Saturday, January 05, 2008

NFL 2007 - Wild Card Playoffs

It's Wild Card Weekend in the NFL playoffs, otherwise known as "The Weekend Before the Good Teams Play." The goal, I suppose, is an 11-0 playoff record against the point spread, which, to my knowledge, has only been accomplished once in recorded history (by this guy, two years ago).

Can we do it?

Unlikely, almost to the point of being statistically impossible.

Still, it would be something, wouldn't it?

Redskins @ SEAHAWKS -3.5

It seems like lots of folks are backing the Redskins based on the four-game winning streak they put together to end the season and sneak into the playoffs. The idea is that the team is rallying around teammate Sean Taylor's death and the emotion will carry them deep into the postseason. It might work, but I'd be more comfortable betting against the 9-7 team with the career backup at quarterback and the borderline-senile coach when they're going into what has quietly become one of the NFL's toughest places to play.

Sure, last year's Cowboys came into a playoff game in Seattle at 9-7 and would have beaten the Seahawks had Tony Romo not bobbled a snap on a field goal attempt in the 4th quarter. But this year's Redskins are not last year's Cowboys. By definition.

The Seahawks are 7-1 at home this season (the "1" being a weird hiccup against a Saints team that went on to put together a four-game win streak that ended with a 41-24 slaughter of Jacksonville), and I don't see the Redskins coming in and giving them too much of a game. And, even if there weren't any other reasons to pick Seattle, I can make the pick for old time's sake. I was in Las Vegas a couple of years ago and a decent portion of that weekend's gambling strategy depended on the Seahawks covering the spread against Washington, which they did. Good times.

(of course, another part of that weekend's strategy was to ignore the blackjack tables, where, for some reason, I consistently get clobbered. That part of the strategy, I didn't employ. Bad times)

Jaguars @ STEELERS +2.5

For one thing, I won't be watching this game with Beallsville, PA's own Joe Wright, so the Steelers have a fighting chance. For another thing, it's not as though Week 15's Jaguars-Steelers tilt in Pittsburgh was a Jacksonville blowout (though the nationwide stampede to pick Jacksonville might make you believe otherwise).

Yes, the Steelers are going to be forced to play their third-string left tackle. But apparently he's played before, and played just fine. Plus, you've got Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor offering up bulletin board material, which is just something you don't want to do when Pittsburgh is involved. I've noticed that Pittsburghers will come at you with a vengeance if you diss anything having to do with their fair city. Sienna Miller referred to the city as "Shitsburgh" a couple of years ago, and, when's the last time you heard from Sienna Miller? Yeah. She vanished like a fart in the wind. Fictional weatherman Phil Connors, of Groundhog Day fame, had the audacity to suggest that he was too good to waste his talents at a TV station in the Steel City, and he ended up trapped in a hellish nightmare from which death itself could not rescue him. Lord knows what's in store for Fred Taylor.

At the risk of incurring karmic wrath, though, I've got to point out that such a strong reaction to an insult does bely a little bit of insecurity. Methinks Pittsburgh doth protest too much, is what I'm saying. I mean, when someone rags on L.A., we're like, "Whatever, man. I'm headed outside in shorts in January, on my way to the neighborhood supermarket to buy some cheap, delicious avocados. While there, I'll undoubtedly cross paths with at least five women who are twice as hot as anyone you ever went to high school with. Enjoy your freezing rain!"

GIANTS @ Buccaneers -3

I was all set to pick the Buccaneers, then I noticed that the Giants were 7-1 on the road this year, with a seven-game road winning streak. So there that is. Plus, if any team is due for a playoff win, isn't it the Giants? Do you know what their last playoff win was? Anyone? Bueller? It was the infamous 41-donut, on January 14, 2001. That's right: the Giants last won a playoff game when Bill Clinton was president. Oh, I know plenty of teams are working on longer droughts (most teams, in fact), but, the Giants are a marquee franchise and they make the playoffs almost every year. Seems like they ought to pick up a postseason win once every seven years or so, doesn't it?

That's all I can think to say about this game; it's the most uninteresting playoff game in some time, and whoever wins stands virtually no chance of winning next weekend.

Titans @ CHARGERS -10

Speaking of standing virtually no chance of winning... the Tennessee Titans! I know they almost beat the Chargers in Nashville earlier this year. They won't beat them Sunday.

And, with that, I'm off to bed. It's late.

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