Welcome back NFL fans! It’s time for our weekly power poll and pick’em. Each week I eliminate a team from Super Bowl contention and then rank the rest based on their chances of winning the Super Bowl. Follow my picks and predictions each week online at WhatsUpShopper.com See if you can win $50 in NFL pick’em each week by entering on the website, by email or by Fax 704-435-2845. To be in the Top 12 you need to qualified for the playoffs.

ELIMINATED THIS WEEK

Chargers (9-7) Phillip Rivers and Tony Romo are probably in the same boat as far as how we look at quarterbacks. Both rank very high in all-time stats but both also never won or made it to a Super Bowl. Why? Defense wins championships.

Lions (9-7) Detroit is Detroit and yes they pulled a Lions two weeks ago losing to the Bengals with the playoffs on the line and now have fired the head coach.

Cowboys (9-7)  Well Cowboys fans who fell in love with Dak Prescott and kicked Romo out the door... How bout them Cowboys? Huh? You mean the savior didn’t play well when he didn’t have Zeke rush for 100 yards? You mean he couldn’t complete a pass more than 15 yards down field? You mean you didn’t make the playoffs? Oh, yeah, that’s right. It’s because you all fell in love with the girl next door without realizing your wife was dressed and ready to go to the party. So you started the rookie versus Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs and got beat, then missed the playoffs. Yes, Dallas fans who stabbed Romo in the back, you deserve this.  Just a ridiculous waste of a season after wasting of the playoffs last season. Keep it up Jerry, before long you’ll be the only one left standing in Dallas.

Ravens (9-7) Good grief Baltimore, how do you choke like that?  Calling you dogs would be an insult to dogs. In consecutive weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals have knocked Detroit and Baltimore both out of the playoffs. Yeah, that’s the definition of not deserving to be there.

IN THE PLAYOFFS FOR NOW

12. Bills (9-7) Buffalo hasn’t been to the playoffs since the Music City Miracle. They travel to Jacksonville to start the playoffs versus their former coach who left them for the Jaguars job. Buffalo ranks 22nd in offense and 18th on defense giving them an average of 20th. There’s only 12 teams that make the playoffs!  Needing a Bengals win to make the playoffs and with those rankings, this trip isn’t going to last very long.

11. Titans (9-7) Tennessee ranks at 19th on offense and 17th on defense for an average of 18th. With a twelve team playoff that’s also not going to get it done. The only saving grace for the Titans and Bills is that the Chiefs and Jaguars are not exactly the pillars of consistency.

10. Panthers (11-5)  The Panthers finished the season ranked 12th in offense and 11th in defense and a scoring margin of 2.3 points per game. While having a record of 7-1 in games decided by 7 points or less. That means the defense is playing well and the offense is taking care of the ball. It also means they went 4-4 in all other games. If they would have just went 5-3 in those close games, they might not have made the playoffs. With only a 2.3 scoring margin and 7-1 in close games, it really means they’ve been winning a lot of games they maybe shouldn’t have but alas they’re here. Kuechley’s defense has not been Top 10 since steroid Charles Johnson got suspended.

They have to hold New Orleans under 30 to have a chance to win. They really need to hold them under 20. I don’t think they can unless they control the clock. New Orleans don’t mind running the ball at all either. Carolina’s chance to win this game depends on their ability to win the time of possession and turnover battles. Well, I guess that’s every game they play.


9. Jaguars (10-6) The Jags ranked 2nd on defense and 5th on offense this season, giving them an average of 3.5!  That’s really good. In fact, it may the be best in the NFL. But can a team led by Blake Bortles make a Super Bowl run? I don’t think so. Next season we could have Alex Smith, Eli Manning or Tyrod Taylor running this squad. The rest of the AFC can’t wait for Big Ben and Terrific Tom to finally decide to retire and let someone else have a shot at winning a title.

