Checked back to September to see I correctly predicted nine of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs.

So it reasons that I should be weighing in with my playoff picks.

Anybody can say afterwards they knew a team would win. I will be able to prove my claims.

Or I will look like a complete idiot if I go winless.

Pretty sure that won’t happen with this weekend’s four games. You can count on that.

Then again, consider this: Back in September, I was fairly confident the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets and San Diego Chargers would be part of the playoff field.

How lame is it that all three of those teams are sitting home while Tim Tebow is playing in the postseason? The only thing sadder would be missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and deciding that Norv Turner is still the best man to guide your football team.

Oh wait, we can’t discuss Dean Spanos being clueless here. This is the place to talk about the teams that do win football games.

Here are the picks for this weekend’s four NFL playoff games:

BENGALS (9-7) AT TEXANS (10-6)

Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in 21 years and went 0-7 this season against teams in the playoffs. The Bengals start a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton and went just 3-5 in the second half of the campaign. One of the losses was at home to the Texans.

Houston lost its final three games after defeating the Bengals and hasn’t scored more than 22 points in any of its last six games. The Texans also feature a rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart both suffered season-ending injuries.

This game could go either way and the Texans’ fans will be rabid for the city’s first home playoff games since the Oilers called the city home. But my gut tells me there will be a lot of unhappy folks in Houston on Saturday.

PREDICTION: Cincinnati 24, Houston 20


LIONS (10-6) AT SAINTS (13-3)

Detroit was winless just three short years ago so being in the postseason for the first time since 1999 ranks as a huge accomplishment for the franchise. The future is bright with a superb pitch-and-catch duo in quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is a beast when he’s not busy stomping on prone offensive linemen.

New Orleans is vying for a return to the Super Bowl, which it won two seasons ago. The Saints have won eight straight games and haven’t lost at home this season. Quarterback Drew Brees had a historic season with a record 5,476 passing yards and multipurpose Darren Sproles has raised the offense’s production to a new level. New Orleans also has a lot to prove after last season’s embarrassing early exit against a Seattle Seahawks’ squad that went 7-9 in the regular season.

Teams like the Lions often find that initial visit to the postseason to be a bit rough. I see no chance of Detroit pulling off the upset on Saturday – not in the Louisiana Superdome and not against a team as powerful as the Saints.

PREDICTION: New Orleans 45, Detroit 26


FALCONS (10-6) AT GIANTS (9-7)

Atlanta is certainly due to win a postseason game since it has gone seven years without winning one. The Falcons were the top-seeded team in the NFC last season before being steamrolled by the Green Bay Packers. Quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner both have bad poor games in two previous playoff contests for Atlanta. Figuring out whether the Falcons are ready to break through on Sunday isn’t easy.

New York looked like a goner when it lost four straight games but had incredible luck that its final four games included two contests with the always-underachieving Dallas Cowboys and one against the NFL’s most disappointing team in the New York Jets. The late 3-1 stretch got the Giants the NFC East crown and quarterback Eli Manning is more dangerous now that young receiver Victor Cruz has emerged.

The Falcons definitely have more talent than the Giants but are hard to develop faith in, especially leaving their warm Georgia Dome for the cold elements of New Jersey. Seems to me that all the Giants need to do is keep the game close and Manning (a record 15 fourth-quarter touchdowns this season) will find a way to keep the Falcons winless in the postseason under coach Mike Smith.

PREDICTION: Giants 27, Falcons 21



Pittsburgh has the top-ranked defense in the NFL by allowing just 14.2 points and 271.8 yards per game. Worse for Denver is that the Steelers have allowed just three touchdowns in their last six games. That makes for a nice comfort zone with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gimpy and Rashard Mendenhall out after a season-ending knee injury. Pittsburgh is playoff-tested and has played in two of the past three Super Bowls under top-notch coach Mike Tomlin.

Denver enters with a three-game losing streak and scored just three points in last week’s key contest against Kansas City. The Tim Tebow magic apparently was a short-term potion and hasn’t been located since Dec. 11. The Broncos will stick to the formula of trying to be in the game in the fourth quarter and hope for the best.

Gimmicks only work so long in the NFL and the holes in Tebow’s game are being exposed. If Tebow does have a direct line to somebody in the heavens, this is the week to use it. Otherwise, “Tebowing” is a phenomenon that can be set aside for the rest of the playoffs.

PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 24, Denver 6


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