Jason Friedman’s NFL Picks: Looking for the Lambeau Laxative, Not Expecting Lightning to Strike Twice

I’m bitter.

Instead of anxiously anticipating yet another uber-compelling Colts-Patriots grudge match this weekend, I’m stuck with Chargers-Pats instead. Nothing against San Diego, but that match-up sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, the Bolts earned their shot at New England. They overcame a rowdy crowd, devastating injuries, and a slew of ridiculous calls from the officiating crew to knock off the heavily favored Colts. But while it’s a nice story, it also makes for a terrible game this weekend. There’s just no way the beat-up Chargers will be able to compete with the New England juggernaut.

I know, I know. Nobody—myself included—gave San Diego a chance last week, either. But it’s one thing to go into the RCA Dome to take down a Colts team with a history of choking; still another to travel to Foxborough with designs on upsetting the undefeated Pats. Mark my words, lightning will not strike twice. The Patriots may very well prove beatable, but it won’t be San Diego who turns the trick.

There’s only one team out there which remains capable of shocking the world: The Green Bay Packers. They possess an underrated defense which is younger, faster, and—more importantly—better than New England’s. Their offense features a balanced attack capable of keeping Tom Brady off the field for long periods of time. And of course, there’s the Brett Favre factor, meaning most of America will happily align itself with the Cheeseheads in hoping for a storybook ending which includes a Super Bowl title and a victory over the cheating Pats. I’m not saying Green Bay would definitely beat New England, but I am saying they—and no one else—have a shot.

So if you actually care about watching competitive football on Super Bowl Sunday, please, for the love of God, do whatever you can to make sure the Patriots and Packers win this weekend. Send out good vibes, say your prayers, pay off the refs, remind Norv Turner and Eli Manning who they are, whatever. I’m sure with enough collective will power, we can make it happen. And I’ll go ahead and apologize in advance to fans of the Giants and Chargers. Sorry, folks, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices for the common good.

Otherwise, we could be staring at the biggest Super Bowl letdown since 1999. As you may recall, that January the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings and 14-2 Denver Broncos were on a collision course for a top shelf title tussle. Unfortunately, the Vikes didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, blowing a late ten-point lead—at home no less—to an over-achieving team from Atlanta. The end result: A thoroughly predictable and wholly unsatisfying Broncos romp in the big game. If it weren’t for Eugene Robinson’s sexcapade with a prostitute the night before the game—and the day he received the Bart Starr Award for his "high moral character"—the entire event would have been a giant waste of everyone’s time. So please, for the sake of everyone involved, let’s not go down that road again.

On to the Championship Weekend picks (home team in caps):

NEW ENGLAND (-14) over San Diego

You don’t need me to break this game down for you. This game is such a mismatch, a Chargers win would have to go down as one of the biggest playoff upsets of all time—in any sport. So, yeah, I’ll be taking the Pats, thanks.

One warning for you gamblers out there, though: I it’s been nearly two months since I’ve correctly called a Pats or Giants game against the spread. So it only goes to figure that both would be playing on Championship weekend. Proceed with caution.

Patriots 31 – Chargers 13

GREEN BAY (-7 ½) over New York Giants

The Giants are a complete enigma. This is a team which was -10 on the year in turnover differential, committing a turnover in each and every game during the regular season. So guess what happens come playoff time? They go on the road (where they’re now inexplicably 9-1) and put up a pair of zeroes in the turnover department, of course.

So that leaves us to draw only one of two possible conclusions: A.) The Giants are a team of destiny. B.) The Giants are long overdue for a clunker, and sooner rather than later, their turnover constipation will be relieved by a healthy dose of Green Bay’s Lambeau laxative.

Since I’ve been dissing the Giants all year, I think you know where I’m headed.

Packers 27 – Giants 17

Last week against the spread: 1-3 (129-124-11 in ’07) Last week straight up: 2-2 (155-109 in ’07)

- Jason Friedman