NFL Playoffs

Last week: 3-1. I thought the Big Tuna would lead the Cowboys over Carolina.

New England over Tennesee

I don’t see the Titans knocking off a quietly dominant Patriots team even with a healthy Eddie George and Steve McNair. The Patriots don’t seem as talented as a lot of the other teams still standing, but they’re so machine-like and competent it is frightening.

Green Bay over Philadelphia

I went back and forth on this one. It’s dangerous to go against the Sports Guy, and contrary to popular opinion, I don’t hate Donovan McNabb. However, he’s less accurate than Matt Hasselbeck, so he’s not going to pick apart the Green Bay secondary any better than Hasselbeck did, and the Eagles are also weaker against the run than the Seahawks, so they’re not going to stop Ahman Green either.

St. Louis over Carolina

Carolina is the pet upset pick of the experts, but I disagree. Mike Martz is a smart guy, and this year he’s gotten a lot better at not outsmarting himself. When he has to pound, he pounds now, which was never the case in the past. I’ve liked Bulger since seeing him play in his first game against Oakland; I think his higher INT percentage stems from not having Faulk most of the season. If Martz can’t run Marshall against the Carolina line, he’ll have Bulger throw to him out of the backfield, where Faulk is arguably more dangerous.

Kansas City over Indianapolis

Peyton Manning was my fantasy QB this year. When he’s on, which is most of the time, he’s great. But he’s also prone to the occasional inexplicable debacle, and after last week’s destruction of Denver, I suspect payback is due. I think Tony Dungy is a good man and a solid coach, but a mediocre game-day tactician. Vermeil will outcoach Dungy for the win – I’ve seen enough Denny Green teams get outcoached in the playoffs to know how this usually plays out. And who was Denny’s defensive coordinator for more than a few of those? Right. As Bill Parcells showed, a great coach doesn’t need a complete team to win, he just needs something. Parcells didn’t have anything to work with this year; with Holmes, Green, Hall and Gonzalez, Dick Vermeil does.

In fact, the Sports Guy seems to have neglected his own Rule #6: check the coaching matchups. In explaining that rule, he even said: “Tony Dungy: You never hear an announcer say, “This game’s a chess match!” when Dungy’s involved.”


UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong about the Rams, although that one could have just as easily gone the other way, the experts notwithstanding. I figured the Rams were in trouble when they couldn’t punch it in with three separate chances in the red zone. Also, Mike Martz clearly doesn’t have much trust in Bulger, letting the clock run down at the end of the game instead of throwing it into the end zone – rightly so, judging by that last interception on the Carolina 30. And what was up with Carolina failing to call timeout on the kick that should have won the game the first time. Tori Holt’s drop was big too. Strange game, but great to watch. I hope Stephen Davis is good to go for next week. Also, it was nice to see the Panthers win despite getting double-teamed by the Rams and the referees.

Halfway through the 1st quarter of the other game. Titans don’t look good. Brady does. I’ll be shocked if I get this one wrong too.