YOU’RE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE

8.  Falcons (10-6) The defending NFC champs are the only team in the NFC that made the playoffs this season and last. On average, six teams usually miss the playoffs every year after making it the season before. This season we have eight new teams in the playoffs with the Falcons, Chiefs, Steelers and Patriots returning to the dance. Atlanta is 15th in offense and 8th in defense with an average of 11.5. The problem is that the NFC is much tougher than the AFC and they travel across the country to LA for round one.

7. Chiefs (10-6) They rank 6th on offense and 15th on defense with an average of 10.5. The Chiefs lost 4 straight games to the Cowboys, Giants, Bills and Jets. Not the studs of the NFL are they? They beat New England and Philadelphia the first two weeks of the season, then went 8-6 versus mediocre competition. Can they win it? Yes if everything breaks their way but realistically? Probably not.
6. Saints (11-5) Good grief what were the Saints defensive backs doing against the Bucs on Sunday? The Achilles heel of this Saints team is the secondary. The Saints are 4th in offense and 10th in defense with an average of 7th. They may have the most balanced offense attack in the NFL and Drew Brees previously won a Super Bowl with a 20th ranked defense, one of only 5 quarterbacks in NFL history to win the championship without a Top 12 defense.

5. Rams (11-5) The Rams took Week 17 off and the Saints couldn’t capitalize giving the Rams the 3-seed. LA ranks 1st in offense and 12th in defense with a 6.5 average and a 9.3 scoring differential. The Rams beat the Saints at home already but the only other playoff team they beat this season was the Jaguars. So how good are they? Good enough to make a Super Bowl run I think with Carson Wentz out in Philly. As always though in football, it’s going to depend on the matchups.

13-3 AND GOT THE FIRST ROUND BYE

4. Eagles (13-3) The Iggles are 3rd in offense and 4th in defense with an average of 3.5 and a scoring differential of 10.2 per game. They would be the favorite for the Super Bowl if it weren’t for the injury to Carson Wentz. Now? A third-stringer in Minnesota has the best chance to lead his team to a championship in the NFC.

3. Vikings (13-3) The Vikes are 1st in defense and 10th in offense with an average of 5.5 and a scoring differential of 7.5. They play and win by defense and the turnover battle. Wanna beat them? Win the turnovers and force Keenum to make plays. No NFL team has ever made the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Minny has the road, but can Keenum drive the bus to the end?

2. Steelers (13-3) The Steel Curtain ranks 7th on defense with an 8th ranked offense. They have 7.5 average ranking and a 6.1 scoring differential. Will their fate simply come down to having to go to Foxborough instead of playing at home? This could also be Big Ben’s last ride.

1. Patriots (13-3) They just do what they do baby. They have the 2nd ranked offense and 5th ranked defense with an average ranking of 3.5. They also have a scoring differential of 10.1 and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Yes they’re the favorties to make the Super Bowl but not win it right now. Remember, in Brady’s 5 Super Bowl wins, last season’s overtime 6-point win was his biggest blowout in the championship game. The Patriots should make the Super Bowl and they should play a close game.  Let’s do this!

NFL PICK’EM IS NOW OVER!
LAST TWO WEEK WINNERS

12/23 Jack Wright 13 points
12/31 Deborah Reynolds 15 points

 NFL Pick'em & Power Poll

BY @KEVINHASTINGS

NFL

PLAYOFF

PICKS

AFC WILD CARD ROUND
#6 Bills 14 @ #3 Jaguars 27
#5 Titans 21 @ #4 Chiefs 27

NFC WILD CARD ROUND
#6 Falcons 21 @ #3 Rams 28
#5 Panthers 21 @ #4 Saints 27


AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND

#3 Jaguars 21 @ #2 Steelers 24
#4 Chiefs 21 @ #1 Patriots 28


NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
#4 Saints 24 @ #1 Eagles 23
#3 Rams 23 @ #2 Vikings 20


CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
#4 Saints 31 @ #3 Rams 28
#2 Steelers 21 @ #1 Patriots 27


SUPER BOWL
Saints 34-31 vs Patriots