The moment of temptation passed quickly.
Pick the Carolina Panthers to win the Super Bowl in print, and I can’t lose.
If they win, I look like a genius.
If they don’t win, I still collect on a wager with my friend Mike in which I have the entire NFL postseason field except for Carolina. Every team.
The Pabst Blue Ribbon was talking big at 20 North last weekend.
But, nope . . . can’t pick the Panthers.
The winner will come from the rest of the field, and the Super Bowl participants will be one team who is expected and another who isn’t.
With echos of the Ravens’ run to the championship last year, this certainly seems like another year in which something weird is going to happen, with a few teams that seem like no-brainer picks in the field of 12, but on the other hand aren’t 100 percent trustworthy.
My wild-card picks are all favorites, three at home and one on the road, but I’ll argue against an accusation of being a chalk-eating weasel insofar as the line on three of the games is a mere 21⁄2 points.
The gripe that some teams like San Francisco have with the seeding system is reasonable, having to bring their 12-4 record to Ice Station Zebra in Wisconsin to play the 8-7-1 division champ Green Bay Packers.
You have a nice season like that, producing one of the best records in the NFL, and not only do you not get a bye, but you have to go on the road.
The Associated Press story in Friday’s Gazette does a good job of outlining the advantage home teams have, but I agree with the quote from New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief when he said, “ . . . fair is irrelevant. The real world isn’t fair.”
Please keep the divisions, NFL.
As a Dolphins fan, I like playing the Patriots and Jets twice a year because I hate them, and I like playing the Bills twice a year because . . . well, the Bills (yeah, yeah, I was watching two weeks ago).
So San Francisco can complain all they want, but won’t be doing so after they beat the Packers on Sunday.
The Niners are one of the hot teams at the right time of year, and — the return of Aaron Rodgers notwithstanding — they’ll be able to do some things against the Green Bay defense.
The other NFC winner this week will be the Eagles over the Saints in Philadelphia, setting up divisional playoff matchups between Seattle-San Francisco and Carolina-Philadelphia.
The Eagles’ offense is hitting its stride and will be playing a comfortable indoor cat suddenly let loose in a city alley in the dead of winter. New Orleans, 0-5 all-time in road playoff games, was 8-0 at the Superdome and 3-5 on the road during the regular season.
In the AFC this weekend, I’ve got Indianapolis winning at home against Kansas City and Cincinnati winning at home over San Diego.
The Chiefs are 11-5, but no playoff team’s record looks as fraudulent as the Chiefs’.
After starting 9-0, they clunked their way down the stretch by winning just two of seven, and the two wins were against lousy teams — the Redskins and Raiders.
Kansas City lost to the Chargers twice during the final stretch and scored seven points in a loss to Indianapolis, at Arrowhead, no less.
So the call here in the AFC divisional playoff matchups is for Denver to host Indianapolis and New England to host the Bengals.
Peyton Manning and the rested Broncos win, and here come the Bengals to knock off not only New England, which has been on shaky ground all season, but also the Broncos in the AFC Championship game to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since 1989.
I like the Bengals’ mix of offense and defense, which ranked third in the NFL in yards allowed.
Something a little bit against the grain will happen in the playoffs, and Cincinnati reaching the Super Bowl will be it, although, again, it shouldn’t be a surprise if a variety of teams make it. The playoff field looks that even.
In the NFC, the fun runs out for Philadelphia at Carolina, which has put together a very consistent record with no apparent lulls, and Seattle will knock off San Francisco, then the Panthers, as the Seahawks take full advantage of the homefield edge they earned by going 13-3.
Playing at MetLife Stadium on the first weekend in February will be a whole different animal, but Seattle has everything you need to win the Super Bowl.
I love Russell Wilson at quarterback, and the defense gave up the fourth fewest passing yards in the NFL this season.
Stay tuned for updates next week when all of this gets blown off the fence like a PBR tallboy can at a shooting range.