Well, FanNation, I'm back after a nice long trip to see my family. And sadly, of the wild-card weekend, the only game I got to see was Redskins-Seahawks. My brother recorded the Jags-Steelers game so we could watch it together, but when we actually had a chance to, he said "I don't like to watch big things in the afternoon." Not sure what that means, but I didn't press the issue. After all, if he didn't have quirks, I'd wonder if he was in fact related to the rest of us. So we didn't end up watching it.
But I can offer some in-depth thoughts on the Seattle-Washington game, and how it relates to this week's divisional game. For the other games I'll be going by game recaps and what I've heard people saying, which is usually a recipe for me being wrong.
During the game, coming up on halftime, when the Skins couldn't get a damn thing going, I screamed at the TV, "Enough with the long passing! You don't have time! Short passes, g****mnit, SHORT PASSES! And for God's sake, keep the ball away from Trufant!" It took most of the third quarter before they finally started listening to me, and they were able to move the ball. That was when they scored their 14 points. Then they stopped and went back to the long crap, and all the crucial pass plays were sent towards Trufant (who, by the way, I have no further questions about; this man deserves the Pro Bowl absolutely). That was when the ‘Hawks sealed the game.
I bring this up because the Packers' successful season has been built around a short passing game. And it will work. Between the style of play, the Seahawks' ineptitude on the road, the Packers' skill at home, and the simple fact that Green Bay has a better team, the choice is so obvious that I don't even think the game will be close. Seahawks 17, Packers 34. Game MVP: Brett Favre - 30 for 44 passing, 321 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
The Jaguars struggled, and my man Garrard didn't look so good except for The Scramble. However, you have to like the way the seeding worked out; Jacksonville-New England will be a great game. Hopefully the Pittsburgh game worked out some of the playoff jitters, and what better team to warm you up for the Patriots than the Steelers?
However, a few weeks ago when I was thinking about the Patriots and what team might have the best chance to beat them, I came to the conclusion that the Steelers were the best bet. Why? Well, I looked at the teams that had given New England a scare: Philadelphia and Baltimore. There was a time, five months ago, when those were my Super Bowl picks... ugh. But that's part of my point - both of those teams are talented, stocked with impressive rosters of accomplished players, who were massively underachieving at the time of the game. So then I thought, what team is like that among playoff teams? The Giants are one (and they proceeded to give the Patriots their third scare of the season in week 17), and the Steelers were another. The Jaguars definitely aren't. The theory here is that the Pats might let their guard down against a team who hasn't been playing well, taking a victory for granted, and all it would take was a little momentum to get those former Pro Bowlers and Super Bowlers to play like they used to, and they'd be able to hold on for a victory. But against a scary good team, the Pats will bring their A game every time. The Jags are scary good, and thus Brady won't let his team lose to them. Jaguars 27, Patriots 33. Game MVP: Tom Brady - 28 for 33 passing (a perfect 15 for 15 in the second half), 290 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
There are two people in the league who are such amazing run defenders that they can neutralize LaDainian Tomlinson almost single-handedly. (* I say almost, because a team can focus all their attention on blocking said person, and then someone else gets the tackle because they're not blocked. It's a technicality.) One is Albert Haynesworth, whom Tomlinson faced last week. The other is Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders, who Tomlinson faces this week. Haynesworth held LT to 2.0 YPC last week.
The Chargers won a big prime-time game against the Colts on Nov. 11. Here are all the reasons it won't happen again. 1) That was in San Diego, this is in Indy. 2) Manning threw 6 picks, and Vinatieri missed a clutch field goal then. They won't again. 3) The Colts were just getting used to life without Harrison then. Now Gonzalez has stepped up, and Manning has adjusted. 4) Despite everything, the Chargers only won by 2, as the Colts' defense (which is phenomenal this year) kept the San Diego stars in check. Expect a lot of field goals by Nate Kaeding as the Colts give some yardage, but don't allow the big play. Chargers 19, Colts 35. Game MVP: Peyton Manning - 24 for 32 passing, 260 yds, 4 TDs, 0 INTs.
Could I be headed for a fourth straight great game by one of the league's top four quarterbacks on one of the league's top four teams, giving us an upset-free playoffs thus far and the conference championship matchups we've been anticipating all season? After all, the only game left is Giants-Cowboys, and Dan's been predicting against the Giants all season long. He's made it clear that he respects Tony Romo, Marion Barber, and Wade Phillips, and has no love for Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, and Tom Coughlin, even though he hates the Cowboys more on principle.
Nope. Giants win in an upset.
Here's why: First, I love picking upsets, it's part of my charm (and my bad record as a prognosticator). So there's no way I'd go through a round of the playoffs without picking a single upset. And I couldn't pick the Jags, no matter how much I like them. I couldn't pick against the Colts. I couldn't pick the ‘Hawks on the road. So by default, I have to pick the Giants.
Okay, that's a lousy reason. How's this? They have a tight end named Boss. He's this huge guy, 6'6", 253, and his jersey says:
That's so bad-a** that even Chuck Norris is impressed. And where Chuck Norris is impressed, Mike Huckabee is impressed. And Jesus loves Mike Huckabee, so he'll make the Giants win.
Still not convinced? Okay, for realz this time. The Cowboys played like sh- the last four weeks of the season. The Giants played inspired football against the best team in the league, then shut down the Bucs. The Giants haven't lost on the road since week 1 (which was, of course, against Dallas), when they were still finding their 2007 identity. Wade Phillips and Tony Romo have yet to win a playoff game. As of last week, Eli Manning has, and Coughlin had won a few before in his stint with the Jaguars. I have no doubt that Terrell Owens will play; at the very least he'll be on the active roster and come in as soon as it looks like the Cowboys will lose without him. Steve Spagnuolo's defense forces Romo into a couple of mistakes, the offense springs a few big plays, and the Giants come away winners. Giants 30, Cowboys 23. Game MVP: Corey Webster - 3 PDs, INT, TD, 4 tackles.
If you want a different take, don't go to Josh's blog. It's pretty much the same take, with a few different spins. But it's a good read anyway, and the comments are always fun.