Monday, January 09, 2006

NFC Divisional Playoffs

Let’s start off by looking at the NFC Divisional Matchups, and how I think they’ll play out. Let’s start with the 1 vs. 6 game.

Seahawks/Redskins: The classic battle between probably the most talented team, and the team with arguably the most momentum (having won six straight.) The Redskins come off a 17-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which the Skins offense generated 120 yards, least ever for a team that won their first-round playoff game. To make matters worse, the defense scored one TD and set up the other TD with an INT. It was an anemic offensive performance saved by the defense. The Seattle Seahawks come off a bye, and they haven’t played a meaningful game in weeks. Seattle is undefeated at home.

For a couple of reasons, I like the Seahawks in this game. While I expect the Redskins offense to be a little better (they can’t be any worse!), the Seahawks offense is far superior to the Bucs offense. The Bucs have a better big-play receiver in Joey Galloway, but the Seahawks are superior in every other way. They have the better, more experienced QB. Shaun Alexander is the MVP of the NFL. They have a great offensive line. Their receivers aren’t great, but they’re good enough. I expect the Redskins OFFENSE to score more than they did last week, but not the defense.

Seahawks 24-13.

Bears/Panthers: A very intriguing matchup, especially if you like defense. The Panthers come off of a shellacking of the Giants, the Bears off a bye week. These two teams played earlier in the year with Chicago winning 13-3. Both teams have great defenses and are extremely well-coached.

But this Panthers team looks different. Delhomme is playing well, Foster and Goings are providing a nice 1-2 punch, and Steve Smith is playing like he’s the best receiver in the NFL. At this point, they don’t even NEED any other WR to contribute, which is good, because they aren’t. The defense was fabulous as well shutting down the Giants.

But, it is hard to pick against the Bears in January in Chicago. The defense is spectacular. They have a great defensive line that creates pressure, fast, sure-tackling linebackers, and a big-play secondary. Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman are both very good. But I just don’t like the offense to score enough on Carolina. Rex Grossman is a huge upgrade over Kyle Orton at this point, but I still wouldn’t trust Grossman if the Bears needed a late drive to win. Thomas Jones is also good, but Tiki Barber is better and the Panthers allowed him only 41 yards (albeit on 13 carries.) As hard as it is to pick against Chicago in Chicago, I’ll do it here:

Panthers 16-13.