By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
A lot of sports pundits, including ESPN’s Max Kellerman, thought the NFL season would never reach this point. The doomsayers opined about how COVID-19 would prevent the league from having a full season. Yet, here we are. Every single NFL regular-season game was played, and now it’s on to the postseason. That in itself is a big win for the league and football fans everywhere.
NOTE: After going .500 or better for the first 16 weeks of the regular season, I laid an egg in Week 17, going 2-4. That made my total season “Pick6” record 67-35 (.657). Not horrible, not great. But now it’s the playoffs, and we’ve got the six games that really matter. Let’s take a look:
♦ INDIANAPOLIS @ BUFFALO: The Bills have overachieved this season, largely due to the stellar play of QB Josh Allen. There is even talk of him being a viable MVP candidate. The Colts have proven to be a good team, but they won’t be able to stop the Bills, who’ve won six straight. Pick: BILLS
♦ L.A.RAMS @ SEATTLE: Will Rams QB Jared Goff suit up against the favored Seahawks? Will it matter? Seattle is riding a wave of momentum thanks to a suddenly improved defense. Impeccable timing. Pick: SEAHAWKS
♦ TAMPA BAY @ WASHINGTON: Sure, the WFT could surprise the Bucs. But at 7-9, they are no match for Tom Brady and company, who have won four straight and seem to be peaking at the perfect time. This one might not be close: Pick: BUCCANEERS
♦ BALTIMORE @ TENNESSEE: Flash vs the Incredible Hulk. Baltimore features the speedy Lamar Jackson, who last week became the first NFL QB to have multiple seasons of 1,000+-yards rushing. The Titans, of course, are powered by RB Derrick Henry, who rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 TDs in the regular season. The Ravens have one of the league’s top defenses, but… Pick: TITANS
♦ CHICAGO @ NEW ORLEANS: On paper, this looks like a mismatch. But don’t underestimate the Bears, who have benefited from the improved play of QB Mitchell Trubisky. The Saints, meanwhile, have been consistently good all season long, with and without QB Drew Brees. Pick: SAINTS
♦ CLEVELAND @ PITTSBURGH: Excitement for Browns’ first playoffs appearance in 17 years has been tempered by the realities of the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 concerns have prevented the team from practicing for Sunday’s big game. A lot of people will be rooting for Cleveland, but Pittsburgh is at home and is built for the postseason. Pick: STEELERS
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