Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I'm already starting to miss the NFL and
the season isn't even over yet.
Not having a Sunday night game and topping that off with no Monday night game
stings. A lot.
We only have seven games left to play (no, I'm not counting the Pro Bowl) and
then we get to look forward to, well, the NFL Combine. The football withdrawal
is coming and you need to get ready for it.
But before we collectively sulk, let's enjoy what we have left because it's the
Like last week, we'll take a look at what we have coming up this weekend and
take a shot at predicting the outcomes. OK, frequent readers of this column -
that means you Mom and you, too, Dad - remember I was only 2-2 with my picks.
I, on the other hand, have already forgotten about that and am looking forward
to cleaning the slate.
SATURDAY, JAN. 12
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, 4:30 p.m. ET
I didn't think the Ravens would even get this far, but I guess I underestimated
how much emotion with the Ray Lewis retiring thing would bring.
Now, though, that Baltimore is no longer playing in Baltimore, the fans in
Denver aren't going to care too much if Lewis is playing his last game.
The Broncos are the top seed in the AFC and they're heading to the Super Bowl.
This is just the first bump in the road. Their fans will cheer Lewis, but after
the game is over and after their team has secured a win.
The pick: Denver.
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 8 p.m. ET
Like Denver, the winner of this one is going to the Super Bowl.
The Packers looked pretty darn good in beating Minnesota last Saturday, but
that game was in Lambeau and it was brutally cold.
This time, the sun won't be shining for too long because the game doesn't start
until 5 p.m. on the West Coast, but it won't be frigid.
Having the bye week is going to be huge for the Niners and this is going to be
a case of too much Frank Gore for the Packers.
If you're a Packers fan, you also have to worry about that leaky offensive
line and what the Niners could do to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers is great, but a nasty pass rush won't be giving him much time to do
much of anything.
The pick: San Francisco.
SUNDAY, JAN. 13
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET
Let the flip-flopping begin.
Last week, I had Seattle going to Washington and losing to the Redskins.
And for a long while it looked like that was going to happen before a nifty
Seahawks rally turned things around.
And how good is Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson? A third-round pick nearly
everyone panned for being too short, he's the lone rookie QB still standing.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will be watching Russell on television.
And how good is Seattle coach Pete Carroll? Like him or not, and many are in
the "not" category, his team believes in him and he knows how to pick talent.
All of the pressure in this game is on the Falcons because of their playoff
troubles. There is no pressure on Seattle.
The pick: Seattle.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots, 4:30 p.m. ET
This is the end of the road for the Texans.
Boy, how much do they wish the season ended four weeks earlier than it did?
It didn't, and now they have to return to New England and face a Patriots team
that absolutely crushed them, 42-14, on Dec. 10.
That Houston team came in with a swagger at 11-1 and left with a limp.
I don't think Tom Brady and the Pats will hang another 42 on the Texans, but
this one still won't be close.
The pick: New England.
There you have it. A perfect 4-0 weekend. If so, you heard it here first. If
not, well, I'll deny everything you read here.
Of course, we're not picking with point spreads. I don't even want to think
about that disaster.
Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-
area newspapers for over 25 years.
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