18 December 2007

The Humiliation Returns . . .

Tomorrow, I'll put together some NFL picks, the past few weeks have been pretty awful as far as games worth watching, last week only two games pitted two teams with winning records. If you had looked at the Week 15 match-ups before week one, you probably would have guessed that both teams in the Jacksonville at Pittsburgh game would have winning records, but if you say that you would have also guessed the only other both teams over .500 game would be Buffalo at Cleveland, then I call you a stinking liar.

So I'll be daring and pick all the games, from Thursday to Monday, no matter how unwatchable any particular game may be (woohoo! 14-0 New England v 1-13 Miami, that's a classic in the making, right there), then I'll give my picks throughout the playoffs, of course.

Looks like my earlier playoff predictions are already way off. I was pretty close on the AFC, though I didn't predict continued success for Cleveland and a Pittsburgh mini-collapse. Cleveland and Pittsburgh both have winnable games the last two weeks, so they should both finish 11-5, which would mean Pittsburgh wins the division, and Cleveland earns one of the wildcard slots, along with Jacksonville, leaving Tennessee out of the playoffs. New England and Indianapolis have already locked up the first round byes.

On the NFC side, Green Bay and Dallas both will earn the byes, with Dallas probably still holding on to the overall home field advantage. Tampa Bay did rise to the top of the NFC South (no real surprise), Seattle has looked very solid again, and Arizona let a golden opportunity to make the playoffs slip away with a few late losses. Detroit were 6-2 at one point and look poised to finish 6-10, while the NY Giants may still hold on to the last wildcard, but they'll get thumped in the first round of the playoffs, so it won't matter. As far as who the other playoff team, who knew Minnesota would rise to the top of that mess? They were 3-6 when I wrote that post, and their season was done, now they are 8-6 with their own destiny in their hands. New Orleans still may knock the Giants out, and Minnesota looked shaky on Monday, even though they beat the Bears, so they could still finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs. They've been getting some Pittsburgh of '05 comparisons as the hot team that sneaks into the playoffs by winning a bunch of games late in the season, then doing damage as a 6 seed, but Tavaris Jackson is no Ben Roethlisberger. Adrian Peterson is a hell of a running back, but Seattle or Tampa Bay both have the kind of defense that can keep him bottled up, so I don't expect them to go on an unexpected playoff run.

It still looks like it's probably going to come down to a New England-Dallas rematch (with the same result as the regular season contest), assuming Romo's thumb isn't too seriously damaged, if his thumb is messed up, then look for a New England-Green Bay contest with Favre winning the Superbowl MVP even as New England wins the game.

Maybe if San Diego puts everything together for one magical game, they have the talent to thwart New England, but expecting a Norv Turner team to out-prepare and out-hustle, and out-execute a Bill Belichick team in a playoff game, strains credulity.

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