[Bob on the mic]

Thank you thank you thank you! We couldn’t have done it without you! What in the world am I talking about? Well, after we released a year-transcending picksapalooza earlier this week, we have another DCIAPC this week featuring the NFL Wild Card matchups… meaning WE SET THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD FOR MOST DCIAPC GAMES PICKED IN ONE WEEK. I just got off the phone with Mr. Guinness World Records, and he said we will be featured in the 2018 Guinness Book of World Records, which comes out next month. It’s just humbling to be mentioned in the same book as the eye-popping woman and the guy with the really long dick. [ED Harry: You weren’t supposed to spoil my appearance in the book, Bob!] Perhaps most notable about this record-setting week? We did it all without Harry writing a column. COULD DCIAB BE EXPERIENCING THE EWING THEORY? [Ed Matt: This may be the best paragraph in DCIAB history.]

I know that it’s cruel of us to move on so quickly after a great couple days of the college game to an inferior product, but that’s how life is. College football is like a vacation: so many possibilities, you have no idea what to expect, and no one gets paid. Meanwhile, the NFL is regimented factory labor. So, just a day after the climax of vacation, it’s a return to the factory for everyone. That said, we still very much enjoy our job in the factory, particularly in the high-stakes, win-or-go-home-but-wait-both-teams-go-home-anyway NFL playoffs. Hopefully I can replicate my 7-3-1 form from last year’s playoffs, which gave me a three-game win over my co-writers. I’m going to deliver a hot take and say I don’t do as well this year, and if that comes true, I have psychic abilities.

Onto the games! Remember, you can pick as well, and we will have a brand new set of standings for the NFL edition. I don’t want to use up my jokes or hint at my analysis before I get to my picks, so here are the matchups this weekend (spreads via Pinnacle):

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-5.5), 3:20 CT, ESPN

Bob: The NFL playoffs kick off with the annual matchup between teams that 90% of America assumes are bad, and this year, they just might be correct. You probably think I’m kidding or exaggerating, but it actually is pretty rough: Arizona is 22nd in DVOA, while Carolina is 25th. It feels odd that an 11-win NFC West team has to go on the road to a 7-win NFC South team, much less be a 5.5-point underdog, but that it makes sense is probably even weirder. Arizona has struggled in every game since… ‘nam, while Carolina has looked pretty strong the last four weeks. I have no faith in a Ryan Lindley-led offense, but I also can’t really pick a Carolina squad that hasn’t beaten a playoff team since Detroit in Week 2. I expect a low-scoring game, and I’ll take the points. Arizona +5.5

Matt: These teams suck and I have no idea who to pick. I guess I’ll give the points. Whatever. Panthers by a touchdown. Carolina -5.5

Harry: While it’s my own fault, I feel a little deprived because I didn’t write either column this week, so let’s see how many jokes I can bang out in the space for my picks. Here we go!

Boy, ESPN really got shafted. I know it’s the NFL so the ratings will still be higher than the number of people who Lindsey Lohan has $%#&ed in a questionably locked Denny’s bathroom, but the Worldwide Leader paid all of this money for a playoff game and instead essentially ended up getting “Final Destination 6” because almost everyone subjected to this game live at the stadium is going to kill themselves by the end of it. Nine incredibly attractive people will escape the stadium with their lives intact before being slowly hunted down by Maurice Clarett and Cam Newton’s erratic driving. (Too soon?) Congrats, ESPN! No one feels sorry for you. Arizona +5.5

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3), 7:15 CT, NBC:

Bob: I am so sick of these generally boring teams playing each other on national television three times every year ever since I have closely followed the NFL. DVOA has loved Baltimore all season, as they were very close to having the highest DVOA ever of a non-playoff team. These two teams each won by 20 at home in the regular season matchups. Down the stretch, Baltimore has looked extremely shaky, while Pittsburgh has looked strong. This line is likely this low because as of now, Le’Veon Bell looks to be out or very limited, but I still like Pittsburgh to win at home. Pittsburgh -3

Matt: Pittsburgh is going to throw the ball all over the field against Baltimore’s questionable secondary. I struggle to see how the Ravens can hold the Steelers under 27 points in this one, and I don’t think Joe Flacco will be able to put up that many without an unbelievable performance. Pittsburgh -3

