NFL Outlook: Bandit's Blog

New York Giants @ TAMPA BAY

Line: TAMPA BAY favored by 3
O/U:  39.5 points

NYGIANTS        #7 ranked DEF( 8th run, 11th pass)          #16 ranked OFF (4th rush, 21st pass)
TAMPA BAY           #2 ranked DEF( 17th run, 1st pass)          #18 ranked OFF (11th rush, 16th pass)

Where do I begin with this matchup. Hmmm..let's start by saying these 2 teams took different paths in the last two games of the season whereby the Giants played their starters in week 16 to clinch the wild card berth.  Despite attaining the feat, a much needed rest wasn't in the cards as Coughlin had them on the field again in week 17 in hopes of derailing the Patriots' unblemished season.  In contrast, John Gruden has given his key starters sufficient time to rest from the latter half of week 16 on until the end of the regular season.  That will tremendously favor Tampa Bay as Gruden is set on entering playoffs with a completely healthy squad.  They are primed to have success against a Giants team that has to be a little weary not to mention banged up in key spots.  Coughlin's decision to keep his starters playing in the last game will eventually come back to haunt him, as I believe they won't have enough left in their tanks to endure such a physical hard-nosed battle.  With the Bucs coming healthy and rested, they should control the tempo of the game on both ends.  With the league's second ranked defense staring at him on the eye, Eli Manning's probability of success throwing the ball is very marginal.  If they are to sustain long successful drives, Brandon Jacobs would have to be effective on the ground.   If he does not find success scampering early in the game, Coughlin would find his team in trouble.  They cannot resort to Eli's arm to open up the passing game because not only is he facing the number 1 pass defense in the league, but db's like Barber and Kelly are masters of picking off the ball.  Gruden's number one pass D should be up to the task of neutralizing Plaxico and Toomer, leaving it up to their front seven on limiting the resilient Jacobs to minimal gains. 
On Tampa's side of the ball, Garcia's craftiness and experience should come in handy against a Giants D that has consistently created chaos for opposing QB's. This is where Garcia's elusiveness can come into play, as he has the ability to avoid trouble by stepping out of the pocket and sprint downfield for the necessary yards. But having a stout RB in Graham, along with veteran wideouts Galloway and Hilliard at his arsenal..Garcia should be able to utilize his weapons for the most part.   Although they may not be juggernauts, I really like Garcia's competitive quality which he has shown time and again during his tenure in the league.  Leading teams such as Philadelphia and San Francisco to playoff victories, I can't see why he couldn't do it again with Tampa Bay.  I look for this game to be close throughout with no lead bigger than that of a touchdown.  In the late going, I look for Garcia to march his squad towards a game winning FG courtesy of Matt Bryant.  TAMPA BAY      26        NY Giants     24    

Tennessee @ SAN DIEGO

Line: SAN DIEGO favored by 9
O/U:  40 points

Tennessee :     5th rank DEF ( #5 run, #10 pass)        21st rank OFF (5th rush, 27th pass)
San Diego:      14th rank DEF (#16 run, #4 pass)        20th rank OFF ( 7th rush, 26th pass)

I have to congragulate Jeff Fisher for getting his team into the playoffs.  II thought it would take a miracle for get in after their 3 game losing streak in November.  But now comes the tremendous task of challenging the high powered Chargers for a chance to advance to the divisional playoffs. With the status of Vince Young yet to be determined, and the loss of Roydell Williams to an ankle injury does not bode well for the Titans come Sunday.  This is certainly a big dent to their already debilitated pasing game that hasn't been much of a threat for much of the season.  Fisher's "bump and grind" style of offense whereby his dedication of utilizing the running game to dictate his style of tempo has really served him well to say the least.  LenDale White, Chris brown, and Chris Henry provides a lot of depth for Fisher who would love nothing more than a successful game on the ground to whereby he can grind out the clock with a lead.  It's boring but yet effective.  The problem I see in this game is that I believe San Diego will come out firing with a balance attack of LT and the passing fancy of Rivers.  I expect the Chargers to build a comfortable lead, though not insurmountable, early forcing  Fisher to take drastic measures and abandon the time consuming ground attack.  If the Titans find themselves playing from behind, they must rely upon the arm of Vince Young or Kerry Collins.  That's a tall order knowing there are guys like Cromartie and Florence out there to negate any deep threat.  Haynesworth and company are 5th against the run, but that won't stop LT from getting his share of touches towards doing what he does best.  They might be able to contain him at times, but like the energizer bunny, he will just keep coming relentlessly and before you know, he has burned you for a long scamper.  I admire the Titans because they always play hard, honest football and they are a team that will always welcome a challenge.  They played the Chargers well in week 14, but couldn't hold the lead and ended up losing in overtime courtesy of LT.  Botttom Line:  I believe the Chargers are playing better this time around, and they want to make amends for their fans regarding the disappointing end of their playoff run last season at the hands of the Patriots.  They are at home, they have the momentum, and their defense is getting healthy.  Look for LT to have a stellar performance, while reality sets in for Fisher's club.

SAN DIEGO    30        Tennessee      22

Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you enjoyed it as much as you enjoy the playoffs. Please feel free to comment, they are always welcome. Thank you everyone.


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