Saturday, January 06, 2007

Playoffs??!!! Playoffs??!!!

In the immortal words of ex-Colts coach Jim Mora Sr., the NFL playoffs commence this weekend with four games on tap. Today, it's the Colts and their vaunted aerial attack against the Chiefs with Larry Johnson and a gargantuan offensive line. Tonight, the struggling Cowboys take on the Seahawks in Seattle. Tomorrow, it's a resumption of the Border War with our Patriots playing the J-E-T-S in Foxborough at 1, followed by Eagles-Giants at 4:30. As someone who picked all the games in this wacky, stupefying 2006 season, I am quite pleased there are only four to analyze this weekend. Following are my predictions for the first round, with some guest analysis (and then some) from a loyal reader on the Pats-Jets tilt.


@Indianapolis (-7) vs. KC
TV: NBC, 4:30 p.m.
Whatever bonus money the Chiefs get for making the playoffs, they should immediately write a check to the Denver Broncos, who managed to self-implode over the last two weeks of the season, allowing KC to back into the tournament. The first thought when this matchup was announced was 'wow, Indy cannot stop the run (see Jacksonville, week 14) and they have to face Larry Johnson.' As the week has gone on, however, I've come to my senses and now realize that while LJ will get his yards, you can't bet against Peyton, Marv, and Reggie on their home field in the playoffs. Another factor is the emergence of Colts rookie RB Joseph Addai, who while not spectacular, has gotten the job done late in the season. The Colts also are expecting the return of apparently the single greatest DB who's ever played pro football in Bob Sanders. I don't know who Bob Sanders is, but everyone seems to talk about him like he's friggin' Ronnie Lott. Anyway, while I positively detest the Colts and their a-hole GM - and I think the Chiefs can keep it close for stretches - I'm going with Indy in this one. 31-20.

Dallas (+3) @Seattle
TV: NBC, 8:00 p.m.
All the "experts" seem to agree that this is the toughest game on the board. Two underachieving teams who lucked into the dance. Dallas, like their grumpy coach, is one big, fat enigma. They were world-beaters during the Tony Romo craze but have looked very ordinary of late. They're an enigma because of the sheer depth of talent they have. On offense, they've got the wideouts in T.O. and Terry Glenn, the stud TE in Witten, the gifted RB in Julius Jones, the smarts and strong arm with Romo. I think the biggest disappointment in Big D has to be the D, though. If I could buy stock in 'the Cowboys defensive coordinator will be fired after this season," I'd be loading up in a big way. The Cowboys have an impressive front line, good backers and a solid secondary led by Roy Williams. Just plain hard to figure them out. Seattle is another puzzle. They lost their leaders (Hasselback and Alexander) at various points during the regular season and have never really found their way. Deion Branch has been disappointing. When I look at this game and try to find the main reason to take the Seahawks, it's their ridiculous home-field advantage. When the crowd's roaring, you simply can't hear yourself think in that building. All that said, I'm going with the more talented Cowboys. Something's gotta give for this sinking ship and for some reason, I'm seeing T.O. come up big after the late-season griping about lack of touches. Dallas, 23-16.


@New England (-8) vs. New York Jets
TV: CBS, 1:00 p.m.

