Friday, January 12, 2007

Divisional playoff picks

My first foray into playoff score picking would have been pretty darn accurate if a certain starlet-dating quarterback made like a six-year old and caught the football. But, undeterred, I'm trying again with a dangerous twist: It's all 'dogs this week.

Indianapolis at Baltimore
Wait, so if I'm picking all underdogs, that means I have the Colts getting one week closer to the Super Bowl. That's sort of upsetting when I'm so fond of seeing Manning and Dungy get upset. But let me clarify something: I have nothing against Manning and Dungy, per se. It's just that they have been losing big games for so long -- both with and without each other -- that their big game failures have become ingrained in my perception of how the world works. And I like how the world works. And I hate change. The day Dungy lifts the Lombardi and Manning talks of Disney World is a horrifying day, indeed. All sorts of cats-getting-along-with-dogs scenarios suddenly come into play. In that light, it would be easy to pick against the Colts. The big-talking Ravens are hot. The Colts' "surprisingly" great defensive performance last week actually wasn't so atypical of how they always play at home -- and now they are on the road. But I have a feeling. An awful, scary feeling. I wish I had a bomb shelter.

Baltimore Colts 28 Cleveland Browns 17

Philadelphia at New Orleans
One of the knocks against Eagles' coach Andy Reid is his unwillingness to show any emotion, ever. That may have worked for Tom Landry, but Reid's still-as-a-statue performance when Donovan McNabb was literally puking away the Super Bowl in 2004 led to nothing but a rather unique way to lose a football game. During the Eagles' wild card match up last week Andy Reid lost his temper for the first time in recorded history. It was after Quarterback Jeff Garcia inexplicably wasted a timeout two seconds before the two minute warning. As Garcia trotted towards the sidelines, Reid tried to walk away calmly like he always does. But a strange and alien feeling overcame him and he lunged at his quarterback, hissing like a snake or maybe a cat would. (I wish I could find the video, but I can't.) So Reid's first dip into the human emotions wasn't quite human. Still, it was a start. And we can thank Garcia, the fiery Mexican, for finally making the placid Mormon feel the burn. Missing Lito Sheppard, their best coverman, the Eagles will need more than fire to beat the Saints and their explosive offense. The Eagles will need lots and lots of touchdowns. With Brian Westbrook, the original Reggie Bush, leading the way, the Birds will get them. This time New Orleans will drown in its own tears.

Philly wins 48 - 35

Seattle at Chicago
Like many, I've been firmly in the Dennis Green endorsed the-Bears-really-aren't-that-good camp all season. OK, I've never pounded a table and shouted about it, but I've always been willing to tell you -- in calm, cool and collected manner -- that the Bears are way too dependent on big plays from their defense and special teams and happened to have had their success against an incredibly soft schedule. And that, yes, they are the worst 13-3 team in NFL history. Anyway, who is going to pick a team which enters playoffs under the cloud of a debate over the length of their starting quarterback's leash? Seattle might not be so good either, but they are dripping with playoff experience and that is what is going to matter in this close game.

Seattle wins 16-14

New England at San Diego
Everybody wants to make this about Belichick v. Schottenheimer. Mr. playoff winner vs. Mr. playoff loser. But consider this existential notion: If John Elway never existed maybe Schottenheimer is Belichick. I know. If ifs and buts . . . And, at the end of the day, I probably would trust Belichick more than Schottenheimer in a big game. But that's not why I'm picking New England. The guy I don't trust is fading first year starter Phillip Rivers. Especially against a Patriots' defense with a history of making the Peyton Mannings of the world look foolish in January. LT will be great like he always is. He might even pick up the slack for Rivers and throw a couple touchdown passes. It won't be enough. Belichick over Schottenheimer. Yes, that will make me feel better about the steady direction of humanity.

New England wins 28-24

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