If you listen to The Daily Blender or follow me on Twitter, it’s fairly apparent that the #CohenCurse moniker when it comes to my picks is a real phenomenon. While it was a dreadful year picking NFL games, I had an excellent Week 17 and was heading into the playoffs with plenty of momentum.
Unfortunately, like my NHL Playoff Picks last year (0-8 in the first round), I completely bombed last week. Zero and four. My Super Bowl champion, New Orleans, out. Sorry Saints, Eagles, Bills, and Patriots fans…apparently I jinxed your teams with my terrible predictions. I’d like to tell you that I’ll do better in the Divisional Round…but it seems hard to believe at this point. Play these picks at your own risk…
Divisional Playoff Picks
Playoffs: 0-4 SU, 0-3-1 ATS, 2-2 O/U
Regular Season: 157-98-1 SU, 128-128 ATS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 27, Minnesota Vikings 22 (ATS: Vikings +7, Over 45)
Might the Vikings be a team of destiny after last week’s stunner in the Superdome? Are they the team I predicted last year to finally bring Minnesota its first NFL championship? While I wouldn’t be completely shocked at a Vikings win on Saturday, I expect the 49ers defense to pressure Kirk Cousins early and often, force two interceptions, and do just enough to hold on late for a closer than expected victory. The NFC Championship Game will be in Santa Clara next Sunday.
BALTIMORE RAVENS 31, Tennessee Titans 24 (ATS: Titans +9, Over 47)
Call me crazy…but this pick seems a little too easy to be true, a la the Saints last week. The Titans are on fire with a dynamic rushing attack and Ryan Tannehill has been playing at a Pro Bowl-caliber level since he took over for Marcus Mariota in early-October. I expect Tennessee to slow the game down and try to control the clock…but the Ravens offense is too potent led by the soon-to-be MVP Lamar Jackson. In a game where the Titans dominate the time of possession, I just don’t see their defense making enough plays to get the win. Baltimore moves on to the first AFC Championship Game since the 2012 season.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 30, Houston Texans 16 (ATS: Chiefs -9.5, Under 51)
Houston won this matchup in Arrowhead earlier in the season when the Chiefs were not clicking whatsoever defensively. The Texans ran through them for nearly 200 yards and made Patrick Mahomes look pedestrian for the majority of the contest. Three months later, the Chiefs have revenge on their minds in what will be their final home game of the 2019-20 season. Look for a big game from Chiefs RB Damien Williams, who don’t forget scored 3 TDs in last year’s AFC Championship Game. I don’t believe in Bill O’Brien’s teams in the playoffs, and despite erasing a 16-0 lead in the 2nd half vs. Buffalo last week, I don’t expect lightning to strike twice.
Seattle Seahawks 23, GREEN BAY PACKERS 20 (ATS: Seahawks +4, Under 46)
I’ve gone back and forth again and again on this game…and I truly don’t have a feel for it. How can I pick against my favorite team and my favorite player (Aaron Rodgers) at home in January? The answer: because Russell Wilson is that good. His team may be banged up but Wilson truly put up MVP-caliber numbers this season and I have a hard time thinking that the Packers’ very good defense can even slow him down. No intentional #CohenCurse pick on this one…unfortunately it’s what I believe will happen. Seattle wins on a Jason Myers field goal as time expires to break the hearts of all Packers fans and myself.
Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game, to me, is one of the most anticipated in recent memory. Both teams are undefeated, as was the case last year, and we’re likely looking at the next two NFL #1 overall draft picks, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence going head-to-head. LSU is playing a virtual home game after running through a gauntlet of a schedule including Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma among others. Clemson, on the other hand, has played virtually no one of note and found itself lucky to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal. But they’re still the defending national champions who haven’t lost a game since January 1st, 2018.
So what will happen in college football’s ultimate game? The weekly guest pickers are back for the final pick of the season:
EC: LSU has won three national championships in its storied history and all have come with the final game in New Orleans. While I believe Dabo Swinney is the best big game coach in America to this point, there’s just something about LSU that makes it seem like a team of destiny. Joe Burrow has played at a level this season which ranks among the greatest individual runs in college football history – including the 400 yard, 7 TD first half performance in the semifinal vs. Oklahoma. While I admire Clemson’s heart and desire to come back from a 16 point deficit against Ohio State, I just didn’t come away all that impressed in person with this team’s talent. It’s almost as if the Buckeyes imploded rather than the Tigers won the game. In what should be a thriller, Burrow leads LSU on a 4th quarter drive to take the lead and his defense denies Trevor Lawrence on a late drive to preserve the title for Ed Orgeron’s team.
JB: The defending champions have the drive, will and heart to win the first back to back titles in college football since Bama in 2011-2012. That said, something about this season for LSU, combined with the fact that the game is being played in the Superdome – where LSU won all three of its national championships – gives the SEC Tigers the edge. I thought Ohio State outplayed Clemson by a fairly large margin in the Fiesta Bowl but killed themselves with penalties and drops in the red zone. LSU has at least as good of an offense as the Buckeyes, and while it doesn’t match up on defense, the D holds on just enough to bring the title back to the Bayou for the first time since the 2007 season.
SM: LSU has had a magical season and will be hyped up being so close to home, too hyped actually. Joe Burrow and company make a few mistakes early which Clemson converts into points due to their experience in the title games. LSU comes back later and takes the lead in the 4th but Trevor Lawrence shows why he is the most talented QB in recent history and drives for a winning score near the end of regulation.
WF: LSU has the record and the unprecedented whooping of Oklahoma. They have the Heisman winner and a juggernaut running back who’s gotten to rest up a lot more than anticipated heading into the CFP. Clemson is no cupcake, but I can’t figure any other scenario where they win. I’ve never liked the competition they have in the ACC, but they’ve got the crystal trophies to prove they’re no Notre Dame. Geaux Tigers!!! Also, it’s the only thing I can understand when Ed Orgeron talks.