Following up my NFL Preview from many moons ago, I present Ahab’s Playoff Preview for the NFL. First off, a review of my picks.
AFC East: I picked the Pats, and I was right. I didn’t know how right.
AFC South: I picked the Colts, right again.
AFC West: Chargers, also right.
AFC North: I picked the Steelers, making me 4 for 4 on AFC Division winners.
AFC Wildcards: I didn’t do so well here, picking Cincinnati and Denver to win Wildcards; the actual wild card teams are Jacksonville and Tennessee.
NFC West: I picked San Francisco. So sue me, it’s my one loyalty pick. The actual winner was Seattle.
NFC East: I picked the Eagles – also wrong. I had no idea that Tony Romo and the (spit) Cowboys would be so damn good this year.
NFC North: I picked Chicago, wrong as well. Honestly, I don’t think anyone outside of Wisconsin picked the Packers to win their division this year.
NFC South: I picked the Saints. This (and Chicago) were supposed to be my “safety” picks, the easy ones. The Saints struggles coupled with a resurgent Tampa Bay (wtf) sort of put me in my place.
NFC Wildcards: Really wrong here. Although my Detroit pick was looking genius in the first 6 weeks, they flattened out midway through the season. And Arizona pretty much stank it up all over the place. The actual NFC Wildcards are the Giants and the Redskins.
Anyway, on to the matchups and predictions for the playoffs!
Wild Card Round
Jaguars at Steelers: The Steelers have limped into the playoffs, not looking sharp and missing their star running back, Willie Parker. Meanwhile, the Jags have pretty much flown under everyone’s radar while rolling up an 11-5 record in the toughest division in the NFL (the AFC South). Seriously, when you have to play the Colts and the Titans twice each, you are not in a cupcake division. I’m picking the Jags, 23-17. I think they’re stronger in the run, and have a real fire this year.
Titans at Chargers: The Titans made the playoffs by beating the Colts last night; admittedly it was a Colts team resting pretty much all it’s starters after the first half. I like the Titans, I think they’re scrappy and tough, but I don’t think they can overcome the Chargers’ home field advantage, or LT. Chargers win 31-20.
Redskins at Seahawks: My mom is going to hate me for this, but I think the ‘Skins are going to win this game. Seattle has really seemed to lack a sense of urgency on the field this season, and that’s going to carry into the postseason. Meanwhile, for the first time in years, the Redskins are playing with guts and courage. This one is pretty close, but I’ll give the edge to the Skins, 14-13.
Giants at Bucs: If you had asked me who would win this game before I saw the Giants/Patriots game, I would have told you the Bucs, hands down. Now I’m not so sure. Eli looked better than he had all season against the Pats, throwing the ball very well and looking very sharp. That being said, the Bucs are going to have Jeff Garcia back and healthy, and are at home. This is possibly the toughest game to call, because I don’t think that either of these teams has demonstrated the ability to straight blow the other out of the water. I’m going with my boy Jeff Garcia – he’s a winner. Bucs win with a late field goal, 24-21.
My picks for the Division round are based off my picks for the Wild Card round – I’ll offer revised picks for any that I mess up.
Jaguars at Patriots: This is the match-up I want to see. Despite my love for Tom Brady and the Pats, I think a team like the Jags is exactly the kind of team that could go into Massachusetts in the winter and win. The Jags run the ball well, play tough defense, and don’t make a lot of mistakes. They’re built to play tough, smashmouth football. The same strategy that you use against the Colts (keep the ball out of Peyton Manning’s hands) applies to the Patriots and Tom Brady. If we get this match-up, this would be a fantastic game. I think that Pats will pull a win out of it, but not a by a lot. Call it 14-10.
Chargers at Colts: I don’t even have to think about this one. The Colts are the defending champs, and in the dome against the Chargers, I think this is a pretty lopsided game. Marvin Harrison should be back just in time to whomp the Chargers, and the Colts win in a rout, 38-21.
Redskins at Cowboys: As much as I hate them, the Cowboys win this one. They weren’t really playing for anything last night, and I think they come out firing and tear the Redskins apart. There’s not a lot of commentary to make here, the Cowboys are flat better than the Redskins. 31-20.
Buccaneers at Green Bay: This is the game the Bucs don’t want, at Green Bay in the winter. A rested and ready Packers team at Lambeau Field is not a team you to play, especially if you’re from Florida. The Packers will lay a beating on the Bucs, 24-7.
AFC Championship: Oh look, I’ve predicted a Colts vs. Patriots championship game. What a surprise. You know, it’s funny. The Pats from this year look like the Colts from two seasons ago, that Colts team that lost to the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Colts run the ball and play tough defense…and they kind of look like the Pats from their last championship season. You could argue this one back and forth for hours, but despite all my desire to see the Pats go 19-0 and shut up the ’72 Dolphins, I think the Colts win this one, with a last second field goal by Vinatieri; partly because I love irony. Final Score 31-30.
NFC Championship: I think I went with the easy pick here, the Packers at Dallas. I’m picking the Packers. My hatred of the Cowboys prevents me from even being close to rational when it comes to the thrice damned team from Dallas. Packers win in a close game, 26-23.
Packers and Colts – this is a sportswriter’s wet dream. Brett Favre vs. Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. You could write columns and columns about the matchup of two of the greatest all time quaterbacks, blah blah blah. It would go on and on forever, until I got to the point where I just wanted them to play the game so I didn’t have to listen to it. Admittedly, I would LOVE this game, because I really do like Brett Favre, and I really like Peyton. I think the Colts would win, they’re a better team than the Pack. Peyton gets his second ring and solidifies his standing as one of the all time best, 30-24.
Let’s see how right I am.