By Bill Simmons
Interesting that someone in the media would actually hint towards the obvious media bias.
See his comments after jump.
FALCONS (-2.5) over Packers
Key Player: James Starks has just enough Buster Douglas where-the-hell-did-he-come-from-and-how-did-nobody-know-he-was-THIS-good potential that it has to be mentioned. The 2010 Packers were one of those "If they could only … " teams. If they only had a running back. If they only stopped shooting themselves in the foot. If they only stopped letting opponents hang around Does Starks solve their biggest "If they could only … ?" If he's named the Super Bowl MVP and weighs 340 pounds in two years, don't say you weren't warned.
Possible Playoff Doppelganger: New Orleans 27, Philly 24 (Jan. 13, 2007). A topsy-turvy, semi-sloppy, entertaining game with a balanced dome team prevailing thanks to a few big plays and an extremely loud crowd. Bonus points because the Saints beat Philly by three in the regular season as well (just like Atlanta squeezed by Green Bay in November).
Relevant E-Mail (from Dave in Carmel Valley): "Has Aaron Rodgers reached Ron Burgundy status? 'Aaron Rodgers is good. I mean really good. HEY EVERYONE! COME SEE HOW GOOD AARON RODGERS IS!' I think so, and I'm a Bears fan. That guy scares me." Agreed.
Hero You Might Not Have Expected: Me. I think I'm the only one picking Atlanta this week. Nobody believed in this column except for the guy writing this column! I all I got! (I all I need!) I all I got! (I all I need!)
Possible Tragic Figure: Mike Smith. Did he learn from that Monday night loss to New Orleans in Week 16, when the Falcons played missionary-position football and never tried to actually win the game? In other words, did he treat his Schottenheimer Syndrome? Did the team's doctors get him on the right meds for the playoffs?
Obscure Gambling Tip: You can go against both Boston College quarterbacks this weekend (Matt Ryan and Matt Hasselbeck), parlay the Packers and Bears to win ($100 to win $168), and if it's working, you can pretend you persuaded two former Boston College stars to shave points for you.
"Jersey Shore" Parallel: The Packers are like Ronnie with Sammi -- masterful at digging themselves out of holes, capable of rebounding from any mistake, overvalued and overconfident, and eventually, they're going to run out of luck and get caught.
Theories In Play: "Beware of teams that looked a little too good in Round 1," "Beware of the Obvious Game," and "Don't ignore turnovers and special teams" … and we might be adding "Don't take a Mike McCarthy team in a loud dome" if Green Bay blows this one with dumb penalties, a few untimely turnovers and a special-teams breakdown. That's what I'm banking on. Should we create an "I Can't Believe We're the No. 1 Seed And Nobody Believes In Us" Theory for Atlanta right now, or just wait until after the game?
The Pick: Falcons 26, Packers 20