It's nice when a plan comes together. And my plan to carry over a hot streak from the wild-card round (3-1) worked pretty nicely in the divisional round (another 3-1) effort. Bonus points for nailing how Packers-Cowboys would play out exactly, right?
Of course, the entire CBS Sports crew is white hot in the playoffs. Jared Dubin is undefeated against the spread and no one is under .500.
But the hottest predictor? My preseason "Madden" simulation, which somehow had the freaking Falcons winning the Super Bowl. It's still two victories from happening, and it was a laughable projection at the beginning of the season. Now it's quite realistic, and the game hit on two of four final teams in the playoffs.
There was no Tom Brady and the Patriots nor Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. But that's actually because the Falcons beat the Packers and the Steelers beat the Patriots in the wild-card round. Instead it was the Jaguars and Saints. Whoops. But, hey, a Falcons-Steelers Super Bowl, that's a thing that could still happen.
Anyway, Sunday's games are absolutely exceptional. Let's make those picks.
Sunday, Jan. 22
No. 4 Green Bay (10-6) at No. 2 Atlanta (11-5)
TV: 3:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: Falcons -5
This game features a historically high over/under at 60, a line that jumped quickly after opening at 59.5. Not only is it the highest point total for a conference championship game or Super Bowl, it's the highest opening total for any playoff game (a 2012 Lions-Saints game opened at 59.5 points). You can't blame Vegas for coming up with a massive total either.
When these teams played on Oct. 30, the Falcons beat the Packer 33-32 on a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds left. It's not hard to imagine an even higher-octane game this time.
Also in that Week 8 game, Rodgers was not at the height of his powers. The Packers' offense was moving, but not clicking. They fell to 4-3 before losing three more games and then proceeded to "run the table."
The downside for the Packers: Jordy Nelson might not play and Davante Adams won't practice until the weekend. Rodgers is so hot he can make the offense work with anyone at this point -- hello, Jared Cook -- but they're going to need to score at least 30 points to keep up.
Atlanta led the league in scoring, firing out 33.8 points per game, the only team averaging more than 30. They were even better down the stretch and Ryan showed no signs of cooling off in a 36-20 divisional-round win over the Seahawks. Even with Julio Jones banged up, the Falcons have too many weapons.
Ryan has thrown touchdown passes to 13 different receivers this season and used eight receivers against Seattle's mighty defense. The Falcons' offense doesn't get the attention it deserves, and it's hard to imagine the Packers stopping them. Green Bay might keep up, but the Falcons also can salt the game away with a devastating running attack featuring Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
The Pick: Falcons 38, Packers 31
Sunday, Jan. 22
No. 3 Pittsburgh (11-5) at No. 1 New England (14-2)
TV: 6:40 p.m. ET (CBS)
Line: Patriots -5.5
You are looking live at ... the Steelers locker room! The only thing dumber than Antonio Brown's Facebook live video becoming a story ahead of the Steelers-Patriots game is Antonio Brown going live from the locker room when Mike Tomlin was yelling about the Patriots.
It's the ultimate modern-day distraction, a silly thing that makes people forget this is a matchup of two ridiculously hot teams. The Steelers have won nine in a row, two straight in the playoffs. And while everyone focuses on an offense featuring Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Brown, the defense has given up less than 17 points per game during the streak.
The red flag for Pittsburgh is scoring only 18 points vs. the Chiefs on six Chris Boswell field goals, as the Steelers went 0 for 4 in the red zone. Failing to convert in the red zone won't work against the Patriots.
And the Pats' red flag? They "only" scored 34 points in an 18-point victory over the Texans. Brady was not sharp by his usual standards (18 of 38, 287 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) -- only the second time he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in a playoff game -- and they still cruised.
Big Ben is a little bit better than Brock Osweiler, obviously, but for the Steelers to win their defense must slow down Brady. And the thinking here is they will because their young pass rushers are starting to come of age and their secondary is better than advertised, so it's entirely possible.
The Pick: Steelers 24, Patriots 21