Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A long, long time ago, I correctly predicted the outcome of every single game in the NFL playoffs, except one. The only game I picked incorrectly was one where the Giants blew a 9-point lead with 90 seconds to go. Ever since then, I've lost the magic touch, and compounding my problems this year is the fact that I have to pick against the Patriots. At any rate, these are my picks:

There is nothing more boring than a first-round game between two NFC teams I never watch and don't feel comfortable having in the playoffs. Therefore, I won't watch the Redskins and Seahawks, but I feel comfortable saying that Todd Collins, the man who replaced Jim Kelly in that magical season ten years ago, will not win a playoff game.

The game I will watch will be the Jaguars at the Steelers on Saturday night. There was a preview of this game two weeks ago, and the Jaguars won. Other than the fact that the Steelers won their division and are therefore playing at home, there is nothing to suggest that the Steelers should win this. I like watching the Steelers and used to consider them a Super Bowl candidate, but they've lost three of their last four and allowed an average of 28 points in that stretch. The Steelers are the better team on paper but they've struggled offensively of late and the Jaguars ran them over with their Taylor-Jones-Drew ticket.

The Giants may have played the Patriots tough, but good men often display uncanny resolve in the face of unspeakable evil. Eli Manning threw four touchdowns Saturday night but I have seen him throw 35 incompletions in a game, a modern-era league record, and then follow it up with a seven-completion, two-interception game the week after. The Buccaneers have the second-best defense in the league and a creaky but passable offense led by former CFL great Jeff Garcia who is having a very good year (13 touchdowns against 4 picks). I've never understood how the Giants managed to win ten games, and I don't see how they'll win this.

The last game of the weekend is between the Chargers and Titans. This is the easiest game of the week to call: the Titans are a team that doesn't have any business being in the playoffs, the Chargers have won only one more game but I think are a threat to get to the Super Bowl. Keep in mind that San Diego has virtually the same team that won 14 games last year and was Schottenheimered out of beating the Patriots in the playoffs last year. The Chargers have won 10 of 12 after a 1-3 start and have allowed 17 points or less in 9 of those games. If the Ukrainian-born Igor Olshansky, second baseman Luis Castillo and drug user Shawne Merriman don't inspire fear in the heart of opponents, then LaDainian Tomlinson (18 touchdowns) surely will. The Chargers will win and win big, with probably the biggest margin of the weekend.

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