By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- These days, everybody loves the Buffalo Bills. How could you not?!
It's a historic franchise, located in a no-frills locale where people love their sports. They obviously love their Bills, and their Sabres, and their Bison, and their Bulls. They also always rank among the most tuned-in TV markets whenever the Stanley Cup rolls around.
They also love throwing each other through tables, eating garbage, wearing disgusting pants, and generally enjoying themselves. What's not to like?
And what do these people get as a reward for this dedication? Nothing but a whole lot of heartache. From Wide Right, to Brett Hull's toe in the crease, to four straight Super Bowl losses, to the Music City Miracle, to two decades of serving as a punching bag to Bill Belichick, Buffalo sports fans have been through a lot.
That's probably why so many football fans throughout America -- and even plenty here in New England -- have been downright happy for the die-hards in Buffalo who, quite frankly, deserve to have something nice.
I'd count myself as one of those people, too. I'm not a monster, you know? Some people clearly deserve a positive break. When it comes to sports success, I'd count Bills fans among the most worthy. (I say that despite several instances of Buffalo football fans being quite mean to me over the years when all I have ever said was that their bad team was bad when the team was, in fact, bad. But I can let bygones be bygones. Wow that is very big of me!)
Now, with that being said, above all else, what drives me through this crazy world on a day-to-day and minute-to-minute basis is a desperate need for entertainment and humor. And so, it must be said that with just four teams still alive in the playoffs, the perverse need of this football-loving nation is quite simple.
We need the Bills to make the Super Bowl.
And we need them to lose to Tom Brady.
I know, I know, I know. All of those nice things you said. The fine folks of Buffalo deserve nice things. I know, I know.
It's just that there are certain things you know are wrong, you know aren't fair, but you know are funnnnnnny. And having the Bills get back to the Super Bowl -- after going 25 years without a playoff win, in the first season that Brady left the division -- only to have him vaporize their souls in the sport's grandest stage?
Oh. Oh, sweet baby.
That would be so funny.
You wouldn't be able to hold in your chuckles.
Unless, of course, you're from Buffalo. Then you'd probably have a difficult time laughing.
In any event, there is "what would be funny to happen," and then there is "what's actually going to happen." They don't often align.
So let's make some picks.
(Home team in CAPS; Thursday lines)
GREEN BAY (-3.5) over Tampa Bay
The heart wants what the heart wants, but sometimes the brain has to get involved. And the Packers are too good.
I'm fully aware that the Bucs beat the bag out of the Packers back in Week 6, that Brady was deadly efficient, that Ronald Jones ran wild, that Aaron Rodgers had by far the worst game of his MVP season, and that the game was over at halftime.
I also don't think it matters one bit.
Outside of showing that the Bucs can win when the Packers play terribly, it really won't have much bearing come Sunday afternoon in Wisconsin.
Rodgers is just flowing right now. In his last seven games, he has 21 touchdowns and one interception. He's run for three touchdowns, too. His connection with Davante Adams exists on a plane of existence most of us never experience. Defensively, Green Bay has held opponents to 18.4 points per game since Thanksgiving, and we simply cannot ignore the weather. It's supposed to be 28 degrees and snowy on Sunday. Maybe Brady can tap into his 20 years of experience there, but some of his teammates are in for a difficult awakening at Lambeau.
I'll fully admit that I'm a sucker for the story, so I hope the Bucs win. I just have no logical reason to think it'll happen.
OFFICIAL FINAL SCORE PREDICTION THAT CANNOT POSSIBLY BE WRONG
Packers 31, Buccaneers 21
Rodgers in just the second Super Bowl of his career will surely be welcome news to the league. A Rodgers-Mahomes matchup might even be good for television ratings. You never know.
Will it happen? Well ...
Buffalo (+3) over KANSAS CITY
Goodness gracious. This psychopath is picking the Bills to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
What. An. Idiot.
That may be true. (It also might have nothing to do with my football picks.) But there's just something about the Buffalo Bills that's hard to ignore.
They held the seventh-ranked Baltimore scoring offense to just three points last week. It was obviously the lowest output for Baltimore all year, and the Ravens were only held in the teens twice all season long. Three points. Crazy.
Offensively, they've averaged 35 points per game since early November. Josh Allen's made so many of us look like fools. (In our defense, the man couldn't hit a wide-open 5-yard out route if his life depended on it during years one and two. What's happened since then has been nothing short of astonishing.)
With Buffalo ... there's something going on there.
With Kansas City ... OK, this might sound dumb, but I've been waiting for something special to click so that the defending champs could once again look like world beaters. I've been waiting quite some time. It hasn't happened yet.
Obviously they've been good enough to win 15 of their 17 games. Duh. It just hasn't been emphatic. If that makes sense. (Look, I told you it might sound dumb.)
They beat Cleveland -- Cleveland! -- by five points last week. Yeah, losing Patrick Mahomes for a spell, that didn't help. But they were only up by nine points when Mahomes got hurt. A team with that kind of firepower, at home, against CLEVELAND, should be better than that.
And that's kind of been the story of the Chiefs for a while this year. A three-point win over the Falcons -- the Falcons! -- in Week 16. A three-point win in New Orleans. Beating the Dolphins by five. The Broncos by six. The Bucs by a field goal. The Raiders by four. Carolina by two.
They've been good enough to win, but not much better. Eventually, an opportunistic, ferociously hungry football team is going to come along and make them pay for it.
And -- I can't believe I'm doing this -- I'm picking the Bills to do just that.
OFFICIAL FINAL SCORE PREDICTION THAT CANNOT POSSIBLY BE WRONG
Bills 27, Chiefs 24
Oh wow. That doesn't feel good. Not at all.
Last week: 3-1
Regular season: 126-126-4
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