Important note about today: It features a game the 15-1 Panthers might lose, and I will be rooting hard for that outcome.
Several years ago now, because I'm an amiable guy and I get along very well with the folks over at Canal Street Chronicles, I did root for the Saints to make a deep playoff run. By the time I decided I was done with that noise, it was the Super Bowl, which the Saints of course won. The ensuing seven years of little brother comments have taught me a very important lesson: You never root for your rival.
And it's easy to root against this Panthers team, frankly. I'm tired of being told I must love Cam Newton, as though appreciating a guy's talent isn't enough. I'm tired of Jonathan Stewart rolling over the Falcons. I'm tired of seeing this team play well with a makeshift offensive line, one functioning wide receiver, and holes in the secondary that you should be able to drive a truck through. I am tired of hearing about this Panthers team, and today I will be a massive Seahawks fan in the hopes that we won't have to hear about Carolina any longer. Good riddance.
Oh, there's also an AFC game, but who cares?
Panthers (-1.5) vs. Seahawks
Broncos (-7) vs. Steelers
I'm picking the Seahawks to win, and it is not entirely wishful thinking on my part. Carolina has had a number of close calls this year and lost to the Falcons in Week 16, and all the holes we identified before the season have been admirably papered over but have not gone away. The Seahawks are talented, well-coached, and have actually fared better on the road this year than at home. I've got them pulling out a slugfest, 23-20.
The Steelers are too injured to beat this Broncos team, in my humble opinion, unless Peyton Manning is godawful. I've got Denver by a score of 30-17.