(analysis and dissection courtesy of Jam) "I see Pats-Jets playing out one of two ways - both with Pats coming out victorious. First, the basics. Weather should not play a factor. Temps should be in the high 40's/low 50's and a quick check of the Doppler shows some high clouds but no precipitation until later in the night with a low pressure system moving in from the west. But, of course, New England weather is a crazy thing and could change. However, I don't see Mother Nature playing a factor in this game. It was great to see Pats QB Tom Brady throw the deep ball with some success last week against Tennessee, and the latest news indicates that the Jets left CB, Andre Dyson, will not play with a knee injury. He's probably their best cover guy. Their other 3 primary DB's are all 5'10" marginal players - Poteat, Miller and Barrett - and rookie Drew Coleman. Because of the past success the Pats have had on the ground against the Jets, I think the Jets will look to stop the run first. Contrary to most prognosticators, I actually see the Pats setting up the run through their passing game. I see them establishing the pass early in the game, and then we'll watch Dillon and Maroney all day. However, even if they don't establish the pass early, the Pats will still be able to run on the Jets. New York does not have a good run defense. Regardless, I expect the Pats to come out throwing - and successfully. I also see some big, game-changing deep plays through the air. The rags keep picking on the Jets O-line because they have two rookies, but I think they’re better than people think – allowing 34 sacks over the course of the season against some fairly tough defenses. Also, Pennington is smart picking up defenses; and with their short passing game he's not standing the pocket for long periods of time. The problem for the Jets O-line is that Mssrs. Wilfork, Warren, and Seymour are monsters along the defensive front line. I'm slightly concerned about Seymour's health. I haven't seen anything in the papers but he's been on the sideline a lot lately, probably due to the ongoing elbow problem. Wilfork is also nicked up, having missed the Pats’ last 3 games. I see the Pats coming out with their standard 3-4 defense, but I'd love to see them bring up their safeties - almost like a 3-5-2-1 to cut down on that pussy short game run by Chadwick Pennington. I'm sure we'll see some f'd-up zone coverages from the Pats, and blitz packages that come from the middle of the line (not the corner blitz) on 3rd and long. (As a side note, the Jet's have one of the better 3rd down conversion ratios in the AFC, but I attribute that to the fact that they aren't penalized a lot and have a lot of 3rd-and-short situations.). Getting back to the Jets offense ... they have been able to run the ball against the Pats - even with unspectacular and unknown running backs. And they have been able to move the ball through the air with Cotchery and Coles. My money says they will not be able to run the ball, and will have moderate success through the air. The absence of Rodney Harrison cannot be taken lightly. The Jets’ receivers are fast, and Rodney won’t be there to make them think twice. This makes it more important for Wilfork, Seymour and Warren to get to Pennington. They can't give Cotchery and Coles the time to get open and find the soft spots in the defense. Special teams and turnovers are always important. Jets’ return man Justin Miller is a Pro Bowler for a reason, but Maroney is also special (Pats are tops in the league in kickoff returns). New England will take care of the ball and defend against any big plays on special teams. This can always be a game f-er but I'm not seeing it this weekend. I think both teams will be able to move the ball with some success. However, Belichick will scheme a way to contain the Jets offense (especially in the red zone), and all the Pats need to do is execute on offense and they will run away with this game and then run out the clock in the 4th quarter. Look for Reche Caldwell to have another big day." 27-13 Pats victory.

New York Giants (+7) @Philadephia
TV: FOX, 4:30 p.m.

I know, I know - Philly and Jeff Garcia have been the late-season story in the NFL. And I still think they'll win this game, but I think it's going to be by a razor-thin margin and I say that because of one man: Tiki Barber. I don't care about the brilliance of Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and all the crazy blitzes that team runs. Tiki can be a one-man wrecking ball when he wants to be, and though I hate him (had on my roto team all year - 2 TDs all season, 3 last week), there's something to be said for this possibly being his last game. I think he comes out possessed. Eli, of course, worries me in a big way but look for Tiki to take some of the pressure off. As for the Eagles, it's hard to bet against the momentum they have, the D they have, and the insane home crowd that will fill up Veterans Stadium or whatever the hell it's called these days. Eagles, 20-16.

Nice work kampblogger!

I agree w/most of what you have to say. Though I like KC (to cover). I think the KC/Indy game will come down to a dinged-up Bob Sanders. Sounds like he may play - but if not, Larry Johnson runs the Colts right out of the playoffs. If he does play, he's potentially the biggest difference maker in that game but he's been out for a while now... Without him, Indy couldn't even stop you coming out of the backfield. Can they stop LJ w/him? big question

I say Philly wins by a touchdown - Tiki will have a nice day btwn the 20's, but I bet they keep Jacobs (and Tiki) out the red zone for the most part.... Giants D is a disaster, and Eli < Garcia at this point. Philly could very well sneak into the SB the way things are going right now.

Still say the play for NE/Jets is Jets and the over. Pats win - by more than a TD, as they won't be fielding a skeleton-crew defense this time. That defensive front is one of the best when complete - and that should enable NE to commit more guys to the short/middle and try to contain the deek/dunk Pennington.

I think Dallas wins as well - but that game could go either way. Again, the NFC is a freaking joke this yr. I agree w/Lebeau, go over in this game.

but in this crazy UFL 2007, we're all probably completely wrong, and the Jets win by 70, LJ runs for 35yrds and no scores, and Seattle wins 6-3.


Finally I get some Lloydy analysis. I think the best tease of the weekend is Cowboy/Seattle over (Seattle's D is dinged up) with the Pats. I heard someone say that Belichick would need to be put on suicide watch if the Pats lose this game.
p.s. I feel like the rookie that just got his 1st major league hit. thanks for publishing my rambling Kampy!
How bout this for a three-teamer?
Jets/KC/Dall over

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