Not a bad Wild Card week, as I managed to go 3-1, faltering only by showing faith that Kansas City would somehow manage to do something, anything against the previously woeful Indy defense. Silly me. The divisional round features some great matchups, and I've been going back and forth on just about every game before deciding on my selections as follows.....
Indianapolis at Baltimore
Hmm..do we congratulate the Colts for winning despite a relatively bad performance by Peyton Manning? Maybe, but the Chiefs were as bad as the Colts were good, so I'm not sure how much can be taken from last week. The Ravens are built to win in the post-season, with a solid, ball-hawking defense couples with a much more reliable offense than what's been put out there in recent years. the big key is here, if Baltimore can control the line of scrimmage while on offense, grind the clock and keep Manning and Co. off the field, the defense can do the rest.
No way the Colt defense can reproduce last week's result while outside, on the road, and on grass. It could be an ugly game, but I'll go with the home team.
Ravens 20 Colts 10
Philadelphia at New Orleans
An absolutely unthinkable matchup a year ago. Saints are the story of 2006, while Philly is perhaps the hottest team in the league. So, what prevails, the momentum of a team riding high with a rejuvantated Jeff Garcia? Or a team who has attempted to lift an entire city on its collective back? Tough call, but with Philadelphia DB Lito Sheppard out of this game with the elbow injury, the Saints explosive offense gains a bit of an advantage. This could be the most entertaining game of the weekend, and once again the pick here is with the home team.
Saints 27 Eagles 23
Seattle at Chicago
Rarely has a #1 seeded team gone into the playoffs with so many question marks. The Bears look like a team that might have peaked in October, and have limped to the finish. Despite defensive lapses and injuries, and the incredibly inconsistent play of QB Rex Grossman, Chicago still is the team to beat, and the Seahawks are not getting past them. I can't remember a team in wihch the defense and special teams are an equal threat to match the point totals generated by the offnse, but Chicago is that team. Rex Grossman can quiet the critics, for one week at least, and guide the Bears to an easy home win.
Bears 27 Seahawks 10
New England at San Diego
The NFL wisely saved the best for last, as this one should be a dandy. Bill Bellichick and his 3 rings against Marty Schottenheimer and his ugly playoff record. Post-season hero Tom Brady against first time playoff starter Phillip Rivers. Hmm, based on those two factors, it's all Pats, however superstud RB LaDanian Tomlinson is the X-factor. How the Pats handle LDT is the obvious key to the game. Look, he is too good a player to not get his yards, and even a TD or two, but if New England can handle the rest of the offense adequately, that might be enough. They force Rivers to beat them, and they're in good shape. The Charger D has been back on track since Merriman returned, but Brady and his no-name receiving corps, along with the two pronged ground attack of Maroney and Dillon, should be able to find some holes and out up some points. Another big point: the Pats got jobbed on the road at Denver last year, which is the only post-season belmish on this group's record. That game is avenged here. My only road choice of the round, ladies and gents, is the Patriots.
Patriots 24 Chargers 20
Last week: 3-1