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Anthony 01-02-2009 08:13 AM

The All-Purpose NFL Playoffs Thread
All things related to the road to Super Bowl XLIII go here.

I'll start it off with how I see this weekend's wild card games going.

Last week: 9-6-1. Final regular-season record: 118-131-7, Pct. .475. Bets Bets: 22-27-2, Pct. .451.

Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.


30 (+3), Atlanta 24 - Don't read too much into the two-game difference in record favoring the Falcons, as the Cardinals simply coasted the last three weeks, and Atlanta didn't exactly show a whole lot of killer instinct last week, just barely squeezing by 2-14 St. Louis at home with a chance to win the NFC South and secure a first-round bye if the Panthers lost (which Carolina came within a long field goal on the last play of the game of doing). Focus instead on the fact that the home team in this series has won seven of the last eight, and that Atlanta's 24th-ranked defense may be no match for the high-flying, if one-dimensional (last in the entire league in rushing, second in passing) Arizona attack.

SAN DIEGO 21 (P), Indianapolis 17 - Thanks to both of Saturday's games, one item sure to be on the agenda at the spring owners' meeting will be to revisit the issue of whether the division winners should automatically get home field in this round - and here the gap is four games in favor of the wild-card entrant. With their rout of Denver Sunday night the Chargers became the first team ever to make the playoffs after being 4-8 in their first dozen games, while if the Colts can go all the way they would join the 2001 Patriots as the only Super Bowl winner to have been below .500 as many as seven games into the season (3-4). So this is a battle of hot teams peaking at the right time - but if anything, San Diego is even hotter, and I'll go with my original pre-season Super Bowl pick in this one.


13 (+3), Baltimore 10 - Siding with the more experienced quarterback as a home underdog in by far the toughest of this week's games to call.

Philadelphia 17, MINNESOTA 6 (+3) - And after the toughest game to call comes the easiest game to call: Andy Reid is 4-0 both ways lifetime against the Vikings by a combined 125-63, and Jim Johnson's defense is coming off just about a perfect December, with two touchdowns allowed the entire month, one on an 18-yard drive following a fumble and the other in obvious garbage time. DeSean Jackson only needs to get behind the woeful Minnesota secondary once or twice to enable Philadelphia to score enough points to safely win this, and look for that to happen as the Eagles advance to the Elite Eight for what will be the seventh time in ten seasons under the suddenly-goateed (what's up with that?) Reid.


doublee 01-02-2009 11:41 AM

Apparently the Cardinals are having a hard time selling out their game against the Falcons. The NFL gave the team an extension to sell the remaining tickets so the game won't get blacked out. A sign of the economic times? Little faith in the team after they coasted the last month of the year? Or, is it simply because the Falcons are not a high profile team with a broad fanbase?

Marc 01-02-2009 05:33 PM

I like Arizona (only because they are at home), Indianapolis, Miami (same reason as Arizona), and Philadelphia. I can't see the Vikings going anywhere with their QB issues.

doublee 01-05-2009 02:05 PM

Overall, I am pleased with how the Eagles played yesterday. I knew this was going to be a tough one just because the Vikings are so strong defensively. I was glad to see them stick with trying to run the ball even though it was going nowhere fast. I don't understand why Buckhalter did not get the ball more. He has been running really well as of late and has been busting some big plays for them. Given that the Vikes were shutting down the edge and not letting Westbrook get around the corner Buckhalter probably would have been a better option just because he is a little better at running between the tackles than Westbrook is.

They played Adrian Peterson about as well as could be expected. Aside from the 40 yard TD run they kept him bottled up for the most part and made it so that Tarvaris Jackson was going to have to beat them.

There were only two things that really bothered me. One was the interception that McNabb threw I don't know what he was thinking on that one. Curtis was not even remotely close to being open on that play. The second was the 3rd down defense. They let the Vikings convert too many third downs and they seemed to playing rather passively on 3rd down instead of coming after Jackson.

I saw Matt Millen on NBC doing studio work the other night and I just had to wonder how anyone can respect his analysis just knowing what he did to the Detroit Lions.

Steve 01-07-2009 03:06 AM

This weekend I like...

Cards over the Panthers. Lot of people seem to think Carolina has this really formidable defense, but the truth is they play NO defense whatsoever. They have good linebackers and Peppers and that's about it. Plus, Jake Delhomme is the most wildly inconsistent QB in the league whereas Warner is a borderline hall of famer. Zona stopped Turner, so why can't they stop Williams? The only thing that really bothers me is the fact they gave Whisenhunt a Gatorade bath after winning a first round game, but I'll just chalk that up to inexperience and move on.

Eagles over Giants. It's a toss-up but, gun to my head, I'll take and root for the Eagles. I would be surprised by absolutely no outcome in that game, though. Really I'm just pulling for McNabb to McNab (TM) a little more redemption. Seems like an all right guy so who cares if he doesn't understand how overtime works? Giants miss Plaxico.

Steelers over the Chargers and Baltimore over Tennessee. I think fate is conspiring to pit those two teams against each other in the championship game. We seem to always miss out on the dream matchup, but I really hope we get it this year. Ravens in Pitt would be epic.

doublee 01-07-2009 10:27 AM

But, here are some reasons to like Carolina in this week's game. One is Arizona has been absolutely brutal on the road this year. The only road wins they have came against Seattle, St. Louis, and San Francisco while Carolina is unbeaten at home this year. Secondly is the game is going to be played outdoors at night and I think the temperature is going to be low 40s uppers 30s for the game. Warm weather/dome teams historically struggle in cold weather playoff games.

