The Serby Crystal Ball foresaw a Saints-Chargers Super Bowl last summer, and nothing has changed as the playoffs begin Saturday.
The crystal ball’s occasional glitch had the Jets and Giants each winning nine games when it later flashed “NINE WINS TOTAL,” but no excuses here.
Colts at Texans: A battle pitting Comeback Player of the Year candidates Andrew Luck and J.J. Watt. The visitors have won 10 of their last 11, and Luck has shredded the Texans this season (863 yards passing, 6 TDs, 1 INT in two games). As has T.Y. Hilton (13-314). Indy phenom defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and rookie linebacker Darius Leonard survive Big Game Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.
Colts 30, Texans 27
Seahawks at Cowboys: Earl Thomas intercepted Russell Wilson twice in the Seahawks’ 24-13 win over the ‘Boys in front of the 12th Man in September. Thomas won’t be playing in this one. Amari Cooper wasn’t a Cowboy then. He is now. Ezekiel Elliott is a better bet than Chris Carson.
Cowboys 27, Seahawks 20
Chargers at Ravens: Wink Martindale’s defense won’t suffocate Philip Rivers (4 sacks, 2 INTs) this time, and Lamar Jackson won’t be able to play catchup in his playoff debut.
Chargers 23, Ravens 20
Eagles at Bears: Defending Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is dangerous in the playoffs, but Mitch Trubisky doesn’t get careless and lets Khalil Mack and the rest of the Monsters of the Midway light a fire inside Soldier Field. No Philly Special on this night.
Bears 28, Eagles 21
Colts at Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes’ first playoff game won’t be too big for him. The Chiefs are 0-4 in the postseason against the Colts and blew a 38-10 lead in a nightmare 45-44 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium five years ago. Andy Reid hasn’t forgotten, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce will go off.
Chiefs 34, Colts 24
Bears at Rams: Jared Goff was intercepted four times the last time he faced the Bears. That was on the road, in the cold. Todd Gurley won’t be limited to an 11-28 rushing night, and Sean McVay won’t be outcoached by Bears DC Vic Fangio.
Rams 27, Bears 17
Chargers at Patriots: Nobody believes the Chargers can win at Gillette Stadium except the Chargers. Rookie safety Derwin James blankets what’s left of Rob Gronkowski, and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram harass Tom Brady. And Rivers is on a mission. And even if I would never bet against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at home in the playoffs, I defer to the crystal ball.
Chargers 31, Patriots 24
Cowboys at Saints: Dak Prescott and Elliott try to mimic the Super Bowl XXV Giants game plan against the Jim Kelly-Thurman Thomas Bills by controlling the clock. But Drew Brees doesn’t get impatient, and Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli is forced to pick his poison between Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, and Dak can’t play catchup with Marshon Lattimore containing Cooper. Jerry Jones is reminded why he loves Sean Payton so much.
Saints 30, Cowboys 20
Chargers at Chiefs: The visitors snapped their nine-game losing streak against the Chiefs last month, when Rivers led a furious fourth-quarter comeback at Arrowhead Stadium and head coach Anthony Lynn went for the win with a two-point conversion with four seconds left. And Rivers didn’t have Melvin Gordon and lost Keenan Allen in the first half.
Chargers 35, Chiefs 32
Rams at Saints: It was 45-35 for the Saints on Nov. 4 off Bourbon Street, and this time Cooper Kupp won’t be playing. Brees and Payton go back to the Super Bowl.
Saints 34, Rams 24
Super Bowl LIII
Chargers-Saints: What a storyline: Rivers versus Brees. Rivers sat behind Brees for the first two years of his career and learned how a driven professional goes about his business, and the two have remained close. Of course it’s a shootout, Payton tries a successful second-half onside kick, and Rivers, 10 yards from his first Super Bowl title, is intercepted in the end zone by Eli Apple. (Possible crystal ball glitch.) And Brees and Payton capture their second Lombardi Trophy together.
Saints 41, Chargers 33