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NFL Playoffs: Like Andy Dalton, Still Seeking My First Playoff Win

Playoff action all weekend long.
Playoff action all weekend long.

Well, any chance of pulling out of my season-long tailspin in the post-season appears to be out the window.

In excruciating fashion, the first weekend of the NFL postseason continued to bully me like Richie Incognito, jamming my head in the gambling restroom toilet and swirly-ing me into the poor house. The Colts roared back from being down 28 in the third quarter to hand me a push in their game with the Chiefs, the Saints kicked a last-second field goal to beat the Eagles (who wouldn't have covered anyway), and the 49ers covered by half a point on a last-second field goal against the Packers.

The only game that wasn't a nail-biter was my selection of the Bengals -6 1/2 against the Chargers. That's because Andy Dalton spent the entire third quarter burying his own team under a pile of turnovers. The Chargers went on to win the game straight up by 17 points.

Ironically, Andy Dalton and I have something in common -- we are both winless in the playoffs, Dalton 0-3 in his career and me 0-3-1 ATS this postseason.

Let's see if we can change that this weekend? (I know, no chance, right?)

Saints +8 over SEAHAWKS Heading into the playoffs, I was firmly of the belief that (despite the oddsmakers' making the Chargers a longer shot at winning the Super Bowl) the Saints were by far the longest shot on the board. I mean, a team that's built to win at home (and seemingly only at home) has to go on the road to two outdoor, cold-to-really-cold locations in a row? No chance, I (stupidly) thought. Of course, now both the Saints and the Chargers are playing in the divisional round. (Idiocy, thy name is Sean.) I'm not just taking the Saints because of the token "Hey, they showed they can win on the road" thought process. I mean, they did show that, but here's what they really showed -- an ability to run the ball when they want to run the ball (185 yards on 36 carries). Now, I know this is different; the Eagles (while a majestic bird) are not the Seahawks. Still, running game and defense travel, and the Saints now appear to have both. Enough to beat Seattle? We will see. Enough to stay within eight points? I think so. (The Seahawks pounded the Saints 34-7 back in early December, which makes me even more inclined to take the Saints.)

PATRIOTS -7 over Colts Last season, before the Texans' playoff game against the Patriots, Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe wrote a column that basically called the Texans a bunch of posers and frauds. It was an infuriating piece of literature if you were a Texans fan, made even more infuriating when Shaughnessy turned out to be spot-on in his analysis, with the Pats winning easily 41-28. Well, he's at it again. From yesterday's Globe:

I mean, all they have to do is beat the Indianapolis Colts? Seriously. It's just like two years ago when all the Patriots had to do was beat an 8-8 Tim Tebow-quarterbacked team at home (45-10, thank you). Or just like last year when all they had to do was beat a Houston team (41-28, thanks) on the verge of collapse (2-14 this year).

I don't know what's more insulting -- the Colts getting lumped in with the Texans or the Texans getting lumped in with Tebow! I know what the worst part is...Shaughnessy is going to be right again, and if that's the case, then I may as well sit back and enjoy it.

 

49ers Pick 'em over PANTHERS The story of this game is not Cam Newton's first playoff game. It's not Colin Kaepernick's run to another Super Bowl, or even Ron Rivera's redemption. The story of this game is Ric Flair. Yes, THAT Ric Flair, WWE Hall of Famer. In case you missed it, last weekend, Flair flew to Green Bay to give the San Francisco 49ers a pep talk that helped catapult them to victory over over the Packers...

There's only one problem with this speech, apparently. Flair is a Charlotte resident, a local legend, and frequent attender of Panther games. This is a major issue, especially to Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith , who is a bad guy to have an issue with:

"As a guy who actually has a Ric Flair robe I'm real disappointed in seeing that," Smith told the Charlotte Observer."Real disappointed. I'm not sure if he'll (Flair) get the invite here. That Golden Gate Bridge has been burned."

Okay, being angry at the guy is one thing. Death threats are another thing entirely, and apparently that's happening. From Flair's representatives:

"When the 49ers reached out and WWE asked Ric to jet up there, of course he said yes," says Melinda Morris Zanoni, Flair's agent at Legacy Talent and Entertainment, "and he's friends with a bunch of the 49ers just like he is with the Panthers, Packers, and many other NFL players. But no, Ric does not intend on attending the Panthers vs. 49ers game this weekend." "What can I say? I've always been a very good heel!" added Flair.

"The 49er pep talk, which instantly went viral, caused many Carolina fans to voice their feelings of anger and betrayal on social media -- some even offering death threats to Flair. 'We know fans are passionate about their teams, but some of the choice language we have been receiving is scaring off our interns,' says Melinda Morris Zanoni, Flair's agent at Legacy Talent and Entertainment.

I'm sorry, disrespecting and threatening the Nature Boy is just bad karma, Carolina. I'm sorry. WOOOOOOOOO!!!

Chargers +9 over BRONCOS In the final game of the weekend, the Chargers travel to Denver in the rubber match of their three-game set. (Translation: They split the two regular season games.) To me, this game boils down to three things -- the Chargers are the hotter of the two teams (five wins in a row), they can run the ball to keep Denver's offense off the feel and churn clock (Ryan Mathews over 99 yards in each of the final four regular season games), and they have Philip Rivers's bolo tie!

Chargers 26, Broncos 23!

Last week: 0-3-1 Season record: 41-67-4

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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