Just like I said in my last post, the playoffs are coming up on Saturday. I would sum up my feelings in the opening paragraph, but I think I can scatter them out in the upcoming paragraphs with my picks.
Redskins (9-7; 4-4 away) @ Seahawks (10-6; 7-1 home)
My heart is with the Redskins here. I think it’s wonderful for what they have done in the second half of the season to strive to get into the playoffs with heavy hearts filled with thoughts of Sean Taylor. Following Taylor’s death, the Redskins (5-6) ended up losing to the Buffalo Bills in a tight contest. The 5-7 Redskins looked like they were done. They were set to play the Bears in only four days after playing the Bills. They were heartbroken, tired and emotionally exhausted. But somehow, someway these guys pulled together and managed to win four consecutive games, butting their way into the playoffs in what seems to be destiny.
But there’s a big problem here. Three weeks ago, I made it clear to those I bet sports with that my sleeper team would be the Seattle Seahawks. I had them going far in the playoffs. Now, it’s a bit harder to say the same thing. Let me say this: I want the Redskins to win (says Troy the fanboy/homer that loves heartfelt sports stories), but I have the story set in my mind for the Seahawks to win (says Troy the guy who makes inane sports predictions).
Outcome: 24-16 Seahawks
Jaguars (11-5; 5-3 away) @ Steelers (10-6; 7-1 home)
I love this matchup. The Jaguars have had the Steelers number the past few years. They’ve used those digits in the numbers wisely, spanking the Steelers, on their way to racking up a few victories against Pittsburgh. The Steelers were virtually undefeated at home this year — you see that “7-1 home” excerpt from the top? That’s a sexy stat anywhere else. Except here. The Jaguars were the team that broke through the barrier and jacked the Steelers from being undefeated at Heinz.
Playing the same team you beat earlier in the season over again isn’t always the funnest thing to do. It’s rather tough, especially when you’re going back to their home field again to try to tack on another win. But, if Jacksonville can do what they did last time to Pittsburgh — apply pressure to Ben Roethlisberger, challenge the Steelers’ suspect pass defense and run Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew right at the defense — it’s lights out for the Steelers. But, I must say, I have a strange feeling about this one.
Outcome: 21-10 Jaguars
Giants (10-6; 7-1 away) @ Buccaneers (9-7; 6-2 home)
If you don’t think this game is awkward from an outlook standpoint then you must be the type of person that likes mustard on tacos. The Giants are 7-1 away? The Bucs are 6-2 at home? I know a lot of people may not be interested in this matchup, but I kinda am. I liked the intensity the Giants used to play against the Patriots with. I think they know their limits on defense. Think of it this way — Tom Coughlin NEEDS to win this game. Or else it will be another first round exit for the Giants — three in a row. Carolina, Philadelphia, then Tampa B__?
I was one of the nay-sayers over the off-season saying that Jeff Garcia would be below average in Tampa this year. I did admit that he played well in the West Coast offense and could be the guy that [John] Gruden was looking for, but still yet I thought Garcia was old, washed up, and that his tenure as a Philadelphia Eagle was a fluke. Man was I wrong. He didn’t need to be passing for 20+ TDs this season. He just needed to execute when his team needed him and he did just that (only 4 INTs). However, I just have too much faith in the fortitude of the Giants here.
Outcome: 35-17 Giants
Titans (10-6; 5-3 away) @ Chargers (11-5; 7-1 home)
Could this game truly be hard to pick? The Titans gripped ahold of a 17-3 4th quarter lead on the Chargers last month during the regular season before they blew it like chunks when the Chargers rumbled back to the tie the game, force overtime and rip the hearts right out of Tennessee. Well, this past weekend the Titans ripped the heart out of Cleveland fans — like a growing trend, right? They are ready to do it against San Diego, now. The Titans are one funky team. They have a 1,000 yard running back, a QB that seems to get a lot of press love that’s average, a head coach that’s brain is probably literally a football (this is a compliment; not a “haha, you’re dumb” statement at all) because he knows it. Their defense seems to be their forte and they use it quite well.
San Diego’s Philip Rivers had to do a little more this season and had his ups and downs, but shown he was capable. A lot of people thought LaDainian Tomlinson had a down year — but when you average 4.7 yards on the ground, rushing for 1474 yards, that’s not a down year. Plus, he won the rushing title. But when San Diego started the year 1-3 I was ready to boast my claims, taunting around, saying, “Norv Turner’s a joke. He’s 30 games under .500 for his career on his win-loss record! He’s a joke!” Well, they were 11-5 and didn’t have any legit competition in the AFC West this year. Norv Turner hasn’t shown his true-to-life downfall yet, but it could be coming. However, I don’t see it happening Sunday evening.
Outcome: 28-24 Chargers