Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Playoffs - Round 2

I know, it's only Tuesday, but I wanted to get these thoughts down before the hoopla dilutes my thoughts. One of the worst parts of the NFL playoffs is having every game analyzed over and over until you're sick of hearing about it. You can bet that by Thursday everyone will be sick of the Jaguars - Patriots matchup.

This past weekend was a bit of a let down. The Chargers - Titans game was an abomination, the Steelers - Jaguars game was sloppy despite the last second finish, and the Seahawks - Redskins game turned ugly for Washington in the second half. When the Redskins were leading in the first half and looking solid on offense, the announcers kept referring to Sean Taylor's 'presence' on the team. That he was somehow guiding them to bigger things. So what happened in the second half? Where did he go? Did he stop caring about his old team? Did they stop believing he was 'with them in spirit'? Did his ghost just shrug and think 'Ah, this team sucks anyway' and stroll into the light? Sorry, but if the announcers keep saying things about some divine presence guiding a team when things are going well, I feel they should mention something about it when things are going badly. Fair's fair.

As for the Giants game, I can't get past Eli Manning grinning like The Joker in his post game press conference. It was like even he couldn't believe how well he did. 'Gee, to be honest, I don't know how I did that. I'm pretty good, I guess'. Between this and the post Patriots 'Hey, we did a pretty good job out there' I predict a massive loss next weekend. Oh wait, they play the Cowboys next weekend. Hmmmmmm.

Saturday's Games

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (4:30PM): Seattle's defense looked pretty good against Washington, but then again they were playing Washington. Offensively, they didn't impress me at all. Alexander is running like he's 45 and Morris, while showing some explosiveness, doesn't seem to see the holes in the line very well. There were a few times that he just ran into the back of his blocker and fell down.

Add to that they're playing in Green Bay - often the kiss of death for visiting teams in the playoffs - and I'm tempted to pick the Packers by 40. But, I don't know. I just think Seattle is one of those teams that just know how to pull it off. They never look over powering, but they keep winning. You know, like those Patriot teams that kept surprising everyone a few years back? They have a decent QB who's been there before (even if he looked like shit), a solid running game and a decent defense. Basically, they're the exactly like the team they're facing.

Prediction: Seattle by 3. I have no basis in reality for this, just a feeling.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (8PM): On paper this is a nightmare matchup for the Patriots. The Jaguars are physical, talented and tough. They are going to give the Patriots all they can handle.....

...but it won't be enough. If I learned anything from the Steeler's game it's that you can't rely on Gerrard to win a playoff game. If he didn't scramble for the first down, his day would have been a total washout. Don't think he's talented enough to carry a team. There's a reason Del Rio designed a strong running attack for this team. And you know Belichick will design his defense to make Gerrard beat them. Here are his stats from last weekend: 9 for 21, 1 TD, 2 INT, 140 yards. Sorry, not going to cut it. Not against this team.

Besides, the Patriots have won 9 home playoff games in a row, Belichick is undefeated following a bye week (no idea if this is true, but it sounds good) and this team is just too good on both sides of the ball.

One other note: Del Rio showed some questionable game managing skills at the end of the Steeler's game, throwing a challenge and using up his team's final time out on what was an obviously correct call. What the hell was the point of that? Let's just say some alarms went off on that decision.

Prediction: Jags lead at half; lose by 10; me drunk by 4th quarter.

Sunday's Games

San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts (Noon): Man alive, I was not impressed with San Diego at all last weekend. They looked sluggish and confused. If they were playing any team that could actually score points - like....oh I dunno....the Colts - they would have lost by 15. And, yeah, I know the Chargers beat the Colts this year, but it took about 15 interceptions thrown by Manning and a rare, last second miss by Adam V to pull that out of their asses. From all accounts Harrison is playing and is healthy (this could change on a daily basis, though), which means this could get ugly very quickly for the Chargers.

Prediction: Indy by 50

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM): I admit it, I have no idea what's going to happen with this game. I had Dallas pegged for an early choke job, but now that they're facing the Giants (who they beat already this year - twice) they could get into the NFC finals. Shit. That means another week of listening to Owens yabber on. If there is one game I could care less about it's this one. Either TO or Eli Manning will get one game away from a Super Bowl appearance. I feel sick.

Hey, fun fact - Heading into the post season Eli Manning was responsible for 27 turn overs. All by himself. 20 interceptions and 7 fumbles lost. That is mind boggling. Let's put it some perspective. The Patriots as a TEAM lost 6 fumbles and had 9 interceptions.

In a related item Eli Manning was responsible for zero turnovers against Tampa Bay. This means he's due for at least two - possibly three - in the Dallas game.

Prediction: Dallas by 14. Eli throwing his arms up in exasperation at least 4 times.

By the way, if NE and Indy win, it will mark the 103rd straight year they'll meet in the AFC Championship game. OK, not really, but it will feel that way.

Two more sport related notes.

First, the Clemens press conference yesterday did nothing to dissuade me about his use of performance enhancers. The phone call to his trainer was just weird. If anything, it made it more clear that his old trainer didn't want to tell the Mitchell team about Clemens' drug use, but he 'didn't want to go to jail', which means he COULD NOT LIE. The whole 'what do you want me to do?' just confuses things more. And this still doesn't explain why the trainer would lie about Clemens but tell the truth about Petitte. How does that add up? I would have been more convinced if he held this press conference three days after the Mitchell report came out and not three weeks after. Reeks of desperation and calculation.

Second, the BCS needs to over haul things. I started watching the game last night and realized I had zero interest. It wasn't a championship game, it was someone's idea of who possibly, could be, might be the best teams playing each other. Why is it so difficult to setup some kind of playoff system? You can even keep the bowls if you want, just use them as determining who the best four teams are and go from there. Fucking get it together BCS! You're rapidly becoming irrelevant.

Today's distraction: Courtesy of ChuckSports, a fun game where you try and figure out the leaders in each category per decade in the NFL. For example, you need to enter in the names of the top 10 receivers from the 80s. Highly addictive. Consider yourself warned.

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