NFL PLAYOFFS

Superbowl XL is finally nigh. And not a moment too soon for yours truly. I've started watching SportsCenter while on the treadmill in the morning, and if I see one more story about Jerome Bettis I'm going to fly to Bristol and personally smack Stuart Scott's lazy eye straight. Boo yah.

Ahh, the Super Bowl for large sizes. I'm surprised we haven't heard more negative stories about the Detroit airport, but then again if you're not trying to make a connecting flight out of there it might actually be a nice place. Might.

Incidentally, in the spirit of horn-tooting, Al and I both picked this matchup. Yay, us.

Who's playing again? Haha, just kidding.

I must admit that I'm more excited about wadE and Chelle's party than the game itself. However, that's not a surprise; I don't have any particular feelings toward either the Seahawks or the Steelers, since they're both AFC teams. (I know, but they ought to be.) All I'm hoping for is a close game, which I'm betting is likely since neither of these teams seem, well, very good. Also, I can't find myself disliking anyone on either team to cause me to pull for the other; I'm fed up with seeing features on The Bus, but that's not his fault.

The most interesting links I found on ESPN all week were actually about how baseball has more parity than football. Click here and here if you're interested in that sort of thing at all. Oh, and Ben Roethlisberger urges you to Drink Like a Champion Today.

I don't think the game will be a blow-out by any means, but I can't see any way that the Seahawks come out on top- despite their superior record. I mean, mostly because it's one of the signs of the apocolypse if any team from Seattle wins a major sports championship. Without much analysis, you just get a feeling that Pittsburgh is tougher, gritter, and wants this game more than Seattle, who seem like they're just happy to be there.

I'm not even going to pretend to analyze any matchups, because I'd be making it all up. Your Superbowl XL Champs: Steelers.

Yeah, I'm certainly not going to pretend to have any insight that matters. I'm just going to reiterate: Matt Hasselbeck wants the ball, and he's gonna score! Seahawks are my pick.


Wow. Well, I guess it's good no one is betting any money on our predictions. I'm 3-5 through two weeks and equally happy we're taking this one week at a time, because I would've picked the Pats again. I'm still a little shocked that they lost to Jake "Porn Moustache" Plummer and a dude named Ashley Lelie. I'm also surprised that the Colts blew it, but surprised in a happy way. Why do I dislike Peyton Manning so much? Is it the drawl? The oddly-shaped head? Or the fact that he took his soon-to-be-former kicker to task a few years back when Vanderjagt said that Manning didn't have the skills to lead the Colts to the Super Bowl. Maybe he wasn't so wrong. Of course, the idiot kicker didn't help matters when he blew a gimme at the end of last week's game. Um. I digress. Where are my pants?

I don't think our record is too horrible. If you've bet evenly across all my games, you're even (my 4-4 record, obviously), and even if you're a Wade man, you're only down a little, with plenty of time to recover. In other words, everyone's still got their pants, which is important in Minnesota in January. And for the record, I'd probably have picked a Colts-Giants Super Bowl, so we're all better off week by week.

Oh, and my favorite parts from last weekend's games were the four different faces saying "He missed it" about the Liquored Up Idiot Kicker. Well, that and wadE running completely out of his house in celebration of a Steelers victory. Chelle would've done the same, but she was too busy drooling over Bill Cowher.

Well anyway, here's two idiots' takes on the Conference Championship games. I'll actually be in Vegas for these, but I'm not sure I'll be putting any money where my mouth is, so if you've been gambling along with us, maybe don't.

Carolina at Seattle Woo. You know the Guccis at FOX are pumped about this matchup. Gosh I hope Seattle doesn't win this one, because that'll lead to the first-ever Super Bowl between two AFC teams. Just because the Seahawks changed to that awful Nauseated Teal doesn't mean they belong with the Bears, Cowboys, et al. To me they'll always look like this:

I'd love to say Seattle won't win this one. Shaun Alexander got knocked out of last week's game with a concussion, so who knows if he'll be back to good? And Matt Hasselbeck? Karma still owes this guy a sound ass-kicking, after the whole "we take the ball and we're going to score" disaster. Even with one of their defensive backs preoccupied with a stabbing or a domestic violence charge or some un-noteworthy distraction from the game, this one goes to the Seahawks. Why? DeShaun Foster is out with a broken leg. The Panthers have a decent quarterback and talented wideouts, but without the threat of a running game, they're history. Seahawks.

