Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pick Your Poison

Let me get my football picks on record here before I have to run a bunch of errands. Waiting for the mail to come, then I gotta boogie.

Quick playoff stats. Four teams with the bye this year -- Dallas, Green Bay, New England, Indy -- have a combined record of 55-9. That has to be an all-time record.

Since 1990 in the NFC, home teams with a bye in this divisional round are 30-4 . In fact, the number one seed in the NFC has won the last 17 divisional round games. Roll that around in your mouth a while before you start dialing your bookie's number and riding the hot underdog getting all those points.

First game starts around 4:30, Seattle at Green Bay. I'll be rooting for the Seahawks against Favre and his boys, but do I think they can win and, more importantly, am I picking them to win? Yes and no, if that makes sense. I think Seattle's defense is very underrated, with big-time scheme disrupters Pat Kerney and Julian Peterson -- two NFL players who display a non-stop motor, come to play, leave it all on the field ... pick a cliche and run with it. If they can put enough pressure on, we all know Favre is susceptible to the pick when he forces things, and that could turn the game around at any point given how well Seattle's secondary has been covering.

I see Seattle playing a conservative game on offense, keeping it close, but in the end Favre will make too many plays. Also, the Packers get one of the more favorable whistles in the league; in other words, GB gets the benefit of the doubt from the officials, and I see that trend not only continuing but accelerating in the postseason. Look for a pass interference call here, a coupla key Seattle plays called back, and the NFL gets what it wants: the Packers in the spotlight with Golden Boy Brett advancing in a close one, 28-20.

Second game, mighty Pats hosting upstart Jags, with New England obviously heavy, prohibitive favorites. Jacksonville I believe had no Pro Bowlers; almost every other Patriot will be going to Hawaii or has at some point in their career gone there. The one positive the Jags have going for them is their physical play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. If the running game clicks, then I like their chances to not get blown out. If they get a few turnovers, I can see them sticking around into the middle of the 3rd quarter. But the football gods would really have to be smiling down on them this evening for them to make enough big plays to pull off the shocking upset.

Of course, that the football gods do exist and intervene from time to time is as undeniable as it indisputable. Maybe this is the week those gridiron deities finally decide to curse Bill Belicheat and the unbeaten Cheatriots once and for all. Maybe it's this week, maybe next week, or maybe ultimately in the Super Bowl, but until the season is over, don't count it out. This doesn't appear to be the week the Pats are cut down, however, so look for a final somewhere in the range of Patriots 34, Jags 17. I hope I'm wrong, but what are the odds of that happening? We'll find out.

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