Friday, January 05, 2007

2006 NFL Playoffs - Wild Card Round

The NFL playoffs kick off on Saturday, and while I inevitably pledge not to pay attention after the Steelers have been eliminated (and usually make a pretty good effort at keeping my word), there are a few reasons I've decided to make this post.

1. F.C. has been rather slow recently, apart from Jonny's efforts regarding the D-League.

2. This is sort of a half-assed effort to prove that I'm not a completely incurable homer. I have opinions on things that don't have anything to do with Pittsburgh, believe it or not. I'm just less interested in expressing those opinions.

Truthfully, the fact that the Steelers won a Super Bowl makes this year's disappointment a lot more bearable. Don't get me wrong, it absolutely sickens me that the Steelers literally threw away four games when throwing away only three of them would have gotten them into the playoffs. But it's a lot easier to swallow now that I've seen them get a ring within the past year.

I figure what I'll do is first give my general idea of what the bracket will end up looking like, but I'll break down the games as they come, week by week. And by break down, I mean give a totally biased capsule of who I want to win and why, and who I actually think will win, and why.

2006 NFL Playoffs - Predicted Bracket


Indianapolis > Kansas City
New England > N.Y. Jets
Philadelphia > N.Y. Giants
Seattle > Dallas


Indianapolis > Baltimore
San Diego > New England
Seattle > Chicago
New Orleans > Philadelphia


San Diego > Indianapolis
New Orleans > Seattle


San Diego > New Orleans

Now, we'll look into the individual Wild Card Weekend matchups.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Indianapolis Colts (4:30 p.m., Saturday)
Who I want to win: Colts
I'm a little frustrated that the Chiefs are in the playoffs considering there are probably three or four other AFC teams I think would have a better chance of making a deep run into January, not the least of which are the Steelers. I'm not sure if anyone remembers what happened when the Steelers and Chiefs met head-to-head this season, but here's a clue.

I will say that I do have more respect for the Chiefs than I do a certain other weak AFC team because the Chiefs really had to fight their way into the playoffs after digging themselves a 2005 Steelers-esque hole. They won some important divisional games against some good teams, which is why they're still alive. However, I have nothing against the Colts except for 'Lil Ronnie, and I think Peyton does deserve to shed that "can't win in big games" tag.

Who I think will win: Colts
So many people are keying in on this game as the big "upset potential" matchup of the weekend because of the much-maligned Colts run defense and the fact that the Chiefs have Larry Johnson. What people are forgetting is that the Chiefs weren't exactly phenomenal at keeping points off the board, and against an offense like the one Peyton Manning directs, in the RCA Dome to boot, I just don't see them being able to keep up if the game becomes a shootout.

Furthermore, people don't seem to realize that Larry Johnson has already carried the ball 419 times this year. Yes, 419. That's a mind-boggling amount of carries, 68 more than the next most-frequently used back. That's a historically high number, even, and that kind of wear and tear is not good for a person's body, even someone as fit as an NFL running back. The Chiefs are probably really toying with Johnson's career whether they acknowledge that or not.

The big key for the Colts will be to go up early, and big. As long as the Chiefs can run the ball the possibility for an upset is going to exist, but I have confidence that Peyton & co. can keep piling on the points, forcing Trent Green to have to throw.

Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks (8 p.m., Saturday)
Who I want to win: Seahawks
I'm still sick of all the Tony Romo manlove, although it's abated somewhat after his performance down the stretch. And if you aren't a fan of the Cowboys, you're pretty much obligated to hate them. I also gained a little respect for all non-Jerramy Stevens/Mike Holmgren Seahawks personnel after Super Bowl XL.

Who I think will win: Seahawks
The Seahawks are virtually the same team that won the NFC Championship a year ago, only they've had some injury problems along the way. With everyone healthy and back on track, the Seahawks are certainly talented enough to really make some noise on the NFC's side of things. Plus, I have a feeling Tony Romo isn't done imploding yet.

New York Jets @ New England Patriots (1 p.m., Sunday)
Who I want to win: Jets
As much as I despise the Jets for having the audacity to make the playoffs despite showing absolutely nothing to warrant it during the regular season, I'd love to come back to a Boston that's crying into their beer. The less I have to hear from Patriots fans, the better.

Who I think will win: Patriots
The Patriots teams of the last couple of years are not the Belichickian juggernauts of the earlier part of the decade (I mean, Chad Scott starting at safety, for crying out loud). Tom Brady has looked more and more mortal with each passing season. A lot of people are getting suckered into the fact that the Jets beat the Patriots the last time these two teams met. But the Pats are still good enough and well-coached enough that they shouldn't have a problem dispatching of a team that had an AFC-worst .400 strength of victory percentage and lost to the Browns somewhere along the way, too.

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles (4:15 p.m., Sunday)
Who I want to win: Eagles
People think there's all sorts of rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philly, but there really isn't, except for maybe when it comes to hockey. For one thing, though we may be located in the same state, the cities are six hours away from each other. That's not a rivalry, that's practically a vacation (not that anyone would want to vacation in Philly, but the south Jersey shore is only about an hour further). Philadelphia is sort of like our younger, weaker brother, who annoys the hell out of us but is too harmless to really bother with. Kind of like Cleveland.

On the other side of the coin, there are plenty of reasons to not like the Giants. They have too many thoroughly dislikable players, including one who is of special personal abhorrence to me (Plaxico). They also finished 8-8 in the NFC, which is something that should be punishable by death.

Finally, if Jeff Garcia were to carry this team deep into the postseason, it'd be good for some quarterback controversy, which would be fun because the guy who'd be in danger of being supplanted would be Donovan McNabb. If the Eagles somehow did fluke into winning the whole thing, the head of every person in Philadelphia would explode from the sheer shock of having actually won something. Now that would be Darwinism at its finest.

Who I think will win: Eagles
I'll repeat an earlier sentiment: The Giants went 8-8. In the NFC. Eli Manning still hasn't proven he can do anything positive when he's most needed to do so, and the aforementioned Worm With Braids tends to dunk his hands in concrete before big games. The Giants have enough talent to win this game, but I'd be very surprised if they actually did.

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