a new suit, and Aaron Rodgers wins the MVP for the second straight year.
[ Edited by VDSF on Jan 6, 2012 at 8:39 AM ]