January 11, 2008

January football is meant to be played in the cold. If it was meant to be played any other way, the football gods would have given us domes and artificial turf long before they were created by defiant mad scientists in the 1960's. That's why I'm pleased temperatures in both New England and Green Bay are likely to be below freezing this weekend (except in Josh Brown's pants.)

None of this is meant to belittle the crucial games in Dallas and Indianapolis, but warm weather playoff games are like an Olympics on foreign soil -- they just don't feel as important. Perhaps it's because there are fewer lifeless businessmen wining and dining potential clients in 25 degree weather, perhaps it's because the only way fans can deal with low temperatures is by pumping their bodies full of alcohol. Whatever the reason, cold-weather playoff games encapsulate entire stadiums in a fervent do-or-die atmosphere that's unmatched -- even the Super Bowl doesn't compare. On Saturday we get two of those games. I recommend watching them.

By the way, in case you didn't read about it in the papers, I was 4-0 last week. Is a perfect 11-0 postseason on the horizon? Certainly not if I keep jinxing myself by touting my record. And now let's move onto this week's picks.

Seattle at Green Bay (-9): It's been four long years since Matt Hasselbeck last led the Seahawks into Lambeau Field for a playoff game. That meeting went into overtime, at which point Hasselbeck took the coin-toss victory as an opportunity to proclaim "We want the ball and we're going to score!" He then proceeded to throw an interception that was returned for a game-ending touchdown. All in all, it was a prognostication less accurate than Kyle Boller throwing a deflated football. Nevertheless, this week look for Hasselbeck to once again attempt to fire his team up at the coin toss -- this time by yelling "We want to defend the South endzone and we're going to get a stop!!!" Pick: Green Bay

Jacksonville at New England (-13.5): Everything went swimmingly for the Patriots in the regular season. The team went undefeated, Tom Brady broke Peyton Manning's single-season touchdown mark, and Randy Moss set a record with 23 touchdowns catches (although if offensive pass interference was still a penalty like it was it past years, it's likely that Moss would have caught only 14 or 15). Now the Patriots enter the postseason and their aerial assault must take on the Jaguars' overpowering ground attack. It's kind of like the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, only this time the air attack is the one that represents true evil. Pick: Jacksonville

San Diego at Indianapolis (-9): The health of a few key players is going to play a big role on Sunday. My sources even tell me Norv Turner tried to hire John McClane to break into the RCA Dome and steal Marvin Harrison's medical records, but the plan fell apart when Turner learned that McClane was just a fictional character played by Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies. Meanwhile, over in the Chargers training room Antonio Gates hopes that a severely sprained toe won't keep him from playing. Gates had been making good progress, but on Wednesday he aggravated the injury while playing "This Little Piggy" with his niece. Pick: Indianapolis

New York Giants at Dallas (-7.5): The Cowboys have had a long time to prepare for this game, which is why the Giants hired three interns to distract Jason Garrett by constantly calling him with phony head coaching offers. One thing the Giants aren't too concerned about is the play of a confident Eli Manning. On Wednesday the Giants quarterback sported a new t-shirt that read "Eli Rules, the entire Barber family drools." Pick: Dallas

Last Week: 4-0Regular Season: 120-121-10

Got something to say to Eric? E-mail him at extramustardnflpicks@gmail.com

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