Harry: I think the real question in this game has to be, “Is Joe Flacco elite?” Now, I know that this topic has never been broached before, so you’ll have to laud me for my originality. I’m basically a pioneer, except I didn’t die of dysentery somewhere in the middle of the rocky mountains while attempting to traverse from Massachusetts to Washington in a fucking wooden cart with a sheet on the top of it pulled by two shitty horses that I was only able to purchase by selling my oldest daughter to John Quincy Adams’s eldest son, a noted perverted jackass. Here’s my to the original question: who gives a shit?!?! WHY DOES ANYONE TALK ABOUT WHO IS “ELITE” AND NOT “ELITE”? This is one of the 34,897,228 reasons that I don’t really watch or care about the NFL outside of Aaron Rodgers because seriously how could you not watch Aaron Rodgers? That man is a wizard. And not the overrated basketball team that won one fucking playoff series against a injured/tired/limited Bulls team and sent everyone over the fucking moon. Jesus. Anyway, I definitely like the Steelers as I see Big Ben [tasteless rape joke redacted] with the aforementioned Ravens’ secondary. Pittsburgh -3

[Ed Matt: Ahem.]

[ED Harry: Counting wins in January is something a Wizards fan would do.]

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5), 12:05 CT, CBS:

Bob: Andy Dalton (0-3 in the playoffs) is going on the road against my man Andrew Luck? This is easy… not so fast. Both teams have strong cases for Bill Simmons’ Good Bad Team, used to describe a team that can beat all the bad teams but struggles against anyone good. I should also note that DVOA says these teams are even. In my head, I consider Cincinnati the better team, but then I remember that Indianapolis beat Cincinnati 27-0 earlier this year, limiting the Bengals to just 135 yards of total offense. I am not convinced that performance is repeatable. I think Cincinnati has a great shot at winning, and the spread’s being over a field goal is tough, but here is what makes me like Indianapolis: Cincinnati has spent the last four weeks playing important games against Denver, Pittsburgh twice, and at Cleveland, while Indianapolis has sat at home masturbating and playing video games the last two weeks. Indianapolis -3.5

Matt: I started to trust Cincinnati after their great game against the Broncos, but they promptly followed that up with a stinker against Pittsburgh in prime time. I’ll take the Bob’s favorite jacking off material Andrew Luck and the Colts here. Indianapolis -3.5

Harry: This feels like an even game that goes down to the wire, so I’ll happily take the extra half point that pushes the spread over a field goal. I’m a little too fired up right now, so I’m going to mail  in this pick and not attempt to be funny. Cincinnati +3.5
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys (-7), 3:40 CT, FOX:

Bob: Dallas is good – I would be worried if the Packers were going there – and Detroit is bad. This is the easy pick of the week in my opinion. Dallas -7

Matt: I don’t think Detroit is bad but Dallas seems to be improving every week. It might finally be time to invest a small amount of faith in the Cowboys. Dallas -7 (Apologies for abbreviated picks this week, but I’m burned out from the college DCIAPC. I’ll be better next week.) [ED Harry: BURNED OUT? “Oh look at me, I’m Matt and I wrote one &%$#ing column the entire year for DCIAPC and I’m so burned out. In fairness to me, I was really busy neglecting my duties at The Champaign Room, where I have written two solo posts since November 21 (!!!!).” Go to hell Matt, which for you is probably standard life except you’re only allowed to spend a couple hours a day on Twitter instead of 13.]

[Ed Matt: Here are Harry’s recent contributions to Canes Warning.]

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Harry: A key indicator that a team is not very good but snuck into the playoffs anyway is if it has an absurdly good record in one-score games, the outcomes of which are largely based on luck. (If you would like a college example, see 2012 Notre Dame or this year’s Florida State outfit. Those two went a combined 25-0 in the regular season by repeated razor-thin margins and then lost by a combined score of 101-34 against Alabama and Oregon, respectively, in championship or playoff games.) The Lions played a bunch of one-scores games this year and finished 316-1 in them (all numbers approximate). That is what you call a “harbinger of vicissitude” if you’re pompous asshole or a “bad sign” if you’re a normal human being. Dallas -7