You know I agree whole-heartedly about the jerseys. And about DeShaun Foster being the key to the game, so to speak. What I don't agree with is your assessment of Hasselbeck. The league needs more interesting QBs. I love that Hasselbeck had the balls to say that into the ref's mic, I even referenced it in my pick of Seattle last week, and I should point out that my karma won out over yours in the only game we've disagreed on so far. I'm not saying, I'm just saying. I like the Seahawks here too.

Pittsburgh at Denver Well, if you follow my Broncos logic below, this should be an easy one. There's no possible way that I'd ever want Denver to win a game ever again, even if I thought they could. Thankfully, I don't think they *can* win this one. Denver's offense looked rather pedestrian against a New England team that apparently had other things on their mind beyond winning football games. Champ Bailey's interception and the subsequent touchdown (and don't tell me he wasn't dogging it at the end) were a 14-point turnaround that decided this game. Besides, Ottis is the only running back named Anderson allowed to win the Superbowl. Regrets to Mike, Jamal, Richie, Neal, and Alfred. Pittsburgh didn't look very impressive in Indy, but they scored more points than I thought possible with what smacks of an anemic offense. Big Ben will be on his game, and Cowher will alternate between Parker and Bettis to keep the Broncos defense on their heels. And, as much as I really don't dig the AFC, it's cool to see two "classic" teams playing for the division title-- none of this Jaguars at Ravens nonsense. Steelers.

I've been consistently under-rating Denver all year. I don't understand how they're winning games, and I have no faith that it will continue. I don't know about their team, and I don't care about their team, and there's really just no way I can see how to pick them to win. On the other hand, I've watched several Steelers games this year (this is all through random chance, I assure you), and I can see how they'd be good enough to win. So I have to pick the Steelers. Simple.


Well, after one week, both Al and I are two-for-four in our predictions. If we were NFL football coaches, that winning percentage would get us fired. If we were golfers, we might keep our PGA tour card. If we were playing baseball, though, we'd surely get elected to the hall of fame on the first ballot. So because of that success, we continue our progress of prognostication with week two of the NFL playoffs!

And I for one am glad that we've gone to this week-by-week format - it saves me the embarassment of having foretold a Bengals Super Bowl run.

Washington at Seattle The 'skins did little to impress me offensively last week, at least in the five minutes of the game that I actually watched. They'll also be without Sean Taylor on defense, who apparently can be penalized solely because he can't control all of his expectorant. How does Paul Tagliabue sleep at night, penalizing a man because of his handicap? Clinton Portis also looked less-than-impressive, garnering only 53 yards. All of that said... we're talking about the Seattle Seahawks here. The ghosts of Kreig, Zorn, Fenner, and Largent loom large, along with a history of futility. The last time the Seahawks won a divisional playoff game? 1983. That record will stand as the current squad flounders (get it?) home field advantage to a much weaker Redskins team.

Man, I love Jim Zorn. Loves me some Jim Zorn? Whatever. Too bad they can't go back to the old-school Seabags uniforms for the playoffs - those things were the best. Oh, and Sean Taylor hasn't been suspended, just for the record. He's just been heavily fined. I'm sure that'll stop him from doing it again. I agree with all the things that Wade said about this game, and my instinct tells me the Skins are the wise bet. But dammit, Matt Hasselbeck wants the ball, and he's gonna score! Seahawks finally win.

Oh, P.S. Lofa Tatupu.

New England at Denver Even if I wanted to pick Denver to win this (which I don't) I can't. Nope. Flash back to January 25th, 1998. I watched the Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers from wadE's apartment in St. Louis Park. Someone named Corey was there. He got drunk and touched me a little too much. He was a Broncos fan. I don't want to talk about it, other than saying I never want the Broncos to win again. Patriots.

Every time I see John Elway I think, "Poor Wade". Really though, how did the Broncos even get this far. Jake Plummer? (Although let's be honest, I do admire the porn stache he's grown. He may be channeling the ghost of Jeff Hostetler, and that would change things.) But I just can't see how Denver's going to win this one. Pats take it.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis I just can't see how Pittsburgh can win this one. They can't hope for a catastrophic injury to the opposing starting QB two weeks in a row, can they? Interesting tangent: earlier this week Dan Barriero asked on KFAN whether Steelers fans were happy to see Carson Palmer go down with a terrible injury and, if so, is that morally right? I say it's okay. It's different, for example, than the person who screams for the defense to break the quarterback's leg-- that involves forethought. The Palmer injury seemed accidental; therefore, it's just part of the game and something that a fan can be happy about working to his/her advantage. Additionally, one can argue that part of the reason certain positions (especially QB) receive such a large salary is because of the inherent risk involved in both his position and in the game of football itself. Shed a tear for Carson, but-- theoretically-- he's been compensated (highly) because of that risk. Man, I miss college. Colts.

