What do you do every year the 49ers don’t make the playoffs?
You watch the playoffs anyway. You predict which teams will win each weekend. And you root for yourself to be right. It’s a fun game.
Last weekend, I picked the Colts, Cowboys, Eagles and Ravens to win their playoff games and each team won except the Ravens. Which means I predicted 75 percent of the games correctly. Made my weekend. Let’s see if I can do better.
Here are my picks for the divisional round:
Saturday, 1:35 p.m.: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, a young quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) who threw 50 touchdown passes this season and may win the MVP award, plus an extra week to prepare than the Colts. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has a career record of 20-4 after a bye week, including playoff games.
But,Reid’s post-bye-week record since joining the Chiefs in 2013 is merely 4-3. And the Chiefs had a first-round playoff bye two years ago, and still lost at home the following week to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Reid’s playoff record with the Chiefs is just 1-4.
Historically, he loses big games. This season, the Chiefs were 2-4 against playoff teams.
The Colts aren’t just a playoff team — they’re the hottest team in the league. They have won 10 of their past 11 games, and they have Andrew Luck, who may be the best quarterback in the AFC. He finally seems confident in his throwing shoulder after missing all of 2017 with a posterior labrum tear.
The Colts also have a defense that has allowed just 15.5 points per game since Week 7, and a rushing attack that has averaged a whopping 129 rushing yards per game during that time. They’re a complete team.
The Chiefs are not complete. Their defense has given up 26.3 points per game (ninth worst in the NFL), because it struggles defending the run. It has given up five yards per carry, second worst in the NFL.
The Colts will run the ball at will on Saturday — they may have the league’s best offensive line. And they have a running back, Marlon Mack, who runs over defenders like a Mack truck.
And they have a head coach, Frank Reich, who has won big games in the NFL as a head coach, an offensive coordinator and a quarterback.
I pick the Colts.
Saturday, 5:15 p.m.: Dallas Cowboys at LA Rams.
Only one team has a worse run defense than the Chiefs, and that’s the Rams. They have given up 5.1 yards per carry this season. On Saturday, they will face Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who led the league in rushing this season. He will play well.
But the rest of the Cowboys’ offense may not. The Cowboys have scored just 17.4 points per game on the road this season and their road record is 3-5. Meanwhile, the Rams have scored have 37.1 points per game at LA Memorial Coliseum and their home record is 7-1.
The Cowboys simply may not have enough offense to win.
Cowboys third-year quarterback Dak Prescott plays well in Dallas, but on the road this season he has thrown eight touchdown passes, five interceptions, and his quarterback rating is just 85.6. Nothing special.