The defense is not great. The front seven is solid and LBs, specifically Davis and Beason, are strong. The main weakness is the secondary. If the Panthers are not able to generate any kind of a pass rush the secondary is particularly susceptible to getting eaten up. The corners are solid but the safeties are weak in terms of pass coverage.

Steve 01-07-2009 10:39 PM

Home field is a big deal, foshur, but why do you think the Panthers are better equipped to handle chilly weather than the Cards?

And low 40's, high 30's isn't all that cold, fella.

doublee 01-07-2009 11:47 PM


Originally Posted by Steve (Post 293105)
Home field is a big deal, foshur, but why do you think the Panthers are better equipped to handle chilly weather than the Cards?

Because the Panthers are a running team and the Cardinals want to throw the ball. Passing teams tend to struggle a bit more when it is colder out.


And low 40's, high 30's isn't all that cold, fella.
It is to someone who plays in Arizona most of the year.

HibachiDG 01-08-2009 12:03 AM

That, and Arizona seems to struggle quite a bit against tough teams on the road to begin with, don't they?

Arizona impressed me with the way in which they ran the ball against the Falcons, and if they step that up this week, then I think they'll do better than most people will think. Edgerrin James has fresh legs compared to most running backs at this stage.

Steve 01-08-2009 12:11 AM

Yeah, Arizona impressed me too in that they at least rushed 20+ times, but I was even more impressed by the fact that they managed to shut down Turner. If the Cards can stop Carolina from running, I'd think they'd have a pretty good shot at stealing the game.

coachJ 01-08-2009 02:52 AM

If Boldin doesnt play, the Cards wont steal anything. I think it will be tough for the Cards to come out with a win even if Boldin does play, but if he doesnt, they dont stand a chance.

Anthony 01-08-2009 05:47 AM

But are the Panthers really any more accustomed to inclement weather than the Cardinals are?

So in that regard the two teams differ only in degree, not in kind - and when that scenario arises, anything can happen: See the Thanksgiving Day game between Miami and Dallas in 1993, which Leon Lett famously booted away.

doublee 01-08-2009 10:16 AM


Originally Posted by Anthony (Post 293126)
But are the Panthers really any more accustomed to inclement weather than the Cardinals are?

They are built to handle it better than the Cardinals are.

If the Cards get into a spot where they have to run the ball they are going to lose. They were dead last in the league running the ball this year. Yes Edge had a nice game but the team did not even muster 100 yards on the ground against the Falcons. Having a good game running the ball against that defense is nothing special. The Falcons were something like 24th against the run this year and gave up 4.9 yards per carry.

Anthony 01-09-2009 06:50 AM

Well here's what I've come up with for the divisional playoffs:

Last week: 3-1. Postseason totals: 3-1, Pct. .750. Best Bets: 1-0, Pct. 1.000.

Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.


16 (+3), TENNESSEE 6 - Deja vu all over again - from 2000, when the road to an eventual Super Bowl championship for the Ravens went through Nashville? And they've got something going for them now that they didn't have then: Tennessee was shut out in its regular-season finale (23-0 by Indianapolis) - and no team that ended the regular season with a shutout loss has ever appeared in a conference championship game! And when the Titans find out they can't run on Baltimore's defense, what will Kerry Collins do - cry or call the police? In contrast to wild-card weekend, when the best bet was saved for last, the safest investment this go-round comes first - and despite the admittedly lousy value.

CAROLINA 24, Arizona 13 (+9 1/2) - Truth be told, the value on Carolina isn't a whole lot more appetizing than the value on Baltimore - but the Cardinals took an oh-for-five collar in their out-of-division road games during the regular season, and got whomped 202-102 in the quintet. True, their lone cover (by half a point) came at Bank of America Stadium, on O.K. Corral Day (a state holiday in Arizona!), but Anquan Boldin had nine catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns that day - which may be nine catches, 63 yards and two touchdowns more than he will get Saturday, as a severely strained hamstring has rendered him one of those dreaded game-time decisions. Additionally, the Panthers have beaten the Cards five straight times, covering in three, and should get enough rushing yardage out of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart - who are eerily reminiscent of Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack of mid-'80s Cleveland fame - to eke out the cover in a tough call.


17 (+5), N.Y. GIANTS 14 - Much is being made about how the road team won both regular-season meetings, but far more relevant is the fact that the Giants beat the Eagles when they did have Plaxico Burress in the lineup, and lost to them when they didn't; and of course Burress won't be available in this one, allowing Philly defensive coordinator Jim Johnson (whose advanced age - 68 - seems to be the only thing keeping him out of the head-coaching rumor mill) to focus more on containing Brandon Jacobs. And the road domination of this rivalry is of less recent vintage than this year - 6-1 against the line since 2006 - and the Eagles have covered twelve of their last 15 on artificial turf. Siding with the underdog for the outright win.

San Diego 20 (+6 1/2), PITTSBURGH 13 - Oddly enough, the Chargers are 0-13 lifetime at Pittsburgh in the regular season, but 2-0 there in the playoffs! And perhaps just as oddly, cold weather doesn't seem to bother them, as they're 5-2 both ways the last seven times they've been exposed to it. LaDainian Tomlinson may be doubtful due to a groin that's either strained or torn depending on who you talk to, but this is not your father's Steeler offense, as any semblance of a power running game is notably absent. No 8-8 team has ever graced the Final Four - but then again no 8-8 team with a chance to get there has ever had the kind of talent San Diego has - and Philip Rivers is on absolute fire right now. Spot for yet another upset.


doublee 01-09-2009 04:53 PM

Horrible news for the Titans: All Pro center Kevin Mawae has been ruled out for tomorrow's matchup with Baltimore. This means second year man Leroy Harris will be making his first playoff start against one of the league's best defenses.

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