Friday, January 11, 2008

NFL 2007 - Divisional Playoffs

Seahawks @ PACKERS -8.5

As I was watching the Seahawks surrender a 13-point lead to the Redskins in the fourth quarter of last week's game, I thought to myself, "You know, maybe I shouldn't have picked a team with a lousy offense to cover the spread in a playoff game." Luckily, the Redskins don't happen to be all that good, and the Seahawks went in to win rather comfortably.

This week, I'm pretty sure it'll catch up with them. Everybody and his dog is looking forward to the "Can Brett Favre Finally Win in Dallas?" storyline next weekend, and the Seahawks certainly won't be the ones to spoil that. The Packers should really just roll.

And, since I can't think of anything else to say about this game, I'll talk about something an announcer said last week that I thought was pretty silly. Some team -- I forget which; why don't we say for the sake of argument that it was the Redskins, even though it probably wasn't -- was about to score a touchdown after having scored a touchdown a few minutes ago. As they were getting ready to run a play, the announcer said something about how the Redskins are about to have scored "14 unanswered points."

Is that really a thing? Isn't that just one team scoring a touchdown, and then the same team scoring one more touchdown before the opposing team happens to tally any intervening points? It's not that big of a deal. "35 unanswered points," sure. "24 unanswered points," I'll give you. "17 unanswered points," maybe. But 14? Wouldn't you have to assume that almost half of the touchdowns scored in the NFL are scored by the team that last scored points?

And declaring those 14 Redskins points (seven of which were hypothetical; remember, the Redskins were merely about to score) to be "unanswered" was a little bit unfair. I mean, the extra point goes through the uprights, and immediately the Seahawks are blamed for not "answering?" The Redskins haven't even kicked off to them yet; when were they supposed to have "answered" that second touchdown? During one of those Coors Light commercials?

And if you're going to go that far, aren't all points, in all sports, basically "unanswered?" For at least a little while? "A nice shot by Kobe Bryant to start the ballgame, and the Lakers have now scored two unanswered points."

Let's calm down a little bit with the "unanswered," is what I'm saying.

Jaguars @ PATRIOTS -13

Much like Lloyd Bridges' character in Airplane! picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue, the Jaguars picked the wrong season to be the dangerous Wild Card team that nobody wants to play. That sort of thing might work in a weird year when the Colts choke away a big playoff game, somebody else is nice enough to knock off the defending champs so you don't have to play them, and the other conference really has nothing to offer in the way of opponents (I'm looking at you, 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers); but it's not going to fly when you have to go up against the best football team in the history of the world (which is how this year's Patriots -- unless they don't win the Super Bowl -- absolutely must be regarded).

It's difficult for me to imagine how excited the Patriots are going to be to get the playoffs started. And this Jaguars team, for all the talk about how dangerous they are, gave up 19 fourth-quarter points to a somewhat shaky Steelers offense last week and very easily could have blown the game. Something tells me the Patriots might not let them off that easy.

Besides, even those who say that they can't stand the Patriots, that they're cheaters, that they're sick of them winning all the time... don't they all actually want to see Colts/Patriots and Cowboys/Packers in the conference title games next Sunday? Wouldn't those be the most highly anticipated conference title games ever? Undefeated Patriots vs. Defending Champion Colts! Brett Favre vs. His One Remaining Hurdle (remember: the year the Packers won the Super Bowl, the upstart Carolina Panthers were nice enough to knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs so Green Bay didn't have to play them)!

Can't Seahawks, Jaguars, Chargers and Giants fans even agree that it couldn't get any better than that?

Chargers @ COLTS -9

As I watched the Chargers trailing 6-0 to Tennessee at halftime of last week's game, I thought to myself, "You know, maybe I shouldn't have picked a team with a lousy offense to cover the spread in a playoff game." Luckily, the Titans don't happen to be all that good, and the Chargers went in to win rather comfortably.

Yes, San Diego did beat the Colts at home back in November when Peyton Manning threw six interceptions, Darren Sproles gave the Chargers two kick returns for touchdowns, Adam Vinatieri missed a clutch field goal and key players Marvin Harrison, Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark and Tony Ugoh were injured and couldn't play for Indianapolis. If all that stuff happens again, the Chargers might have a chance. If not, probably not.

And the Colts, let's not forget, are the defending Super Bowl champions. I know, it's weird! You'd assume it was the Patriots, wouldn't you?

The Colts, though, could really be the Malcolm in the Middle of this year's playoffs. By which I mean you could very well spend almost no time thinking about them, and then, when you finally do stumble across them, you say to yourself, "Man, this Colts team is really good! And why am I surprised that they're this good? I knew all along they were this good, I just sort of forgot! Also, the chick who plays the oldest brother's wife is hot!"

(I guess that last part doesn't apply that much to the Colts. Or, maybe it does. Cooper Manning is probably married to a good-looking woman)

Giants @ JESSICA SIMPSON'S BOYFRIEND'S TEAM -7.5

Really, people. The Cowboys are still the Cowboys. The Giants are still the Giants. Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin are still Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. Don't be worried about Tony Romo not being ready for the game because he spent a few days in Mexico with Jessica Simpson. I think he'll be fine. In fact, I think he'll be particularly relaxed and ready to focus like a laser beam on the task at hand.

I mean, on the list of things that are going to relax a guy, I have to figure a weekend in Mexico with Jessica Simpson would probably be somewhere near the top. That should even be an expression. "A weekend in Mexico with Jessica Simpson" could replace "a day at the beach."

"Hey, Bob. How was the meeting with the new clients? I hear they can be pretty demanding."

"No, not at all. In fact, it was a weekend in Mexico with Jessica Simpson."

or...

"Oh, yeah, honey. I can't wait to go and stay with your vegetarian aunt and her four kids." [roll of the eyes] "It's gonna be a regular weekend in Mexico with Jessica Simpson."

or...

"Man, I hear you had to pull an all-nighter? How was it?"

"Well, it was no weekend in Mexico with Jessica Simpson, I can tell you that."

And so on.

Anyway. It seems like the Giants are the trendy pick this week, which worries me for the Giants' sake. I don't tend to like the trendy pick, because the trendy pick's opponent has access to various television shows and publications that spend all week trumpeting the trendy pick, and whatever tiny chance exists that the favorite might have taken the trendy pick lightly gets thrown out the window when the favorite realizes that quite a few people expect them to lose to the trendy pick.

Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin are going to go into Dallas and stick with the Cowboys in the playoffs? People realize that's what they're picking when the pick the Giants to beat this point spread, right?

Madness.

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