Friday, January 05, 2007

Wild card picks

Since I mastered picking against the spread during the regular season, I am going to turn my highly refined brand of futurism to picking exact scores for the playoffs, starting with the four wild card match ups scheduled for this weekend:

Kansas City at Indianapolis

When the playoff schedule was set, everyone took a look at this one and saw a premonition of an upset. Reason being, the Chiefs have Larry Johnson and a beast of an offensive line, and the Colts' front seven couldn't defended against a girl scout troop trained by French generals. Solid logic sure, but here is another fact that trumps any and all of that: The Colts almost never lose at home. Only three home losses, including the playoffs, over the last three years. The Chiefs, on the other hand, are a consistently lousy road team. Will the Colts be headed home disappointed again this post season? Of course they will. But this won't be the week Dungy flees to the head coaching vacancy at the University of Minnesota, and Manning prepares for an off season of shooting cheerfully self-deprecating TV spots through the defense-blaming and the tears.

Indy wins 38-17.

Dallas at Seattle
The general consensus is that, not only are these two teams average, they might both be bad. Still one of them has to win. The Seahawks week 17 victory over the hapless Bucs actually looms large, considering Dallas -- potentially playing for a division title -- lost to the even more hapless Lions at home. Yet, even with Terrell Owens dropping every pass in sight and Tony Romo slip, slip sliding away on track greased with his own anointing oil, the Cowboys have too much talent on offense to lose this game. If Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck were right it could be a different story -- but they don't seem to be.

Dallas wins 24 -20

Jets at New England
It's the genius vs. the man-genius. Maybe there is enough room on the Eastern Seaboard for two brilliant professional football minds, but not when one them is attached to a body the size of Mangini's. So this one is for all the genius marbles. Clearly Belichick is running scared: He completely ignored his over-sized protege last time the teams played and, in a rare strategical blunder for the Patriots' headman, the motivated Jets ended up beating New England. So this week Belichick is singing Mangini's praise to anyone who will listen. That tactical reversal --and the fact their win against New England was the Jets only victory against a team with a winning record this year -- should spell a Patriots' victory, and allow Belichick to maintain his genius perch for at least another year.

New England wins 27-10.

Giants at Philadelphia
As an Eagle fan, the Giants were the last team -- assuming home field advantage -- I wanted to play in the first round of the playoffs. My fear boils down to a solitary play the Giants run. The one where Eli drops back, puts his head down and lobs the ball in the general direction of Plaxico Burress. This play is effective for two reasons: Eli is clearly a more accurate passer when he unburdens himself of looking at the receiver and aiming, and the swing man-sized Burress is a cheater who pushes off on every play he isn't wide open. This combination is especially deadly against the Eagles' undersized corners, and Burress' two best games this season have come against Philly. My only hope is the refs are catching up with Burress' dubious technique -- he was flagged for offensive passing interference last week against the 'Skins. Anyway, the Giants know if they win this one it probably means another year under the hawk-like stare of numskull dictator Tom Coughlin. So if Jeff Garcia can overcome the SI cover jinx that was just cruelly thrust upon him, this one should be for the Birds.

Philly wins 31-20.

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