Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Playoff Preview, Pt. 2

After the Wild Card teams beat up on each other, they get the chance to face the well rested top two seeded teams in each conference. No other major American sport (team or individual) has such a big advantage. Imagine the Celtics getting to skip the first round of the NBA playoffs or Roger Federer getting to go straight to round 2 of Wimbledon . I bet the Yankees would have a couple more 'ships in the 2000s if they could have just skipped the ALDS.

In the first AFC matchup of the Divisional Round, I have the top seeded Titans hosting their fellow AFC South member Colts. They split the season series* (not really though since Tennessee wasn't really playing week 17), and while the Titans have the better record and are playing at home, the Colts are one of the three hottest teams in the league (BAL, MIA). I could see Manning leading the horseshoe-helmets to a win, but that image is a bit fuzzy. What's more clear is Albert Haynesworth dominating the line and pressuring Peyton into an ill-advised toss that ends up in Cortland Finnegan's hands. Titans win this one, making Peyton the first Manning to go home this season.

The other AFC game will involve my Miami Dolphins travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. The Clocktower will look to come back strong from a 'mild 'concussion suffered in a worthless game against the Cleveland Clowns in week 17. I think he'll play well and look just as crisp as he has been most of the season. After all, he did go to Miami University and we know how tough Redhawks are. To maintain the integrity of my picks, I have to tell my heart and gut to shut up and pick the Steelers in another defensive, low-scoring game. If I had a vote, CP gets mine for Comeback Player of the year and he's probably 3rd or 4th on my MVP ballot.

In the NFC, as I see it, Atlanta takes on Carolina in Charlotte in another inter-divisional game. These two split the season series as well, with the home team winning each time. I'll look for that trend to continue and pick the Bayou Boy and the Panthers to take it to the Falcons. Nothing to be ashamed of here with the Falcons having arguably as big a turnaround this season as the Fins did.

Lastly, in the third matchup of teams that know each other well I have the Iggles and Jints. This one will be played in Jersey and the defending champs will be rested after locking up the top spot a couple of weeks ago and the benefit of the bye. The road team came out on top both times they played this season, but this is the playoffs. I like the G-Men at home as they continue on the road to defend their championship and PROTECT THIS HOUSE!

Check back in 2009 for the Conference Championship and Super Bowl Preview. Happy New Year!


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