I would say that more of a guilty pleasure would be acceptible. Although wouldn't you have to admit then that you don't really know how good your team is, if they struggled for a while against Jon Freakin' Kitna? I'm just sayin'. For the record, if Manning goes down, your Colts QB would be Jim Sorgi. Not impressive, but the man does know about State Street, so they'd be ok. Well, they probably wouldn't, but that's all just hypothetical. I think the Steelers will be overmatched in this one. Colts.

Carolina at Chicago Go Bears. No, really. Go. Go home after losing this one. After the Panthers shredded through the NY Football Giants last week, they'll continue on and beat Chicago at Soldier Field this weekend. DeShaun "Bananas" Foster racked up 151 yards against the Giants; he may have more trouble against Urlacher, but he'll still be able to make enough of a dent to open the field up for Jake Delhomme, who will hook up for at least two touchdowns with Jimmy Smits... er, Smith. Chicago's defense is fine and all, but you can't ignore that thing they're trying to use as their quarterback. Grossman will suck the air out of the offense, the stadium, and the Bears' hunt for a championship. Panthers.

If not Grossman, Kyle Orton. If not Orton, Jeff Blake. If not Blake, Eric Hipple. And so on. This is another game I don't want to watch. And I'm not picking against the Panthers again. Fool me once, shame on Rik Smits- err, Jimmy Smith. Fool me twice, well. . . don't fool me. Panthers.


Playoff time is here again. What does this mean? For NFL teams, the stakes are higher: when it all comes down to one game, there's no room for mistakes. Players play with injuries more. Opponents' game film is more highly scrutinized. Coaches devise new schemes, and perfect old ones. For NFL teams, this is what you play the game for.

For me, it's a traditional cheap way to get fresh content on the site without having to be too creative. Once again, as in 2005 and 2004, Al's coming along for the ride.

Hello! Seeing as how it's Saturday morning, and the games are gonna start in a few hours, I think it's safe to say that this is the first time I've ever worked on a deadline. I'm not sure I like it. But since Wade and I both have pets that wake us up at the butt-crack of dawn, it's safe to say we weren't really doing anything else of import. So let the picks begin!

I'll start with the standard disclaimer that, really, I don't follow football much anymore. Vikings games have gone from being the focus of my weekend to something that's usually on in the background while I'm doing something else on Sunday. I'm not saying I've grown up or anything-- I still spend considerably too much time watching baseball. I just wanted to get out in front of the fact that, for the purposes of this article anyway, I'm basically a clueless blowhard. Hey-- I think that qualifies me to be on "Crossfire"!

To explore that clueless angle a little more, let's look at my Superbowl prediction from last year: Steelers 27, Vikings 17. In reality, the Patriots ended up beating the Eagles. Not so good.

Yes, if you're unfamilliar with Wade and I, insofar as predicting goes we're known best for spectacular failure. I think Wade did once correctly predict a champ on his own, but other than that it's been failure, failure, failure, and more failure. Hmm, I think I may have duplicated some of Wade's links there, but I think it helped make my point. Which is: I wouldn't use us for gambling purposes. In fact, I lost both of the sports bets I placed last time in Vegas, for what that's worth. In any case, like the angry, yelling, bald men on ESPN say: Try to do better next time, so here we go:

Let's see if we can turn the tide this year. Because my past failures have proven that I don't actually do this very well when relying on my own intuition, I'm tempted to try some sort of gimmick. Like the Sports Guy's Manifesto. Or use a Chelle-like method of selecting the team whose quarterback has the nicest ass. But it's not even 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and that just sounds like too much work. But to quote Homer Simpson: "All right, brain, you don't like me and I don't like you. But let's just get through this and then I can get back to killing you with beer."

Round One

Washington at Tampa Bay. Wow. Do I have to pick one? Mark Brunell is my dad's age, and Chris Simms' dad is, well, Phil Simms. Assuming Brunell gets his oatmeal and watches Matlock this morning, he should be in decent shape to hand the ball off to Clinton Portis and gingerly toss it to Santana Moss. They also seem to be peaking now, winning their last five games coming into today. The Bucs have offensive ROY Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. Cadillac? I see the alliteration, of course, but why Cadillac? With that nickname, I'd expect him to be an old, gray-haired, shuffling white guy with false teeth. Like Mark Brunell. Seriously, though: why not Corvette? Charger? Countach? Between that and a fear that any success Chris Simms has will be parlayed into a future career as an announcer-- thereby bringing about two generations of godawful broadcasting-- the Redskins take this one.

