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Football: The picks just keep on rollin’

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By Mike Cote

Seriously, I don’t even know why I’m bothering.
Picking these games ain’t done me a lick of good so far. Here’s a recap of last week’s picks: the Patriots went AWOL and the Falcons got defeathered.
I went 2-for-4 picking the divisional round playoff games last week. Frankly, picking Pittsburgh over Baltimore was a coin-flip and picking Chicago over Seattle was like picking Larry Holmes over Gerry Cooney, only the most blind-faithed among us would’ve thought the Seattle Cooneys stood a chance.
There are three games left in the NFL playoff season and to break the .500 mark, I have to get two of the last three. Factoring in my “shoo-in” predictions of the Saints over the Seahawks and the Colts over the Jets in the wild-card round, the odds are stacked against me.
But, hey, what do I have to lose at this point? Let’s have at it:

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. Sunday, Channel 2

If one was to go back to last week’s column, and I’m sure most readers have already done that by now, I did have the caveat in there that the Packers were certainly capable of pulling off an upset over the Falcons, who I thought might have been playing over their heads.
I should’ve gone with that instinct. Almost from the get-go, the Falcons had that bags-over-their-heads feel about them when they faced the Packers. Matt Ryan looked timid against the Green Bay defense, despite completing 20 of 29 passes. Those 20 completions were only for 186 yards, not to mention the two completions he had to the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, was magnificent, shredding the Falcon defense for three touchdowns and a crazy 136.8 passer rating.
For Chicago last week, Jay Cutler passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more, a good effort, albeit against a struggling defense.
It was perhaps a little alarming for Chicago, however, that the Bears’ vaunted defense allowed 21 fourth quarter points to the worst offense in the NFL and made some head-scratching decisions throughout — what was that Matt Forte pass all about?
The two teams split a pair of dull-as-dishwater games during the regular season. No help there.
I’m not a big believer in momentum in the playoffs, but that edge definitely goes to Green Bay. Packers 27-24.

AFC Championship

New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Channel 13

You know, it’s hard to assess this game without passion. Quite frankly, I hate the Jets.
Rex Ryan is a gas-bag. Mark Sanchez is an overrated pretty boy. LaDanian Tomlinson is the first to whine when his team is being “disrespected” (ie., the other team beats his team) and the first to start posturing in the endzone on the road.
Would I love the Jets to go down in a flaming pile of wreckage? Absolutely. Will it happen? I’m not so sure.
Any team that can knock off the Patriots at home has done something. The Patriots have been the league’s most successful home team over the past two seasons, but Sunday they simply looked befuddled, that starting early in the game when Tom Brady threw possibly the worst pass of his career that New England was fortunate didn’t end up as a pick-six.
But through their 28-21 upset, the Jets offense still looked ordinary — 314 total yards against a soft defense. Sanchez threw three touchdown passes but didn’t exactly sizzle.
Pittsburgh wasn’t terribly impressive, either, in its victory over Baltimore.
Of course, the Raven defense is among the best in the NFL, and Ben Roethlisberger still finished with three TD tosses and a healthy 101.8 passer rating.
Roethlisberger isn’t Brady, of course, but neither is the Jets defense the Ravens defense.
A bit of a toss-up this one is. There is one big determining factor, however: I hate the Jets. Steelers 20-14.