The only thing that can turn Super Wild Card Weekend into Super Duper Duper Wildcard Weekend isn’t an eighth team with an under .500 record getting stomped by the 1-seed. It’s the return of the greatest animal sporting handicap column – this one.
Torrey the Prediction Cat went a sterling 59-21 overall, 28-18 in teaser plays last year. (That’s the way we do things here: we find just two-four plays that look solid as teaser bets, then move the line six points in our favor.)
Animals have been making the picks, beginning with an Iguana named Ernesto, and continuing through a long, unbroken line of cats, all of whom have batted a solid 59-60% over the 14 seasons the column has run on this website.
This year we are only doing the playoffs. Torrey the Prediction Cat has been too involved in getting me ready for ski season coverage, but he can’t let the playoffs go by without chiming in, so here we go, HOME TEAM IN CAPS:
BILLS -1/2 vs. colts
SEAHAWKS +1 vs. rams
The Bills get the short end of the stick this year with a seventh team making the playoffs. That means only 1-seeded KC gets a bye…and the desperately needed rest. As this new playoff wrinkle goes forward, watch 1-seeds start to dominate. Still, the Bills are firing on all cylinders right now. Josh Allen is putting up video game numbers and Bills football games have become track meets. Add in cold, rain, and snow and Philip Rivers may be playing his last professional game Saturday.
Even if the Rams get Jared Goff back at QB, they still travel poorly, flounder in cold weather, and have injuries. Meanwhile Seattle’s defense needs to avoid stupid penalties and clamp down so the offense can turn up the heat and run away from the Rams. Play 60 minutes, Seattle, not 58.
BET THE BLACK
SAINTS -3.5 vs. bears
STEELERS-browns OVER 40.5
Here’s two teams with records that look great, but bely a weak team underneath. Both beat up on the weak NFC East, and both dominated their opponents in the AFC South as well, but that’s not saying much. Pittsburgh has no running game and needs one player each on offense, defense, and special teams. (A wide receiver, a lockdown corner, and a punt returner, Ray Ray McCloud – who I call Ray Ray McLousy – fumbles too often). And one of these games someone is gonna break off a TD runback against on Pittsburgh on a kick.
But it won’t be the Browns. They’re 11-5 is more illusory than Pitt’s 12-4. Sacks and picks are coming. Pittsburgh’s defense feasts, but not enough to keep the Browns below 21. Meanwhile, Drew Brees, comma…and that’s all she wrote for Da Bears.