A 3-1 wild-card round has me feeling confident as we head into a solid Week 2 in the NFL Playoffs. Whether you are for or against the Patriots, their pursuit of perfect is must see TV, and a third matchup of the season between the Cowboys and Giants might be the best game of the weekend. Fun, fun, fun. Let's break it down, and as always, feel free to give your thoughts as well....
SATURDAY GAMES -
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers -- We all know my deep, heart-felt feelings about Brett Favre. That said, he has had a great season and is a major reason the Pack is back in the NFC. The bigger reason is a solid defense that has been rebuilt from the ground up by Tim Thompson and Mike McCarthy to be the calling card of the Pack for when Favre does finally decide to hang them up. For Seattle, they could easily be the darkhorse of the NFC, and no one knows Lambeau Field in January better than Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks are always prepared in the playoffs and have the experience of losing to Green Bay in the playoffs from a few seasons ago. While I was heavily tempted to pick the 'Hawks, I have to go with the Packers at home. Seattle has become a one-dimensional football team and the fall of Shaun Alexander has been swift and decisive. If the Seahawks cannot generate a ground game Matt Hasselbeck is in for a long day. They won't and he will be.
Packers -- 27 - 20
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots -- Ok, Jags. You wanted it, well now you've got it. Everyone, every fan, every reporter, every blogger(except this one) thinks the Jags are going to be the ones to take down the Patriots. They are grasping for hope everywhere, even going back to the playoff defeat of the Broncos in 1996 when the Jags came into Denver an upset the #1 seed. Keep reaching, Jacksonville. The only real hope the Jags have is the weather, should it become a sloppy game. It isn't supposed to be, and that doesn't bode well for the Jags. I was watching their game with Pittsburgh with great interest, looking for any reason I should consider them this week and couldn't find one. Actually I am even more confident the Pats will put a beatdown on the Jags. YEs, the Jags do have a solid running game, but Billy Boy will have something in store to stop the run. Besides, it isn't like the Pats have to stop the running game for 4 quarters. The Pats will make like difficult for a quarter or so, get a lead, and force the Jags to play catch up, essentially stopping Jacksonville's ground game by default. Oh, and the Patriots have Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and the rest of the highest scoring offense is NFL History. Sometimes people just want to make these things difficult. The minute the game was over and the Pats had lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship game this team has been on a mission from the top down. That mission begins in earnest against the Jags. Sorry, Jacksonville, but until you can consistently beat the Colts I am not going to give you any respect against the Pats.
Patriots - 34 - 10
SUNDAY GAMES -
San Diego Chargers @ Indianapolis Colts -- I can't stand the San Diego Chargers. Sure, they are a divisional rival who has put a beatdown on the Broncos the last 4 times the teams have met, but it goes deeper than that. No team talks as much, celebrates as much, jumps around as much, as the Chargers on every play. Then, they have the audacity to cry when teams do it to them. Did I mention that they have won exactly one playoff game since 1994?? For as little as they have done, especially in big games, the Chargers talk like they have a cupboard full of Lombardi Trophies. Oh yea, they don't have any. Oops. They there is the Colts. The defending Super Bowl Champs. One of only 4 teams, and the first since the Broncos in 1998, to actually have a better record the year after winning the Super Bowl and no one is talking about them. They take care of their business like an assassin, silent, quickly, deadly. In and out before you know it, leaving carnage in their wake. They have been on a mission of their own this season. Alot of teams, good teams, have one a single Super Bowl. Teams are considered GREAT by going back-to-back. The Colts know this, their fans know it, even if they won't admit it. That quest starts against the Chargers, a team that intercepted Peyton Manning 6 times, had two special teams TD's and STILL needed an Adam Vinatieri miss to win by 2 frickin' points. Of course, the trash talk ensued and the Colts remember all of it. I am going to go out on a limb and say Peyton Manning won't throw 6 picks, and Adam Vinatieri won't miss any field goals from inside 30 yards. In fact, Peyton may throw 6 TD's, just for good measure. Colts, led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders lay the wood to the Chargers and their sissy quarterback, setting up the game of the millennium -- Colts V. Patriots.
Colts 38 - 17
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys -- No way the NFL Playoffs can stick to the chalk, can they? In a word no, which means I am taking the Giants. Every year there is a team that barely gets in, but when they do they get on a roll. The Steelers rode that wave to a Super Bowl title in 2005, winning 3 road games on their way to winning Super Bowl XL. I know, painful memories. I'm not saying the Giants are going to go that far, but they have all the ingredients to make a serious run. They have alot of talent on defense with arguably the best front-four in the League, and most importantly and hot quarterback. I openly questioned the Giants motivation for playing their starters 4-hard quarters against the Patriots. Color me corrected. The Giants learned alot about themselves and their quarterback, even in defeat, and it showed against the Buccaneers last week. Meanwhile, in Club Phillips, Tony Romo is vacationing with his hoochie-mama in Mexico, preparing for the biggest game in his career I'm sure, and Terrell Owens is hobbled. Lest we forget, the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since the mid-90's and have a home-playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals in more recent history. They have had a great season, but if they lose this weekend it will be for nothing. Without Owens at 100%, the gaping hoples that Jason Witten has enjoyed all season won't be there. The Giants will also look to smack Romo every chance they get. It's the perfect storm, of sorts, for the Giants. They are rolling, the Cowboys are reeling, and oh yea, did I mention how hard it is to beat a team 3 times in the same season? Too hard for the Cowboys.
Giants 30 - 24