Friday, January 05, 2007

NFL: Picking Playoff Winners

The NFL Playoffs are officially here, and so far our first set of picks for this weekend's Wildcard round. As was expected, there are two nice matchups in the AFC side and two dismal coin flips on the NFC side. All season long, the NFL has been a virtual crapshoot and the first round of the playoffs should be no different. With that said, here are our rolls of the dice.

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts

Dustin Hockensmith: The Colts win by putting points on the board and making opposing offenses impatient and more prone to abandon the run. If Larry Johnson and the Chiefs don't get out of the gates early, Trent Green can't possibly lead a comeback through the air. The Colts are 8-0 at home this season and stay perfect on Saturday. Colts 24, Chiefs 13.

Steve Cernak: I'm skeptical picking the Chiefs because they are 3-5 on the road and the Colts are 8-0 at home. However, the Jaguars and Bengals both showed the league how to pick apart Indy's pathetic run defense. Larry Johnson will run wild and KC's great corner tandem of Patrick Surtain and Ty Law slows Peyton Manning. Chiefs 30, Colts 17.

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

DH: Both teams enter the playoffs with losses in three of their last four games, which makes it hard to gauge what they will do with clean slates. The matchup between an 'overconfident' Tony Romo and the Seahawks depleted secondary plays too big a part in this game, and I think the Cowboys win it ugly on the road. Cowboys 21, Seahawks 20.

SC: I don't like either team. So Bill Parcells is a better coach than Mike Holmgren, but that's the only advantage I'll give the 'Boys. Shaun Alexander I heard is pretty good. Seattle's receivers are good, but Matt Hasselback will be throwing to playoff proven Deion Branch.

What interests me more than the game is whether or not Parcells chokes the life from Terrell Owens. Seahawks 27, Cowboys 20.

New York Jets at New England Patriots

DH: This is the must-see game of the weekend. These two teams play the same brand of football under two coaches from the same school of thought. The Jets are a nice story under Bill Belichick disciple Eric Mangini, but I just don't see them winning in Foxboro. Tom Brady leads a touchdown drive in the final five minutes, and the Pats come back to win. Patriots 20, Jets 16.

SC: Who picks against the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in January? Me. I never claimed to be smart. Belichick versus Eric Mangini pervaded the headlines, with Belichicks allegedly despising his former protégé. Could this be a distraction of epic proportions?

The Jets are a good team and Chad Pennington was the feel-good story of 2006. No one believed the weak-throwing quarterback would bounce back after his throwing shoulder exploded. He fought through can't after can't and this would make for one hell of an icing. The Jets' superior receivers put Pennington on the NY tabloid backpages and makes Mangini look genius. Jets 24, New England 21 (with the Pats missing Adam Vinatieri)

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
DH:
So much turmoil for the Giants, and here they are in the playoffs. They play the Eagles in Philadelphia for the second time this season with a new sense of hope and a second chance for their season. Tiki Barber and Brandon Jacobs run wild, and Jeff Garcia's emotions get the best of him. Giants 28, Eagles 21.

SC: The Giants are my team. I follow them closely. They looked like Super Bowl contenders the first half of the season but the second half… Tom Coughlin is a joke. Peyton Manning did a great job teaching his younger brother Eli how to completely miss expectations. Trust me, I could go on forever. Even though the Eagles stink too: Eagles 107, Giants -3.

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