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NFL Conference Championship Picks/Open Thread

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SEAHAWKS (-8) over Packers You know about these teams. The real question here is Rodgers’s health. If his calf isn’t a major issue, 8 points is too much to give up to the most valuable player in the sport, and his near-flawless second half against the Cowboys would suggest that it isn’t. But his first half makes clear that he’s not going to be near full mobility, and the Seattle defense is much better positioned to exploit this than Dallas’s was. This will probably be close most of the way, but I think Seattle will eventually pull away.

PATRIOTS (-6 1/2) over Colts. I don’t mean to be stubborn, but this is a much easier call. I know Indianapolis has looked good the last two weeks. But the first game was against a below-average QB missing his only two decent weapons (and, yes, yes, picking against the Colts there was as stupid as a pick against the spread can be, an excellent illustration of why contrarianism is dumb and “hmm, should I be picking 4 favorites?” logic is even dumber.) And even Andy Dalton would probably have given Denver a better shot that the “Peyton Manning” who showed up last week. This week, they’re going up against a healthy icon. The (past-peak but still excellent) icon has only one great weapon, but 1)the weapon is great and it’s not clear how the Colts can deal with him if he stays on the field, and 2)the bunch of OK additional options should allow McDaniels to game plan around Vontae Davis easily (and Davis is apparently well less than 100% anyway.) Admittedly, Luck will do some damage — if the Broncos couldn’t get any pass rush it’s not clear how New England will. And they won’t benefit from the inevitable 2-yards-a-carry-plus-fumble from Trent “so nice he was worth a first rounder twice!” Richardson. But the Pats are better offensively and defensively, playing at home. I think they’re headed to Arizona without a great deal of difficulty.

…I greatly appreciate the valiant efforts of Seahawks MVP Mike McCarthy to keep them in the game, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough. Apparently my worries last year about Seattle’s third-rate receiving corps weren’t so much wrong as premature.

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