Don't be confused, the NFL officially calls this round of playoffs the divisional round, which makes no sense to me. I call it what it is, the conference semifinals because Winners from each game this weekend will play in their respective conference championship games next Sunday @ 15:00 (AFC) and 18:30 (NFC).
I was roaming around the web this week, as I often do, and found this amusing piece from columnist Norman Chad
. He may hate the Patriots, and you might too, but don't even tell me that there aren't 26 other NFL cities (with the notable exceptions of Indianapolis, Dallas or Green Bay) that would love to have such a dominant team as their hometown NFL franchise. That's why I hated the 49ers of the 1980's and the Cowboys of the 1990's so much, because they won the majority of their games and got to the playoffs every year (and won Super Bowls) while the Patriots mostly were horrible or incredibly average.
And if you like football related statistics, as I do, you'll like this
from the Indianapolis Star.
Anyway, I digress.
I did put in a good showing last weekend, picking 75% SU (3-1-0) and 50% ATS (2-2-0; which could have been 75% ATS if the Jags had gone for the late touchdown instead of settling for the winning field goal). Let's see how well I do for this weekend's games:
Saturday, January 12th
@ 16:30 FOX - Seattle Seahawks (11-6) at Green Bay Packers (13-3) (-7½, 42½ o/u):
The main storyline in this game is Green Bay QB Brett Favre opposing his friend and old coach, Seattle's Mike Holmgren. Both have considered retirement over the last few years. Will either or both call it quits after this season? The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL based on average age and have very little playoff experience. Favre is enjoying one of his best seasons for the Packers. Not many people outside of the local fandom expected a 13-3 season. Seattle had much more playoff experience, getting to and losing the Superbowl two seasons ago. With a healthy group of Wide Receivers, including former Superbowl MVP Deion Branch, this game will come down to the Packers secondary stopping one of the most underrated group of receivers in the league. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the game ended on an overtime interception return for a touchdown by Green Bay. I expect a close game in this one too, possibly to be decided in overtime. My Prediction: Green Bay 27, Seattle 24. Actual Result: @ Green Bay 42, Seattle 20.
What happened Seattle? After a phenomenal start, capitalizing on two Green Bay turnovers to take a 14-0 lead barely four minutes into the game, Seattle's offense went into deep freeze, getting outscored 42-6. What can you say about Brett Favre? Snow or not, simply one of the best QB's in NFL history. If Dallas wins tomorrow, Green Bay will play in Dallas. If New York wins tomorrow, they will travel to Green Bay.
Saturday, January 12th
@ 20:00 CBS - Jacksonville Jaguars (12-5) at New England Patriots (16-0) (-13, 49 o/u):
The Jaguars have been anointed the team du-jour to upset the Patriots quest for perfection and have as good a chance as any with their star running back duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Experts are touting the Patriots giving up huge games to Steelers and Ravens RB's near the end of the season as a sign of a weakened and old defense. While it is true that the Patriots Linebackers are old by NFL standards, they have the experience factor on their side and arguably the best front three on the defensive line in football in Wilfork, Seymour and Warren to clog the middle of the field. But the main question is, how do you slow down the Patriots passing game? With temperatures expected to be in the mid 30's by game time with no precipitation and little wind in the forecast Patriots QB Tom Brady will not be hindered with his trio of WR's Randy Moss, Donte' Stallworth and Wes Welker. Add in an effective but not often utilized RB in Laurence Maroney and all purpose RB Kevin Faulk, the Jaguars secondary will be tested severely. Sorry Jags, this is not your night. My Prediction: Patriots 35, Jacksonville 14. Actual Result: @ New England 31, Jacksonville 20:
26 for 28, 262 yards, 3 Touchdowns, no Interceptions. Patriots QB Tom Brady broke Phil Simms playoff record of 88% completion percentage, completing 92.6% of his passes to 8 different receivers. WR Randy Moss only had one catch for 14 yards. RB Laurence Maroney had a huge game rushing for 122 yards and had 2 catches for 40 yards. Jacksonville played a great game despite only producing 66 yards combined for RB's Taylor and Jones-Drew. Their defense just could not contan the Patriots, who punted once in the whole game (with 40 seconds left). The winner of tomorrow's Chargers-Colts game will visit the Razor next Sunday at 15:00.
Sunday, January 13th
@ 13:00 CBS San Diego Chargers (12-5) at Indianapolis Colts (13-3) (-8½, 46 o/u):
I think this is the most intriguing game of the weekend. Colts QB Peyton Manning threw 6 INT's and Mr. Clutch K Adam Vinatieri missed a chip shot game winning field goal in a mid season loss at San Diego. San Diego has also beaten the Colts in Indy too, most recently in 2005 when the Colts were shooting for a 14-0 record. I've got no worries about the Colts offense which is always excellent in the playoffs under coach Tony Dungy. This game will be in the hands of Chargers QB Philip Rivers. The Colts will attempt to minimalize the effects of RB LaDanian Tomlinson and force Rivers to beat them with his arm, throwing to WR's Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson and RB Tomlinson out of the backfield. A big loss for San Diego is TE Antonio Gates, who hurt his toe last week against Pittsburgh and likely won't play. These are two excellent teams, but the Colts win indoors. My Prediction: Indianapolis 33, San Diego 23. ACTUAL RESULT: San Diego 28, @ Indianapolis 24:
Turnovers taste real good. I like either raspberry or blueberry. Oops, wrong kind of turnovers. The playoff kind are bad. Especially when you throw two interceptions to halt scoring drives and fumble once to stop another. This is what derailed the Colts today, negating a 400 yard passing day by Colts QB Peyton Manning. Give San Diego credit. TE Antionio Gates played with a sprained/broken bigh toe and lost RB LaDanian Tomlinson and QB Philip Rivers due to injury. Backup QB Billy Volek and RB Michael Turner came in and carried the load. San Diego plays at New England next Sunday.
Sunday, January 13th
@ 16:30 FOX New York Giants (11-6) at Dallas Cowboys (13-3) (-7½, 47 o/u):
This is the Terrell Owens bowl. When he plays, the Cowboys have a much more fearsome offense than they do with out him. Dallas QB Tony Romo still had TE Jason Witten to throw to and an underrated pair of running backs in Marion Barber and Julius Jones. The Giants are brimming with confidence with QB Eli Manning played well in two losses to Dallas and is playing the best he's played all season in the last two games. The Giants defense led the league in QB sacks this season. The Giants look to avenge their only road loss of the season, Week 1 in Dallas. These fellow NFC East rivals know each other well and it will come down to turnovers and controlling the clock in this one. It's hard to beat a divisional opponent three times in one season. I'd love to see the 'boys win, but they won't. My Prediction: Giants 27, Cowboys 20. ACTUAL RESULT: New York Giants 21, @ Dallas 17:
I don't know how the Giants won this game, but they did. They were outgained in yards by 106 and held the ball for 13 less minutes. They did not turn the ball over and Eli Manning managed the game brilliantly. The key drive for the Giants was at the end of the 2nd quarter when they scored a touchdown with less than a minute left after Dallas held the ball for over ten minutes prior. This allowed the game to go into the half tied instead of the Giants being down by 7. The Giants will travel to Green Bay next Sunday @ 18:30.
Labels: football, NFL, playoffs