Archive for the 'Divisional Playoff Predictions' Category

13
Jan
08

NFL Playoff Predictions: Giants at Dallas

The Giants lost their last regular season game, but it seems like it could have been the best thing that has happened to the team since Eli Manning stopped sucking all the time. While the Buccaneers rested their starters and then came out to play last week’s game against New York, but not until they woke up in the fourth quarter, the Giants were ready from the get-go and now they have the confidence of a team that feels like they can beat any team in the league. So, will that happen in Dallas? Can Eli win two playoff games in a row?

One thing that would certainly help their cause would be for Terrible Omens to be sidelined with that high ankle sprain from a few weeks ago. Chances? Slim. As one of our FanYard members, Maize, said about TO, “If he has spent the past three weeks trying to learn tight-rope walking over the jungles of Costa Rica, living off a diet of raw vegetables and nuts in the rain forest surrounding one of the big volcanoes, and catches a flight on Sunday morning back to Dallas where he hitchhikes to the stadium and does not even get time to shower, he will still be on the field for the first play his offense has in this game.”

Could not have said it better myself.

The rest of the FanYard crew has spoken as well, and they seem to mostly think that Tony Romo will be able to stop thinking about Jessica Simpson long enough to lead America’s Team to victory. The Yardstick for the game favors the Cowboys to win by three points, with only 39% believing the Giants will get another road win. Mmmm…America. Only here can Jessica Simpson become a prop for a sportsbook and a reason to read about football all in the same day. Thanks to Football Jabber for pointing that out to us.

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***With ten minutes left in the game, the Indianapolis Colts just scored to go ahead of the San Diego Chargers by a score of 24-21 and Philip Rivers sat out the last series with an injured leg, it looked like. Bob Sanders was injured earlier, so that outta even things out, right? Yeah, right. Sanders is back on the field and the Chargers need Billy Volek to prove me wrong. Oh, yeah, and LaDainian Tomlinson is out, too. So, basically, it is Billy Volek and Chris Chambers trying beat the Colts now. Best of luck, guys.***

***UPDATE: Wow! The Chargers went downfield and scored to go up 28-24, led by Billy Volek and Michael Turner, and the Chargers held off the Indianapolis Colts in the last game to be played at the RCA Dome to win the game. The Chargers are in the AFC Championship game in New England next week, and the Patriots have to love the physical toll this game took on San Diego. A very surprised congrats to Norv Turner. 92% of FanYard said the Colts would win and the Yardstick for the game favored the Colts by eight.***

12
Jan
08

Seattle Won’t Win, Won’t Play

With :15 second left in the first half and his Seattle Seahawks down 28-17 in their road playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, Mike Holmgren showed why he is a coach who was lucky to have won any Super Bowls, and why he likely will not win another no matter how talented of a team he is coaching. By taking a knee to run out the clock after his team had squandered an early 14-0 lead on two scores that came as a result of Ryan Grant’s two early lost fumbles, Holmgren once again demonstrated that he sometimes forgets football fundamentals and has almost no clue about the very existence of a small thing called time. They ran out the clock – with time-outs to spare.

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I don’t know how to better express what a mistake this is, so I’ll quote Gregg Easterbrook from ESPNs Page 2:

“Then again, maybe Spenser, my 12-year-old, had the explanation. Trailing 10-0, the Redskins took possession on their 9 with 47 seconds remaining in the first half, holding three timeouts. Washington ran up the middle to kill the clock, not using its timeouts, and this led to some interesting tactical maneuvering in the closing seconds to prevent Seattle from attempting the extremely rare free kick after a fair catch. Anyway, when Spenser saw the Redskins had no intention of trying to score, despite a zero on the scoreboard and all three timeouts, he scoffed, “They’re sure to lose now.” And yea, verily, it came to pass. I don’t care if you are backed up on your 9, it’s a playoff game and you have no points. Try to score!”

