It came down to the final game of the season — Detroit vs. Green Bay — but the Packers’ win allowed me to eke out a narrow one-game victory over defending champion Rick Anderson in the annual Daily World Grid Picks contest.
I’m not sure how I managed that, but I did get rather hot in the final four weeks of the contest.
My preseason proclamation to always pick against my “beloved” 49ers until they fired General Manager Trent Baalke, which actually occurred two days before their final game against the Seahawks, had little to do with it. I went 13-2 picking against the Niners (We didn’t pick most Thursday night games.) Anderson and Burns also posted the same record when it came to 49er games. Sports writer Brendan Carl — a rabid Hawks fan — went 12-3 in 49er picks.
But, had the Baalke news been leaked prior to me making my picks last Friday afternoon, I would have ridiculously picked the Niners as a stupid symbolic gesture, and it would have cost me this contest.
Instead, I won and now have the honor of doing more work — writing this column predicting the eventual NFL champion. I was only obligated to write about the Super Bowl, but felt this handling was more apropos since the Seattle Seahawks are potentially — and I stress “potentially — involved in every round, and there tends to be a lot of interest in them around these parts.
So without further rambling, I offer you my bold predictions.
Wild Card Weekend
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans (1:35 p.m., ESPN) — No Derek Carr at QB for the Raiders. That’s a shame. “Just Win, Baby” — NOT! Texans 24, Raiders 16.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks (5:15 p.m., NBC) — Ironically, had Detroit beaten Green Bay on the final weekend, not only would I not be writing this piece, but I would have picked the Packers to beat the Seahawks. But that’s all moot. Instead, I think Detroit — normally cloistered from the elements in their home dome — will have issues with our recent chilly Northwest weather. Still, Seattle could struggle a bit, as has been its pattern. Seahawks 23 (Hauschka misses another extra point), Lions 16.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers (10 a.m., CBS) — Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Enough said. Steelers 35, Dolphins 13.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (1:40 p.m., Fox) — Best game of the weekend. Gotta go with Aaron Rodgers at home. Packers 27, Giants 26.
Saturday, Jan. 14
Seattle at Atlanta — Sorry Seahawk fans, this is where a weak offensive line and no Earl Thomas (and especially no Marshawn Lynch) comes back to haunt you. This is what happens with success in the salary cap era. Seattle is paying 10 guys the lion’s share of the payroll. That kills a team’s depth. And, I have a feeling that Matt Ryan may lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl this year. Falcons 31, Seahawks 20.
Houston at New England — Tom Brady is “on a mission from God” — or make that Goodell — and Brock Osweiler is Houston’s starting QB. Patriots 42, Texans 6.
Sunday, Jan. 15
Pittsburgh at Kansas City — I like Alex Smith. Wish the 49ers had kept him. With that in mind, Chiefs 24, Steelers 23.
Green Bay at Dallas — Hmmm. I think Dallas is ripe for a playoff upset. But not just yet. Cowboys 31, Packers 28.
Sunday, Jan. 22
Atlanta at Dallas — Remember what I said about Matt Ryan. Remember what I said about the Cowboys. I predict that Ryan and WR Julio Jones go off in this game, while Dallas rookie QB Dak Prescott struggles. Falcons 35, Cowboys 20.
Kansas City at New England — I don’t like Alex Smith enough to bet against Brady, who has a point to prove this year. Patriots 42, Chiefs 20.
Super Bowl 51
Sunday, Feb. 5
Atlanta vs. New England — Remember what I said about Matt Ryan. Fuggetaboutit! And sorry, Seahawk fans, but it’s Tom Brady’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Patriots 42, Falcons 28.