Thursday, January 04, 2007

2006 NFL Playoff Picks - Wild Card Round

Ah, the first week of the NFL playoffs. What better time than now to talk about…

…Baseball. Naturally, right?

Well, I’ve made promises to people, and they must be kept. And so, without further ado, I am going to give credit where credit is due.

When the Milwaukee Brewers come from out of nowhere and shock the world by being “the Tigers of 2007”, you can all say you heard it here first. And of course, I heard it first in a conversation with my friend and temporary (because it’s free) legal counsel, Vinny.

I’ll quote the conversation (or at least the good parts) at the end.

So, now that our little unpleasantness is out of the way, what say we dive right into a spirited preview of the four NFL Wild Card Round Playoff Games this weekend? Anybody up for that? Good…

As always, lines from and home teams are in CAPS


Chiefs (+7) @ COLTS: Ask any football fan what the worst possible playoffs situation could be for the Colts, and they’ll answer the exact same way: Facing a team with a dominant running game. Well, that’s exactly what happened. They drew the Chiefs and the uber-talented Larry Johnson. So, of course, the Colts have absolutely no shot at winning this game, right? Well…

Let’s not forget, the Colts have a pretty talented offense of their own. And while their running game isn’t what it has been in years past (just imagine if they’d kept Edge and drafted to fill in needs at linebacker and defensive line?), but they still have Peyton Manning and two of the top fifteen wide receivers in the league.

The way to beat the Colts is to keep their offense off the field (see Texans, Houston). But if Indy gets the touches on offense on Saturday, I’ll always take them in a shootout. Besides, the Chiefs’ defense isn’t exactly comparable to the ’86 Bears.

The Pick: Colts 31, Chiefs 20

Jets (+8.5) @ PATRIOTS: There’s two ways to look at this game. A) The Patriots and Bill Belichick are going to exact some serious revenge for the way the Jets dominated them, in Gillette, in November.

Or, B) The Jets have absolutely no fear of the New England “mystique”, nor do they fear Belichick, Brady, Bruschi, or anybody else wearing a flying Elvis helmet, and they march into Foxboro Sunday afternoon and take care of business once again.

Personally, I think the game is going to come down to a couple of factors. The Jets inability to stop the run (ranked 24th, allowing 130ypg) against the backfield of Corey Dillon & Laurence Maroney could allow the Patriots to dominate time of possession and field position all day long. But the Patriots’ inability to cover anyone on punts and kickoffs this year (net average of only 36.2 yards per punt) means that the Jets could be looking at a short field all day and won’t need much clock to move the ball. And yes, I’m carefully glossing over the entire “rookie kicker who’s never kicked under pressure” situation for New England.

I can’t imagine this game will ever really get out of hand, and even though I can easily see the Patriots potentially blowing the Jets out of the water, I don’t think Eric Mangini will let that happen.

The Pick: Patriots 27, Jets 20


Cowboys (+2.5) @ SEAHAWKS: Talk about a lousy match up. Oh, wait that’s right… it’s the NFC. They’re all lousy matches. Anyway…

The Cowboys limped into the playoffs, losing three of their last four and only beating the Falcons, who hadn’t beaten a quality opponent in the six weeks previous, and were basically playing out the string. The shine is definitely off Tony Romo – Bill Parcells will be happy we’ve all put away the anointing oils.

Of course, the Seahawks aren’t exactly world beaters right now either. They had lost three straight before pounding the wholly awful Bucs in Week 17. Hasselbeck and Alexander have been back together for six weeks now, and the Seahawks are 3-3.

The question becomes – which team can hold it together longer Saturday night? Neither team was particularly good stopping the pass the year (Seattle 16th, Dallas 24th), but the Cowboys were reasonably good at slowing down the run (10th, Seattle 22nd). If the Cowboys can slow down Shaun Alexander and force Matt Hasselbeck to beat them, they stand a good shot of winning.

Unfortunately for my namesakes in Big D, I don’t think they can do it.

The Pick: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 17

Giants (+7) @ EAGLES: I’m beginning the think more and more that I might have been right a while back when I suggested that the Giants had been playing possum for the past two months, luring everyone – even their own teammates! – into believing that they were a sub-standard, non deserving playoff team.

I mean, c’mon people – are you really that confident in Jeff Garcia leading Philadelphia into the Promised Land? The man hasn’t had a productive season since the days when I could wake up at noon and consider it “an early day” (2002 for those of you who don’t know me personally).

Let’s look at it a different way. The Eagles couldn’t stop the run for most of year, but were good against the pass. The Giants can’t stop the pass to save their lives, but were pretty solid against the run. That means that the Eagles’ biggest weapon, Brian Westbrook (one of the most underrated players in the league, by the way) could easily get shut down completely. While the Eagles could shut down Eli Manning, there’s no reason to believe that Eli wouldn’t do that to himself anyway.

It’s going to come down to one thing – if Tiki Barber & Brandon Jacobs are able to grind out yards and dominate the time of possession, the Giants could hold on and win this thing outright. But even if they don’t, seven points is too much to give up in any NFC game.

The Pick: Eagles 24, Giants 20

Now, fair warning and full disclosure – I am terrible at picking against the spread in the playoffs. I don’t know why – I’ve been sub-par, at best, in all three seasons of picking games. That’s why I didn’t give a full playoff prediction and try to pick the winners all the way to the Super Bowl – I’d just jinx whichever team I picked.

Quote of the Week:

As promised, the prediction of my boy Vinny (via IM), regarding the Brewers in 2007. And, of course, my smart-ass response:

Vinny: I want you to record this: Vinny says the Brewers are this year's Tigers. Not going to the World Series, because the Mets are doing that, but they will win the Central and go to the playoffs.

Me: well, if they don't go to the World Series, then they're not this year's Tigers… they're this year's Mets

The cheap shot was too easy. And when the Brewers finish yet another season floundering around .500, feel free to refer back to this page and mock him.

Of course, judging by recent history, .500 might just be enough to take the NL Central and the World Series.



Post a Comment

<< Home