Ever since the Super Bowl that Seattle lost to the Steelers, when they appeared to not realize there was even a game clock, Holmgren has seemed to have lost his edge. Unfortunately for his team, it gives them very little chance to live up to their potential.

The Yardstick for this game finalized favoring the Packers to win by six points. They have outscored the Seahawks 28-3 since going down by fourteen. Make the score 35-17 now. I could not even finish this piece before the Packers scored again. Seahawks…get rid of him.

***Update: Wow, is Babineaux ever fast. He just took Ryan Grant down from behind in almost blizzard conditions on a run where Grant set the Packers post-season record for rush yards in a game. He now has 167 on 20 carries, with two touchdowns. Talk about making up for those two fumbles.

In Holmgren news, the offense, backed up in their own end and with 18 yards to go on first down, called an Alexander run, which got maybe a yard. Dumb call, if you are trying to get a first down, anyway – which is the point isn’t it. Green bay allowed seven runs of 20+ yards in 424 attempts during the season. That’s less than one in sixty. Might as well try, though, hey what?

Oh…make it 42-20 and give Ryan 169 and three scores. If Grant had celebrated his third score by making a snow angel, would he get fined by the NFL for using a prop?

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11
Jan
08

NFL Playoff Predictions: Chargers at Colts

The last time these two met, in San Diego in Week 10, the Colts were without sure-handed targets Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez and Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning threw six interceptions. The Chargers stormed out to a 23-0 lead halfway through the second quarter and even LaDainian Tomlinson looked a little bit happy on the sidelines. Most of the points, by the way, came from one punt and one kickoff return each for touchdowns by Darren Sproles; his first two NFL touchdowns. Then, Norv Turner coaching kicked in and the Chargers watched helplessly as Indianapolis began coming back.

 

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At 23-7, Adam Vinatieri missed a 42-yard field goal to end the first half. A Kenton Keith touchdown in the third made the game 23-13 and the Colts attempt to covert for two was successful as well, making it 23-15. Just fifteen seconds later, Philip Rivers was sacked; the line of scrimmage was his own 8-yard line. He dropped the ball going down as he had seen Antonio Gates get free in the flat and tried to pass the ball as he was getting sacked, forgetting for a split second about the rain that was pouring down, making his hands and the ball too slippery to grip together. The resulting fumble was recovered by Indy in the end zone, making the score 23-21 with 14:28 to go in the fourth quarter. The Chargers stuffed Joseph Addai as he tried to run up the middle for the two-point conversion.

Somewhere around this time, Philip Rivers went to sit beside what appeared on television to be a sulking and pouting LaDainian Tomlinson as LT sat near the end of a bench on the sidelines. As soon as Rivers pluncked his butt down, LT jumped up and stormed off. It looked for all the world like he pretty much was disgusted with Rivers and wanted nothing to do with him. After the game, however, LT had this to say about the apparent rift: “I saw why it looked like that,” Tomlinson said. “But the crazy thing is that was the time I just got done talking to (Lorenzo Neal). I didn’t realize Philip had sat down.” He should run for office.

Then, with just 1:34 on the clock, Vinatieri lined up for a 29-yard chip shot field goal to complete the Colts comeback. Shockingly, he missed that one as well.

“I should make that kick every time,” Vinatieri said. “There are no good excuses. I just missed it.” Yeah, we saw…twice.

After holding the Chargers to three-and-out, Manning got the ball back with :22 seconds, but threw his sixth interception to seal the unlikely and very lucky Chargers victory, and Indy’s second straight loss.

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So what happened? Well, even with six Manning interceptions, the Chargers were able to score just one offensive touchdown and almost lost the game, were it not for a missed 2-point convert (which would have tied and given either team a chance), or either of two missed field goals by Vinatieri. At home.