Yeah you're gonna hear a lot this weekend about how it's 'young quarterback' vs. 'experienced quarterback', and I think it applies particularly to this game. Washington has a pretty solid team overall, and Tampa, while a good team, isn't outstanding enough to make up for any errors that Simms might make out of nervousness. I gotta think that the Redskins will take this one as well.


"You kids turn that music down!"

Jacksonville at New England. How in the hell did Jacksonville win twelve games this season? Oh, right-- they play in the same division as Tennesssee and Houston. Something named David Garrard led them to a 5-1 record to close the season out, and Jimmy Smits... er, Smith hauled in his typical 1000+ yards with a measley 6 TDs. (Fantasy grudge from years back, you'll have to excuse me.) But if you look closely at the teams they beat-- even beyond the Titexans, it's not that impressive. San Fran... Arizona... St. Louis. However, even if Jacksonville came into this game a perfect 16-0, I'd still take New England. If I've learned one thing from Wesley Snipes and the past five years of NFL Playoffs, it's this: always bet on Belichek. Patriots.

Jimmy Smits is in this game? How can they lose?! Ahem. But seriously, as I understand it Byron Leftwich will be under center for the Jags, vs. Tom Brady for the Pats. Leftwich is a really good quarterback, but he's gonna have to be rusty, and I don't like the chances of a rusty QB (not even Rusty Hilger) winning a playoff game on the road in New England. Let's say Pats in this one.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Outside of Antwaan Randle El, I like nothing about this Pittsburgh team. The only games they won that they probably shouldn't have were against Chicago, Cincy, and San Diego. The big games against Indy and New England? Losses. Ben Roethlisberger is Bubby Brister with a better jawline, and Willie Parker sounds like something Jason would name his wang. The Bengals, conversely, have held a special place in my heart since January 24th, 1982, the first football game I can remember watching. Cincinnati lost to the 49ers in Superbowl XVI, in a game that spawned my budding affection towards underdogs like the Bengals. That, or I just really like black and orange uniforms. Anyway, Carson Palmer makes anyone forget about Ken Anderson, and Chaz Johnson-- despite working a little too hard to garner headlines-- is exciting to watch. Their defense isn't great but, given the game is in Cincy, the Bengals prevail.

I personally think this will be the most exciting game of the weekend. And I really don't know who to pick. I may resort to flipping a coin, but let's talk it out first and see where that leads. Cincy's defense is awful. I've actually managed to see a couple of their more recent games, and they haven't been able to stop anyone on the ground. And Pittsburgh sure does have a good ground game. But I like Cincy's offense a lot better than I do Pittsburgh's. Cincinnati is at home, which means the crowd will go nuts if they get an early lead. So I still haven't decided anything. I'm gonna go with who I would prefer to win the game, and that's the Bengals. So there.


I want to see Chaz revive this dance.

Carolina at New York Giants. Ugh. Would anyone (beyond Panther and Giant fans) actually want to watch this game? I suppose Panthers WR Steve Smith is exciting; he kicked the Vikings around a great deal last October, anyway. By the way, Steve Smith should not be confused with Steve Smith, Steve Smith, or even Steve Smith. Just wanted to get that straight. Jake Delhomme is (somehow) looking like a decent NFL quarterback again, and the team also has Superbowl magnet and Tecmo Superbowl standout Ricky Proehl on the team. They go into New York to take on a team quarterbacked by a kid who doesn't even shave yet. As shaky as Eli Manning has looked, though, he's got some decent pieces on offense surrounding him, a decent defense, and a team that has a 7-1 home record. Easy win for the Giants.

Ooh, Steve Smith references. I like it. I can't say I'm impressed with either of these teams, so I'll keep it short and sweet. Eli Manning is going to be handing off to Tiki Barber. Tiki Barber is likely the best player on this field. That should be enough to win. Giants.

Hmm... complete agreeance for the two of us. Ahh well, at least we'll go down in flames together.

To be fun and different this year, we're actually going to pick only one round at a time. That gives us an opportunity to revise history and look less foolish than we have in years past. So check back weekly and we'll make it seem like we knew what was going on the whole time.

-WA


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