This week, the Colts may still be without Harrison, but they are use to that now. The Chargers will be without Antonio Gates – something they are not use to at all. And the Colts are at home and well-rested. And Norv Turner is still coaching the Chargers. And Tony Dungy has rumors of his impending departure from the Colts swirling about, perhaps giving the team a little extra incentive to win more games for the man they have grown to love and respect.

Something about this looks for all the world to me like a big-time Indianapolis victory.

The Yardstick for this game is calling for a 10-point Colts victory, but I think it will more likely be around an absurd 21 point win; a wholesale slaughter. The only real intrigue, I suspect, will be watching to see LT explode on the sidelines. Hopefully, he and Turner will actually get into a hockey fight on the sidelines.

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10
Jan
08

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions: Jags at Pats

Every year, there are, interspersed amongst the games whose outcomes we are unsure, positive, or uncaring of, those games which seem to transcend all that we normally think, care and feel about football. For many, from what I gather after having read pretty much this entire Internet on the subject, one of those games will happen this weekend when the Jacksonville Jaguars enter Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, just outside Boston, for their NFL Divisional Playoff game against the New England Patriots.

This game has even given my friend Lee, over at Football Jabber, fits of Bushillariness [booshhiluh-ree-nis] – where he says one thing, then completely contradicts his thoughts, then, in the end, he picks what you would not expect him to from reading what he says. When done, in describing what he has chosen to do, he makes it sound like he would have picked the opposite, but maybe next time. [Yes, Steven Colbert, you may use this word. In fact, you can have it. You’ll put it to better use, I am sure. But you must give acknowledgement to FanYard, as I am sure you already would have. It is kind of like truthiness, personified.]

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The talk, of course, is all about whether or not the Jaguars can beat the Patriots in this game. Can they exploit the perceived weakness of the 16-0 Patriots: their run defense? Is it possible that the Jacksonville defense can contain Randy Moss and Wes Welker and hurry Tom Brady into making a few mistakes, and then capitalize on those mistakes enough to hand the Pats what would be their first and last loss of the season?

Much of what is out there says, yes, the Jags can do it. They have the second-best running game in the league and the best in the AFC. Bill Belichick actually thinks it is the best in the NFL, and I would go with his evaluation over the paint-by-numbers rankings gotten when you go simply by yards alone, as NFL rankings do.

What happens after many people think to themselves, “Well, hey, yeah, the Jaguars can beat the Pats.” is that they then extrapolate can into will, and that is where this madness must be brought to a screeching halt.

People, you have the coach of the year…nay, the coach of the decade, leading the team of the…one of the best teams ever assembled in any sport, into the first playoff game after an unprecedented 16-0 regular season. With two weeks to prepare…for a good, young, upstart team with a new quarterback with a very interesting and heart-warming, feel-good story and an excellent running game, and a head coach who is just now learning that sometimes you must have the cajones to take risks in this league before you are going to come across as smart.

Yes, that young team could come into New England and beat the Patriots, of course. Anything can happen in a football game, we all should know by now. But the chances are slim. So slim that I find it truly amazing how many people are saying it is going to happen.

And, if these naysayers are being that way because they just really hope to see their hated Patriots lose so badly that they can’t seem to allow logic into their thought processes, here is a hint for when the Pats play in the AFC Championship game against either San Diego or Indianapolis: pick New England. No matter what you think, pick New England to win and write it everywhere you can.

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New England thrives on bulletin board material, or so we are led to believe, in order to keep focused on proving everyone wrong. It is too late for this weekend’s game, you’ve already given them all the firepower they need to be pumped up. The will beat down the Jags 35-17. The Yardstick for this game calls for just a ten-point Patriots victory, but it is a little low.

Next week, think about it before you write it…if you want them to lose, that is. Or give the Jaguars a ‘blueprint to win‘, like the Wall Street Journal has, thanks to Mike Tanier from Football Outsiders.

Before all that, though, join FanYard and add your two cents to the Yardstick for this game and every major football and basketball game in America.